Tara Nanayakkara

One Year Ago Today

MarciaOne year ago today I was preparing the marinade for jerk chicken when the phone rang. It was my brother wondering if I'd like to drop by The Home to visit our mother, Marcia Nanayakkara.

"She would really like to see you," he said.

"But I'm in the middle of cooking now. We are coming to the home tomorrow anyway."

"Come now."  His tone was casual but I sensed something wasn't right.

At the age of 88 and in the final, debilitating stages of Parkinson's I knew my mother' s days on this earth were numbered.  That said, I had no reason to believe the end was inevitable - one day soon. Soon is a relative word.

I'd seen my mother just two days before and she was in pain but sitting upright in her wheelchair. We went to the lounge and she asked me the usual question.

"What news?"

I typically assumed that my children and I would keep to our very frequent visiting schedule to the nursing home. We would carry on til one day my mother would quietly transition out of this world and move on to the next one.

That day was far closer than any of us realized.

After putting the chicken in the fridge, I found my husband who was doing some renovation work somewhere in the house and told him about the call.

He didn't see the urgency but he drove me there anyway.

My mother was no longer sitting up in her wheelchair inquiring about the world around her.  Instead we found her lying in bed, with blankets up to her chin.  Her face was contorted in pain. There was a prescient shift in my soul at that moment.  I knew that something was very wrong.

I sought out the nurse on duty.  She showed me into her office.  She did not mince words.

"Your Mom is dying."

Yes of course she was dying.  Aren't we all from the day we are born.  Only in her case she had lived her life and maybe she had a few months, a year maybe?

"She has maybe a few days to a couple of weeks," the nurse was telling me but I had already tuned her out.

What in the name of God had happened to my mother within the forty-eight hour period since I had last seen her?

The next four days of our lives represented a tableau of angst and sadness, the cloying grief of losing a mother, a grandmother, a friend to many and a teacher to all.

Today one year later, we've lived through the dreaded firsts, the first Easter, the first Mother's day, all our birthdays , Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas and all the events in between.

One year ago today, I woke up with plans to celebrate my daughter's birthday.  As we celebrated a young beautiful life that was on the cusp of adulthood, we were watching the passing of a much older life slipping into the arms of eternity.

One year ago today...