Monday, February 25, 2013

Amour


Today I saw the movie Amour.  I promise there will be no spoiler here, but there is an elderly couple both fighting the effects of aging and one more than the other, much more.  Amour is French for the word love, and the movie is entirely in French, which means there were subtitles to read.  The movie was at times painstakingly slow, but for good reason.  This isn’t really a post about a movie, no but something very similar.  I was raised for the majority of my life by my Papa and Granny.  My Granny is no longer with us, but my Papa is still here with us.  Part of the story reminded me so much of what I saw.
The couple in the film is Anne and Georges.  Anne suffers multiple setbacks including two strokes, which leaves part of her paralyzed.  The film is no romantic comedy.  Rather it is slow and filled with moving scene after another that takes place all in one house.  There’s no flashy remembrance of young love, but just what it takes to survive the difficult process of aging, alone together.  I was reminded when talking with my good friend Brent of what so many relationships are like in their elder years.  We often see just flashes of their love, a quick snapshot, and we just quickly remark, “What a cute old couple.”  We neglect to realize all of the work and time it takes especially with the process of aging that goes into a relationship.  A spouse taking care of another dying spouse is something uncomfortable.  It’s not taking someone out on a walk to get a little rehab in.  It’s not cooking a four course meal to show your appreciation.  Taking care of a dying family member, not just spouse to spouse, is much more than just taking a walk.  Taking care of someone dying is forgetting about your life as you know it, and letter theirs be your number one priority.  It’s lifting them off the toilet, giving them a shower; it’s comforting and holding their hand when they do not realize where they are, because they are scared. 
Many times when faced with someone hurting in your family that is hard to take care of, it’s almost natural to just put them into hospice, or into nursing home.  But, in my family and in Amour that wasn't the case.  The easy route was not taken, and the work stays at the house.  This is nice, because your loved one(s) stay close to you, but you also see their decline and ultimately their death.  You watch their smile turn into a bland look that just sticks.  Their energy falls to where sleep is the only productive activity.  Then they’re gone. 
The grieving doesn't happen at the funereal, because it’s already happened.  The grieving begins when you see your loved one suffering.  When you see that he/she is no longer what they used to be.  I remember a few years ago when I was a pallbearer at my Granny’s funeral, I didn't shed many tears.  Yes I did cry, it doesn’t take much to make me cry regardless.  But, I truly didn’t grieve, and I felt weird not doing it.  It was because I had been grieving while she was sick, while she was in pain.  It broke my heart I was away at college when she was the worst.  But, at the funeral there was almost a peace about my heart, and that was because she was truly at rest. 

Save a place for me Granny.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Baggage



I wish it would get better, smaller, distant, not near
I wait, and look both ways before crossing the street to make sure it is all clear
Before I feel again, I wait
It comes out of nowhere, unexpectedly and I try and act surprised when I see it 
I act curious and bewildered; surely this is not for me
Each time when it comes, it doesn’t come lighter, and more compact
No, it doesn’t remember that you have reconciled that memory
No, it doesn’t care that person is just a lost memory
It doesn’t care if you have a good day, or if you’re having a bad day

I ask it to go away I really do
I try not to bottle, but then it just comes out
I ask it for an appointment
I try to schedule a time to meet
I ask when it’s convenient
I try to accommodate when it might approach

My heart remembers it all
It is not gone, nor will it ever be
I’m who I am because of it all
He says one day you’ll know why, you will see
I’m tired of the questions and scared for the answers
I’m waiting for a day when these shoulders feel lighter
When I no longer have to answer the knock at the door
When I no longer have to say, baggage be no more