There is always a sense of happiness, joy, anticipation, dread, impatience etc. in the process of waiting. The excited wait for a baby’s first smile, babble, speech, for them to take their first step, for them to run… the list goes on. As one grows older, the wait for that first job, first salary, trying to understand how your career would progress, waiting for that perfect partner, and other milestones in a person’s life keeps them on their toes, eagerly awaiting the next adventure. They each bring us a sense of joy or relief, anxiety or excitement, and eventually, peace and contentment.
As our expectations grow – the wait for the achievement of each of the milestones also gets longer. But one of the toughest that I have come to realize, is the wait for a person to embark upon their final journey. As we go through life and see others go through joys, sorrows, health setbacks, financial setbacks, love and loss – there is a sense of sadness or joy, but we may never wholeheartedly relate to it.
As my 87-year-old mum lies in her bed, completely immobilised, with her strength and only real companionship coming from the hallucinations that haunt her every waking moment, (which is a source of pain for the rest of us at home as we helplessly watch her battle her demons) – this is when the anxiety of waiting really hits home. The long wait for the final hours, for the relief from pain and fear and helplessness– for the journey into light, joy and everything else on the other side.
The human journey, as much as it is peppered with so much joy, gratitude, laughter and love, is also filled with health setbacks as one gets on in age. The most painful thought for me is knowing that at the start of each brand-new day, which is a source of joy for the rest of us, a chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh- is a nightmare for my mother, who only sees the rising sun as another day of living through the painful ennui that is now her life, bound to her bed and being rendered a child in every aspect. The simple tasks that we often take for granted seem insurmountable and is something she needs help with. I am left often wondering at such times, when she is battling her pain, if there is a higher power, and if they indeed listen to her impassioned cries for an end to her journey. I also wonder if all of this pain, and the long journey, is pre-ordained. I wonder what life lessons there would be to learn as we go through another 24 hours of pain with the few hours of merciful drugged sleep.
I ask her if she has any desires which she wants to see fulfilled, she looks at me with a glazed look in her eyes – wondering why the hell I am talking to her about her desires. As much as I do believe that everything is here and now to be experienced, I do wonder about the lessons to be learnt, and what waiting truly teaches us.