Traveling with Visitors

Traveling with Visitors

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Traveling with Visitors

He that gives all, though but little, gives much;
because God looks not to the quantity of the gift,
but the quality of the givers.

~Francis Quarles

My mother’s face was illuminated, free of signs of anxiety or pain. Her eyes were wide open and brilliantly clear, their lids no longer shuttering from acute spasms of pain. A wonderful, bubbling laughter spilled forth from her lips while she conversed with her visitor.

Standing unseen in the doorway of her bedroom, I peered silently at the miraculous transformation in my terminally ill mother, watching her wait patiently for a reply from her visitor then continue with her animated words and laughter. My mother was quite lucid, and her aphasia (difficult speech) improved when she spoke with her visitor.

This wasn’t the first time I’d noticed this strange, baffling phenomenon. Physically, her body lay in a hospital bed in my home, ravaged by breast cancer, which spread to her bones, brain and other organs. She required complete care for every daily need, which I provided with the help of hospice. But I knew she was slowly traveling away from this physical earth, preparing to take her final journey. It had started the day she called me into her room with a voice that was coherent and clear as a bell. “Claire, tell that man to move away from the television. I can’t see my soaps.”

I, of course, saw no one, but my mother’s head was tilted, trying to watch her shows. I yelled out anyway, “Hey, move it! My mom can’t see around you!”

“He’s not moving,” Mother chuckled. She waved her hand at me and just continued to watch her show, peering around her visitor. I asked her who he was, and she gave me a look that intimated I was the one who was utterly confused. “You know who. Now be quiet, I’m watching my show.” She wrinkled her face at me then ignored me, keeping her head tilted at that strange angle.

During the past weeks, a man came to play cards in a chair in her room. Her deceased mother stood there shaking her finger at her. Her deceased aunt sat on her bed, talking about past days when they were young. And there were others who she wouldn’t introduce me to. Sometimes I interrupted their talks, questioning Mother about her visitors. She tried to include me in their conversations, but soon I got an exasperated look thrown my way before she turned and explained to her visitor that I was her strange daughter.

But I knew my mother was leaving me and starting to travel closer to her new home. Were her visitors guides, helping her begin her journey to her new home as she leaves her tired worn-out body behind? Some days I asked her if she wanted to go with them. Her reply was, “They’re visiting me, Claire. I’ll go visit them soon. Now I’d like something to drink.”

The past days, her visitors have been coming more frequently, spending more time in her room. Between visits she sleeps, restless, moving her hands and legs. I even whisper in her ear, “Go to the light, Mother.” How can I be selfish and try to keep her here when there is a better place for her where she won’t suffer any longer?

Today, my mother was staring up at one corner of the ceiling as I encouraged her to eat at least three spoonfuls of food. I inquired what she was staring at. Very calmly, she answered, “I’m just watching those three angels fly around. Each time they come, I know I’m going to have another visitor.”

My mouth dropped open in shock. Angels. I watched her glazed eyes clear up once again, her facial features smooth out and a warm smile appear on her lips.

Her death quickly approaches, but my mother, her angels and her visitors have shown me not to be fearful or upset about her next step of leaving this earth. I know now she won’t be alone.

~Claire Luna-Pinsker

Chicken Soup for the Caregiver’s Soul

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