Lion at the Gate

LYou have not loved someone until you make love all night to “Nights in White Satin,” the Moody Blues’ song; until you read pages of truth to each other from the great classic writings; until you spontaneously drink long and deep from each other’s eyes; until you awaken in the night, lips wet from a dream kiss. This passage is an ode to a friend. I wrote this on July 14, 2012.

I saw the leaves beginning to change color as I gazed upon the trees lining the road stretching ahead, when at my age, 60, I began caring for Emma. I faced then my barren chances to encounter amid the fallen leaves of my life this kind of love again.

Shuffling through the dry leaves littering the ground, I discover that when I lift out and let the wind carry away the passion, the pain and the pleasure, what I am left with is unconditional  love, that pure love; it appears before me and all around me as existing in white light.

So it happened in autumn 2001 that the love aspect of passion and pleasure (and pain) that I might see in my future turned to another aspect of love, that of caregiving.

An aspect of caregiving for someone with dementia is dealing with healthcare agencies and aides who act demented. They’d show up just to collect a paycheck.  Sometimes they didn’t show up. They took control, disregarding my wishes.

It wasn’t all about them. And it wasn’t all about me. It was about Emma; it was about preserving her dignity and respect, about her comfort, about compassion for her condition. And Emma let them know despite her failing state.

What I did then seems like a dream. I reflected on my caregiving role with my hospice chaplain when she visited in July 2012, three months after Emma’s passing. She reminded me of the role I played throughout my lost decade: “You are the Lion at the Gate,” she said. Right. As caregiver, you are too involved giving care to think of that, or of yourself. The Lion at the Gate: I was constantly on guard; I learned to take no prisoners. Sometimes I had to just let go. I learned that, too. I had faith and trust.

Throughout my lost decade and beyond, I have spent no nights in white satin; but I’ll always be grateful to those who smoothed my way and Emma’s in her last months:  Daphne, our 30-hour-a-week Attendant Care Services aide (“Oh, was I supposed to give her the Haldol?” when Emma was agitated); and my extraordinary hospice team. Tess, our nurse, and Geri, our social worker, would sit and listen patiently for an hour to my fulminations and then suddenly it all got funny and we’d laugh and laugh.  At the end, my spiritual teacher friend got me through. I don’t know what I would have done without him. But, in between — as our chaplain told me, I had to learn to be the Lion at the Gate.

Now, today, April 14, 2015, spring has come. I have never been much interested in things, but rather in ideas and the beauty of nature surrounding me. On the road stretching ahead, therefore, my aspiration is simple: it is to stay on the path, this spiritual journey, as best I can in my humble way.

Samantha Mozart


12 Responses to Lion at the Gate

  1. Susan Scott says:

    Thank you for your lovely reply Samantha … Just gone 5 a.m. now the rising sun a way off still. The camels are not in view at this early hour. Amazing that we are connecting at the same time, something extremely special about that. I’ve had tea and coffee already.

    • sammozart says:

      I thought the same thing about our connecting at the same time, Susan. Of all the people, all over the world, who could be reading my blog or my Facebook page, and he were are, an ocean and a hemisphere away, connecting at the same time. It happens to me often when I think of a close friend, they call me or vice versa. I would love to hear your thoughts on this sometime. I think it shows us there’s more to this than meets the eye — a facet of the unconscious realm? You and I are definitely connected, in more ways than on the Internet.

  2. Susan Scott says:

    Samantha, as you can tell I am getting to your post very late in the day. Actually, it’s just gone 4.30 a.m. – we had an electricity cut out (grid under strain) from 6.00 p.m. last night which meant no connection with computer etc. Anyway, I woke earlier with a dream and checked that lights were now working and am now at my desk.

    When the lights go out and one sits in the darkness. And the wait is long and the grid/matrix feels weak. The path seems trembly, less sure, faith tenuous, doubt paramount. But as sure as the sun rises, the gate one has been patiently sitting besides will fully open and like the lion released into the wild, so will you Samantha, the lioness leaving the gate, continue to tread walk run.

    Thank you for this beautiful post.

    • sammozart says:

      Interesting, Susan. Just as you posted this, I saw it — because I am getting to my blog comment and blog reading late. Not that we had a power outage, but when such instances occur, they do give us pause for thought — to break our routines and take out our lives, as with any dream, and view them from a new perspective. With your Dreams A-Z series, you have helped me more than you know, more than I know so far — a journey into awareness from a different face of the mountain.

      I thank you. Thank you for coming by at 4:30 a.m., an hour I’ve been known to be sitting on my porch watching Camels, to impart your insight, wisdom and encouragement.

  3. Marsha Lackey says:

    There are so many aspects of your care giving that I can identify with. Your expression of events is heart warming and heart breaking at times. The help you were able to receive, kept your job somewhat easier, and very important, it gave you other, well trained people, to talk to and vent to. It is such a lonely task, caring for an ill loved one. Harder still when that beloved soul cannot communicate with you. You have proven yourself an accomplished Lion at the Gate.

    • sammozart says:

      Oh, so thoughtful, Marsha. Yes, caregiving, as you and all caregivers know, is a lonely job. No matter how much help you have you are still alone.

      I cried, yes, and I ranted, but, because of the superb help I had, we often could laugh, take the lid off the pot and release the steam.

      Thanks, Marsha, for expressing your understanding and compassion.

  4. Gwynn Rogers says:

    Samantha, you did an amazing job of caring for your mother. I don’t know how you managed. Even though my mom was with assisted living, I too had to learn about being the Lion at the Gate, as there were times I had to go rattle a few cages.

    The saying goes “there is a time, a season, and a reason” for what happens in life. I am still trying to figure some of this out. My path seems to be a long windy road. I am glad that I met you out here. This was an extraordinarily beautiful and poignant posting. Thank you for sharing.

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, We the Cage Rattlers, Gwynn. It’s a shame we have to be pushed to that. Re this long and winding road we’re on and the reasons, did you read Patricia’s comment here? What beauty and wisdom.

      Thank you for your kind compliment on my post. Writing it was deeply heartfelt.

  5. The Lion at the Gate rarely realizes what they are. They’re busy being what they are. A beautiful piece, and a beautiful role to fill. Glad I found you through the A to Z Challenge.

    – Eli @ Coach Daddy (#1186)

    • sammozart says:

      Thanks, Eli, for coming by. Yes, it was an interesting, new role for me, being the Lion at the Gate.

      Nice to meet you on the A-Zs.

  6. Pat Garcia says:

    And you will my dear. You will stay on your path, and you will stand, no longer as the lion at the gate waiting for it to open but as the lion that leaves walks through the gate, ready to explore what lies ahead.
    It is never too late to move ahead. We do have our long stop signs, where we stay in a certain place because of our commitment, our covenant, but after we have stood that test, we are given the chance to move out as we continue our paths. The funny part about it is that I believe when we pick up our path again, we will be surprised that we are just where we are supposed to be. In other words, we haven’t lost any time, because what is there for us has also just matured.

    I keep saying I am enjoying this series, but it is the truth. I sat here reading it and felt like we were sharing with one another.

    Keep on going, Samantha.

    • sammozart says:

      Yes, and your comment here feels like we are sharing, too, Patricia, in person. This is beautiful, what you say. The long stop sign. I love it, and it has been for me.

      You know, I keep telling myself that I am right where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing, but sometimes I wonder for what purpose, when really I should have faith and trust.

      You are right on the mark. Thank you, my dear friend. I shall cherish this.