Monday, March 16, 2015

Holding Space


I'm visiting my Aunt Yvonne in northern California. She is quite frail, her once nearly six-foot frame shrunken, her voice a soft rasp. I read aloud to her a bit from Taylor Caldwell's novel about St. Paul, but after a few pages, she asked me to stop. We watched a movie with Clark Gable and Heddy Lamarr. She was considered the beautiful woman in the world, my aunt remarks, several times. Hedy is wearing some kind of silky white shirt with enormous shoulders. She is spectacularly beautiful. Why do people not look like that kind of beautiful anymore? I can't help but wonder what Aunt Yvonne is thinking about, so I ask her. Nothing, she says. Russian Orthodox icons stare down at us from bookshelves, madonnas with babies, heads tilted, halos. She's lying down now, and we're sitting here in silence. The sun slants across the floor, a bird chirps somewhere and the oxygen machine clicks and breathes, a steady beat, a wheeze, a puff.

16 comments:

  1. Stop by on your way down? I have space for you.

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    1. Unless my plane can make a pit stop, I'd have to meet you at LAX!

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  2. Meet me in the city before you head home?

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    1. Lisa - wish I could but not this time!

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  3. That last sentence, like life itself.

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    1. 37paddington -- I don't know how you've done it --

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  4. I have been in that room, that wheeze, that puff, that steady beat pulsing in time to my own electric breath and heartbeat.
    The book held open on my lap as someone I love goes so far away and then comes back, only to leave again.
    I love you.

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  5. somehow it all seems so peaceful to me...

    xo

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    1. Michelle -- There IS a peace to it, and there's a great deal of melancholy.

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  6. That seems very peaceful and even pleasant, despite the need for oxygen. I can't picture Hedy Lamarr off the top of my head but I'm going to look her up now. Wasn't she a World War II codebreaker or something like that?

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    1. Steve -- Yes. I believe she worked against the Germans (she was Viennese).

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  7. What a blessing you can be by her side!

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    1. Hello there! It's good to see your name again!

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    2. Hello there! It's good to see your name again!

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  8. I'm glad that you are spending this time with your dear aunt - glad that you are reading to her, glad that she is able and willing to tell you even a few of her thoughts. We are spending a lot of hours sitting with my 93-year old mother-in-law and father-in-law these days, so I am with you in spirit.

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