After all, there are currently so many possibilities of how life can be rough, the COVID-19 pandemic having dropped a whole new world of interconnected maladies, misfortunes, and unhappiness on top of the already vastly numerous run-of-the-mill happenings that can make life rough.
I suppose a variation of the famous quote from Tolstoy's Anna Karenina could sum it up: These days everybody's life is rough in its own way.
As for me, it was a fairly run-of-the mill development, I suppose, yet ushering in no less of an emotional upheaval than a more seismic one might have, that propelled me into my rough week: A week and a day ago I was told that my mother, 100 years and 5 months old, was near the end of her life.
My mother lived in her own house until one year ago,
By June the quarantine had been lifted slightly for care facilities and for the next five months I was allowed to spend half an hour once a week with my mother sitting outside twelve feet apart. I watched her hearing and cognition deteriorate week by week, though the Sunrise staff assured me that she was still active and quite social. I felt that if I were able to still come and see her every day she wouldn't forget who I was; if I could just sit with her and hold her hand she would be better.
One of the nurses suggested that, as several of my mom's friends had baby dolls, I buy a baby doll for my mom, too. From then on, they tell me, my mom was never without her baby. She always brought her baby along for our visits.
She was weak when I saw her on Friday, bedridden by Saturday. On Sunday I was told my mother was "in transition" - from life to death, I suppose. I've sat with my mother every day for the past eight days, two, three, four hours a day in mask, face shield and gloves.
But sometimes when one or two of her Sunrise caregivers enter the room, all cheerful and bubbly and fussing over her, my mom springs back to life, reaches for a hug, kisses them, tells them she loves them, that she’ll miss them, prays that God will bless them.
And so it's gone for the past eight days. And while I've felt mostly bathed in the comfort and kindness of family, friends, and the Sunrise caregivers, several days ago I fell apart, briefly. A remark was made to me concerning my mother, so harsh and unkind and unexpected that it left me not only momentarily speechless, but momentarily breathless.
For the first time since I learned that my mother was dying, I cried. And cried. I told my sister about the mean remark that was made to me. I told my husband, my children, my friends, I laid awake at night and ruminated and cried some more.
The following day I spent an hour sitting in our family room on the phone with a friend discussing, dissecting, analyzing and psychoanalyzing the remark. When I hung up the phone my husband entered the room and said, "Look in the kitchen. Somebody sent you cupcakes."
On the kitchen table was a box of a dozen beautiful cupcakes.
My mother used to say that a little kindness was like water that could bring a parched flower in a desert back to life. I might add that a cupcake desert can work wonders as well.