Monday, March 22, 2010

The well

We had driven down from Belgium to Italy and were south of Genoa when the call came. My Mom was in the hospital with a stomach flu and a lung infection. So we drove back up to Paris and saw her yesterday. Her cheeks were pink, probably from a slight fever and from the oxygen. She was in a deep slumber.
We managed to wake her up a few times so that she could swallow a spoonful of jellied water (she rips out the iv’s). She opened her eyes, saw us, closed them again, dutifully swallowed. When asked if she wanted more, she mouthed "non". I asked her if she was really sleeping and she mouthed "oui". I asked if she was having pleasant dreams and she mouthed "oui" again, with the faintest shadow of a smile, a smile tenuous enough to be just a memory.
I reminded her of the time I had surgery, many years ago when I was a young mother with three kids. She came to the recovery room and sat by my bed holding my hand, just as I did yesterday. She was urging me to wake up, over and over. I remember hearing her voice from the bottom of a very deep and narrow well and I wanted to reply but I couldn’t because I was so far down and my voice wouldn’t carry. She kept calling and I kept answering in the silence of the well but I must have moved my lips as the tone of her voice lost its urgency.
She said “She’s waking up, I think” and indeed a few minutes later I was back in the world of the living. Yesterday, I remembered the well. So I talked to her. I told her about our drive to Italy, about how close we had been to Sestri Levante when the call came and we turned back.
She once spent a few days there with my Dad. He took a picture of her in a white peignoir sitting under the arch of an antique window overlooking the sea. I don’t know where the picture is today, maybe in the boxes we haven’t gone through yet.
Even as a little girl, I knew that this portrait of my mother was about love and passion and youth and that it was timeless, that a part of her would always be sitting there in a chaste garment under the old curved stone and that my Dad had captured with his lens something essential and eternal.
I recognize this young woman in my sleeping mother. Already elfin, she has lost some weight and the structure of her face is more visible. She looks beautiful. Her skin is very soft, almost transparent on her hands where the thin veins create a delicate estuary. She is tottering on the edge of time and we don't know yet whether or not she will pull back. But I whisper into the well and I know she hears me.


  1. I wish I could say something...

  2. MC, I hope she will hear you loud and clear and come back. You are a wonderful daughter, keep on calling her. She probably needs the sleep to get her strength back.


  3. Take care, MC!! I don't know what else to say!
    Esther in Ottawa

  4. I don't know you nor your mother, but I will say a prayer for you and for her. You just seem like like such a lovely person. I feel as if I know you from following your extraordinary blog. I wish you well.
    BPL - luv2cknbk

  5. J'espere que ta maman se sentira mieux, prends soin d'elle. Mes prieres sont avec vous deux.

  6. My loving thoughts are with you, dear Marie-Claude,
    Kaye x

  7. Thank you all for your comforting words. I am glad we were able to come back in time to see her on Sunday. Yesterday I am not sure she was aware of our presence.

  8. Dear MC,

    Our best wishes and love to you and your family.


  9. MC, Hope for the best for you and Maman.


  10. Dear MC, how difficult this must be for you.

    While your beloved mother may not be able to show outward signs of your presence, be assured that she senses you and feels your touch.

    Blessings to you both.


  11. Dear MC,
    I hope the best for you and your mother.

  12. Praying for your mother, you and your family. I'm sure sheknows you're there and is comforted by that.

  13. "I whisper into the well and I know she hears me."


    I think she does.


  14. I'm so sorry about your mother. But so happy that you enjoyed your trip to Paris with her. She sounds like she was an amazing lady

  15. Beautiful...I think she heard you...

  16. Thank you all for being there. I was lucky to have my mom as long as I did and I know time had come for her to go but parting is still painful. Your thoughts and words were a great source of emotional support. Thank you again.



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