I spent the past few weeks saying goodbye to my mother who had a heart attack on May 20th. My extended family and I spent nearly three with her in the hospital, holding her hand, putting cool cloths on her forehead, talking to her, looking deep into her eyes.
Hour by hour, we followed her progress. We asked a thousand questions of each and every nurse, cardiologist, pulmonologist, infection disease doctor, and intensive care specialist who cared for her. We listened to their answers. We asked follow-up questions. And follow-ups to the follow-ups. We called on our friends who were doctors to translate. We learned much about her failing heart and our breaking hearts.
We watched the vital signs monitor over her bed--the one that measures blood pressure, heart rate, respiration rate, and several other functions. The black screen flashed color-coded numbers and wave lines that rose and fell in distinctive patterns in bands across the screen.
The information on the monitor offered no comfort. Nor did what we learned from the nurses and doctors with each passing day. I looked elsewhere for solace--first to the sky and clouds, but the humid hazy sky was bereft of clouds. The morning birdsong lost its beauty. So, too, did the beautiful branching trees in their summer green, the yellow lilies and "knock-out" roses in the garden, the splashing fountain, the deer and fox on the lawn, the meadow of grasses blowing in the wind. For once, Nature could provide no solace, comfort, or metaphor for my sadness. Everything was what it was and nothing more.
Flying back from my first visit, however, I photographed the cloudscape (above) from 38,000 feet. I thought it was some kind of joke and shut my window shade.
Flying back from my second visit, the last with my mother, the clouds were different.