Friday, July 09, 2010


I am in Washington because Ben's mom is dying. One May, a doctor said she had 6 months to live. It is 37 months later; she is not one to take no for an answer. Her house is full to the brim with children, grandchildren, parents, siblings. The kitchen is a circus of aluminum trays of macaroni and cheese, grilled chicken, and saran wrapped plates of brownies. Our days have no schedule. We have blurry expectations and are stumbling into a space where none of us has ever stood before. So we sit close to each other on chairs by her bed. We heat soup and find straws in the pantry, scribble grocery lists on paper towels, run to the store. We read the Bible, half to her and half to ourselves, and try to absorb words about God and safety and power. We take the kids swimming. We go for walks through the humid heat after dark. We make cocktails. We listen to the cousins squeal and bicker and make rules for their games. The deep sadness is quiet for now. It spills behind closed doors and late at night, or seeps into dreams.

Ben, the kids and I are staying up the street at my parents' house. Tonight, the kids were in bed, Ben wasn't home yet and I noticed my mom had bought a loaf of Roman Meal bread. I'm pretty sure she doesn't buy it when I'm not here but knows that one of my simple pleasures is a sandwich on Roman Meal -- what I ate as a kid. So standing in this quiet night, drinking mint tea, I am eating slices of soft Roman Meal with peanut butter like I used to. It isn't comfort, but it is comfortable, which is a little something.


Debbi said...

Thanks for the window into hard uncharted place that you and Ben are in. I've never seen the thread before between dying and raising children, but I guess there is the same desire for certainty and answers where there are few certainties and answers.

I was enjoying reading the rest of your blog - soaking in your musings on parenting and jotting down yummy recipes - when I realized my own house was too quiet. I stepped away from my computer to find Emma and my kichen covered in black sharpie! least I have a good sandwich recipe for lunch :)

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, Bronwen. I'm so sorry to hear about Ben's mom's current state... but overjoyed to hear that she has endured so long and outlasted the doctor's expectations. I hope that in so doing, she enjoyed each day of those 37 months far more than most people would know how.

What a joy and blessing for her to be surrounded by such loving family, and a bit distracted from the end. Praying for you guys and wishing you many blessings in this hard time. May God amaze you with unexpected joys and deep, resounding truths.