The aria ended. The Phantom and I stood in silence there at the open window of the blog cupola. The man continued to play his flute. We floated on the evening
My mind drifted back to last summer, 2011. I thought of my little family that I took care of: Every morning getting my mother, Emma, up and dressed, during her last stages of dementia; helping her step down the sixteen stairs with their narrow treads and her iron grip on the balusters; getting her to the table to eat the breakfast she once prepared for herself – orange juice, oatmeal or Cheerios with bananas, strawberries and/or blueberries in skim milk. I thought of the times I’d prepare lunch for myself and run it up the back stairs to my studio, racing Jetta, Emma’s blue teacup poodle, who would run up the front stairs because the back stairs were too steep for her, and we’d see who got to my studio first so she could have her treat. Then Jetta got sick and I had her put to sleep in December 2012, four months before Emma’s passing. Then Emma got tired, so very tired. “I don’t know how I got here,” she said in her agitated state in January. “How do I get out of here?” I could see it coming. So did our hospice team. Their attention shifted away from her and to me.
Just then an osprey circled the field and flew straight at the Phantom and me standing at the cupola window, like we were in the control tower and it was coming in for a landing. The black mask across its eyes looked like the painted bands that wrap around the windshield and windows of a commercial jetliner.
“The Lone Raptor,” said the Phantom, “on his wings of tarnished silver.”
The osprey came close to the window, nodded, veered off to its left and was gone.
I remembered Emma as she was, before dementia tarnished her mind. Now, in June 2012, five, six, seven weeks after Emma’s passing I have found myself thinking, “Hmm, here I am all by myself, no little dog, no mother to care for, a house that suddenly got really big: Besides my writing, what do I do now? What is my spiritual path? My spiritual advisors tell me to continue my caregiving. How do I do that? What do I do?”
All the old thoughts stacked up on the roof of my mind like factory chimneys.
To be continued …