Contrasts--Worldly Disappointment, Spiritual Hope
The beauty of the desert
such a feeling of duality yet awe
at powerful, desolate mountains
mild weather and flowers all around
Spring being in full bloom,
contrasts with my heavy heart
Visiting my Mom for 5 days
I live at her home, thinking, and praying
then going to the hospital with more contrasts
new and well maintained building, full of misery,
I can only bear a few hours stay
Haven’t seen her in 15 years
due to her choice (a very long story)
which we both lament
so seeing her is bitter/sweet
meaningful, healing for us.
Her house full of memories
for her deceased husband (her 3rd)
the love of her life, his cut short
their house became only a shadow
initial bliss became sorrow,
she never recovered.
Looking at old family pictures
her life full of promise and hope
a child with vital happy eyes
then a young women with passion for men
merging into my baby pictures
very few happy days with my father.
Most people’s lives are so mixed
a once spirited women, now helpless
practically skin and bones
rough, sagging skin, spots, veins protruding
she groans a lot, not feeling well
so embarrassed to not control her bowels.
I hold her hand trying to comfort
while we speak and smile of old days
she apologizes for not entertaining me
and for being so many years apart
we both acknowledge our mistakes
so hard to see her suffer.
In spite of seeing her in such misery
I know being here is important
a kind of closure, opening our hearts
cutting our bonds, just being together
coming daily I pray for her
hiding my tears since I can’t do more.
As she nears the end we prepare
to put her into hospice for care
acknowledging there is no recovery
heroic measures won’t be used
her condition only worsening
until her heart and body gives up.
Very sobering experience beyond
scriptural theory, the fire of ordeal
practical demonstration of impermanence
there is no material counteraction
our family albums and mementos
become someone else’s garbage.
Think of your family pictures
memories, the stuff you collected
the worldly things you hold dear
if you were to die tomorrow
what would they mean to others
as it is we who give our things meaning.
Shall we die in ignorance as my Mom
or be prepared and convinced of our eternity?
O the material life that gives false promises
of future happiness and fulfillment
which we may obtain only for a time
to be kicked out and evicted from our body.
Our real treasure in the spiritual, eternal
holy name, saintly association, devotional
service, reading scripture, or anything
which bears spiritual progress/investment
cleaning our heart, opening our eyes
being released from birth and death.
If you need help understanding this
visit, or volunteer in a nursing home
remembering you're looking at covered souls
in such an abode of misery, dashed hopes
the final chapter for the aged
seeing their sad faces, dependent condition.
Not that we must be morose
but philosophical, spiritually joyful
taking our happiness in the soul
a higher taste changes our view of life
as Prabhupada told us in his last days,
“Don’t think this won’t happen to you”.