As I drive the seven hours to my mom’s facility where she is suffering from end-stage dementia, my heart beats fast and fills up with pale blue, silky pink emotions. At 6:30 a.m. I’ve been driving for over an hour. The sun begins its rosy ascent over the paved hard highway, and I’m lulled by the soft snores of my daughter in the passenger seat and my two young grandsons in the back seat, covered from chin to toe in soft flannel blankets.
They’ve insisted on coming with me on this quick weekend 7-hour one-way, 7-hour-return trip to comfort our elderly mom/grandmother/great-grandmother. My daughter has always been extremely close to my mom, and she has told herself that Nanny is not really there anymore – that Nanny’s soul has gone to God, but her body is still hanging on.
“The soul can never be corrupted with the corruption of the body, but it is like the wind which causes the sound of the organ, and which ceases to produce a good effect when a pipe is spoilt..”
― Leonardo Da Vinci, Thoughts on Art and Life
Is that true? Is the soul strong enough to escape the body before the body is willing to give up? I talked to a hospice nurse a little while ago asking just this question, and she stared straight into my eyes and said definitively: we don’t know.
“I’m not a body with a soul, I’m a soul that has a visible part called the body.”
― Paulo Coelho, Eleven Minutes
So much we don’t know. But as I drive alone, with three other passengers in dreamland, I mouth the words to the songs playing on my daughter’s phone. She has “streamed” a Beatles station for me. She doesn’t particularly like the Beatles, but she knows how much I do. I realize it’s her way to comfort me while she sleeps beside me in this enclosed moving space.
“Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away, oh I believe in yesterday,” Paul McCartney sings.
But I wonder, is that true? Did my troubles seem far away yesterday and close at hand today? I don’t think so. I think our souls are built to withstand troubles, yesterday and today. Troubles are part of life: love, loss, birth, sickness, joy, pain, death.
“All you need is love!” the foursome declare in bright delight now.
Exactly. Tears flow down my cheeks as I drive. The early morning sun’s glare can be my excuse. My soul may be delicate, but it’s not fragile. My soul – all of our souls – are built to withstand the joy of love, and the pain of losing someone we love.
At least, I certainly hope so.
“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”
― Jalaluddin Mevlana Rumi