by Cathy Arden on February 13, 2013

This is the way of life now.  My mother is dying and not dying. She has been dying and not dying for eight years.  I fight to keep her alive even though she is not living and, if she knew what was happening, would want to check out of here.  I’ve been fighting to keep her alive all these years.  I don’t know if I’ve been doing the right thing, but there was no other way to go.  People tell me I should “let go,” that maybe my mother is hanging on for me, because she knows I am fighting for her life so she had best stay alive.  I haven’t figured out what letting go means.  My mother still needs care, and I need to make sure she has the best care there is.  Further than that…what?  What does letting go mean?  She’s been in home hospice care for the past three months.  What that means is that when a crisis occurs, no more hospital.  So I guess you could say, in this way, I made a move toward letting go.  An oxygen tank sits by her bed at the ready.  That, and what Hospice calls a “comfort kit” – drugs to keep her comfortable, if necessary. But yesterday my mother almost choked to death.  I had given her some chips as she saw me eating them, she hadn’t eaten any dinner, and I was happy she was interested in food.  So I gave her the chips.  And she choked. Her face turned blue, and I thought, “Oh my God. This is it. This is how it will happen.  My mother is going to die right here, choking on a chip I gave her.”  But in her panic, she managed to find her breath, and color came back to her face, and I wiped the tears from her cheeks.  And I was relieved.  And so was she.

While my mother is dying and not dying, I make sure I am upside down as many times a week as possible.  Yes, head to the floor, feet up in the air.  I find that standing on my head is saving my life.  I crave being upside down.  I discovered this when I started practicing Iyengar Yoga.  I was drawn to it right after I switched my mother into home hospice care, as if my body knew what it needed to set things right.  When I’m not standing on my head, I feel like I’m falling in on myself, that the core is collapsing.  Upside down, I am at least physically strong, bearing the weight of my physical world with every ounce of muscle and bone strength I have.  Because the soul and the spirit and the poetic heart have given way.  Inner resources are low.  Headstands lift me up in a way I’ve never been lifted before.  Yes, like the song.  Albeit, a different song, but still about love.

I had a dream about being upside down many years ago.  When I awoke, I wrote THE FLYER.  Maybe the unconscious had a premonition of what was to come.  Perhaps I’ve been moving toward inversion for a long time now.


There is a kingdom
where I will care for
the animal inside the heart
the skin is as thick
as a tree trunk
that old
it looks right at you
it knows more than you do

walk between the trees
for centuries
and you will know the sun
no better than you do now
there is safety only
in shelter
the birds grease their wings
to fly in the rain

I dreamed that a young girl in red
called herself the wind
we called her “the flyer”
and when she came to me
I was lying down
pretending to sleep
thinking if I could only
lose my awareness
greater things would happen

she lifted my legs
above my head
and I couldn’t help myself
I said, “I want to fly with you”
there was a room full of people
as there always is
waiting to see what would happen

in the old dreams
flying was a given
I was on my own
in the air
for so long

the young girl in red
humors me
she means well
she aims to please
but I am merely upside down
in a small house
with a living room full of couches

Don’t misunderstand —
I still live for flight

but I am older now
the witnesses have disappeared
they are dispensable
I simply walk between the trees
that already have the sun inside them
I look for the animal
inside the heart and I soar

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Amanda Campbell February 13, 2013 at 9:47 PM

This is so touching Cathy, for me letting go means getting out of the way, often my own way.


Barbara February 13, 2013 at 11:30 PM

Beautiful, Cathy,and eloquently expressed. Perhaps we should all spend more time upside down.. Maybe it would help us all let go. Thank you for sharing some a private time.


Iris February 14, 2013 at 12:20 AM

I so look forward to reading your posts, your writing has gut-wrenching honesty with a lyrical style. So touching. My heart goes out to you.


Lisa February 14, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Really amazing. I was so touched when I read this. More, please write more!! I love your writing and always have.


Steve Howard February 14, 2013 at 9:02 PM

Anne and I watched our friend Vera leave the other day. I kissed her on the forehead, but she was unconscious. I wish I had done it sooner. She was 94.


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