Today is day 8.
Eight days of silence from our mama, the lively pillar of our family and center of our universe.
Eight days of a machine breathing life into her, eight days of bedside vigils watching this sleeping beauty, eight days of a million ways all of life hangs in a precarious balance.
It's not easy, this. Not easy or natural. The first time I saw her fragile and vulnerable I was at a loss. Ugly tears, hysterical heaving - a cerebral coaching that everything will be alright at vicious odds with a heart that is searing with pain.
There was another moment of unrestrained tears, this time when called to gather again at her side as the her heart crashed and we surrendered. We surrendered her into the arms of Jesus, not a figurative placing but a literal prelude to the moment when she would pass from unconscious in our presence to alive and restored forever in His.
I lost it then too but never again since. There's a necessary preservation that must occur if I'm to survive this.
But at first what stuns and cripples all too quickly and maddeningly becomes a new normal. While I still picture my boisterous and cheery mother in all her splendid colors in my mind, this quiet, methodical rising of this still woman's chest has become expected.
There have been hospital visits full of hand holding and singing and intercession for the supernatural interrupted with the text of a distressed daughter needing me in the waiting room or the hunger pangs that remind me we haven't eaten all day. I want to be here, I'm needed there, and I'm disappointed that I am after all only human.
There are the round table joys of being finally and fully united as an extended family - four sisters and one brother and the broods a few of us claim as our own - and the sophisticated navigation of relationships when big personalities and strong opinions meet over emotional issues and life and death decisions.
Worry about mom's feeding tube doesn't negate the necessity of keeping the rest of us fed three times of day and the shopping that must happen in between. The urgent is always pressing but so is the mundane necessary. The pain, the sorrow, the worry, the fear are constant companions but so too all the beautiful moments together and blessed memories in the making, no matter what may come.
The warning bells of an open car door picking up the last hospital visitor for the night echo the life tracking beeps of machines standing sentinel through the darkness when we can not be near her. The noises of the city, the conversations together after dinner, we can hear them all and process them deeply and unique to our perspective. Mom waits alone in silence while we wonder what she hears, what she contemplates, what visions might visit her in her sleep.
It's been eight days, mama. And life continues to pass, continues to press, and we wish you were here with us for every single second of it.