The choices left to us were not about cure,
nor even for long about care;
and so we began to distil from each moment that remained
the intensest liquor of love and memory,
while swallowing, force fed, the bitter pill
of grief that would linger longer than her, my mother.
Two things became clear on the precipitous slope of dying.
Two things not so much spoken about as known,
and so in their way chosen:
We would make those last weeks (eight only from woe to go)
a time of love for her:
warm light and flowers and silken music;
and second, that according to her wish, we would bring her home
to her own place, before she would leave it for good.
Life is sweet, she used to say,
and meant it;
and we wanted to make her leaving it sweet in its way,
for her sake and ours
despite the horror of disease,
the shut-down of functions,
the failure of flesh.
She came home,
and confined to her bed was already a little removed from us.
She had time with each one,
taking love, giving blessing.
It was as if she were gilded with light from another element.
We stretched time to its elasticized limit,
reliving in the dying
all that was precious in past and in present.
The old house creaked with bodies camped out,
young and old, around her,
and towards the end
the rumble and swish of her breathing set the rhythm for us all.
Kill or cure, survive or die,
one thing I now know because of my mother-
from her and for her-
love is a choice,
always the best choice,
and it knows not failure,
and it does not finish.