Bloggers meet Beth! She is the mother of two of the best friends I have ever had, Erin and Heather. She had a form of APLS that I will never understand fully in medical terms, only that, by the time I knew her well, when I was in High School, she had very little mobility and her speech was slurred. Still, she had a killer sense of humor and was one of the best moms I knew.
I say "new" because "Queen Elizabeth" passed away last Monday. It was one of those things that will always leave those who knew her wondering. What started as head trauma and a broken hip from an accidental fall, soon turned into an infection, ammonia, issues with her feeding tube, and eventually a blood clot in her lungs. In a lot of ways, it still doesn't seem real. There are people in this world that you expect to move on. Beth, despite her illness and the multiple infections she had over time, never seemed to be one that would die young.
I think its because despite her limitations, she never stopped living. She had a great sense of humor. She was truly the force that raised her daughters to be the people they are today. Even as they did so much to take care of her physical needs, she always made sure their emotional needs were met. I don't think they ever felt cheated out of a mother. Cheated out of a carefree childhood yes. But never cheated out of love.
When I got the call from Heather, that they were waiting to pull turn off the machines keeping her alive, I shared in the mixed sense of grief for the loss of a mother and relief of the loss of much worry. I wonder if Beth sensed that with both her daughters married and pregnant, it was time for her to move on.
Ms. Beth. Your absence hit home this weekend. I walked in your house and didn't see you sitting in front of the glass door while you typed your letters. I know your family talked of you dancing now in the sky. Maybe its because I never knew the walking Beth, but I picture you sitting, just off to the side, laughing and throwing out those zingers that always caught the world off guard.
Ms. Beth. I'm glad I knew you.
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things.
by Mary Oliver
published by Atlantic Monthly Press
© Mary Oliver