The Warriors Pose

The last time I sat with her in church was like sitting in a draft. She was next to me, somehow knowing she was in her church of 40 years, but there was a current of air separating her from me. She smiled and I chose to believe it was a smile of familiarity even though she referred to me as “that lady with a nice smile”.

That lady. The one who’d grown inside of her for 9 months, who she’d taken to piano lessons and sewn clothes for. Her first born, first daughter who she instilled an interest in art and a desire for lifelong learning was ‘that lady‘.

She was there in body but there was a presence that was missing. It made the air still, stagnant.

I decided to fly cross country to visit my sister on the first Mother’s Day after mama passed. It felt right to be there, as if it would somehow redeem the loss.

I thought it would be easy.  But when my eyes peeled open in the early morning light on Mother’s Day, sleeping in my nephews room at my sisters house 3000 miles from mine, I missed her. I missed mama sitting next to me not knowing who I was but smiling kindly.

You see, she was a warrior. Her life had been given to fighting for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. She’d organized teams of volunteers to take kids shopping at Christmas. She lead food drives and took coats to families needing protection from the harsh winters. She’d enlisted a whole army who never realized they too were warriors.

Bit by bit we would lose her memories of being a family. The look of uncertainty covered her face. She was lost and searching not only for memories but for words and meaning.There was no fighting Alzheimer’s. It was always going to win.

Somehow her reverence for scripture remained long after our connection was lost.  On my husband’s last visit with me he pulled up a passage from the Bible on his phone and started reading. Her body stilled as she focused all she had on the words being read. She seemed to give a slight nod of affirmation. It was something I held onto as if a small victory had been won.

In yoga, the warrior pose is standing with legs apart and arms stretched outward. It doesn’t appear to be a warrior-like position. Rather than looking like one ready for battle it’s one of complete openness. It was the pose mama held as she fought poverty and loneliness. Compassion always stands firm, arms always outstretched.

Alzheimer’s left ongoing grief in its wake. Grief is stealthy in its attack brought on by the best of memories. It aims for the heart. Some days I want to take the curl-up-in-a-ball-and-watch-Netflix pose. Instead, I allow the grief to wash over me, blinking back the salty tears filling my eyes.  An open heart is stronger than we can imagine. 

I’m a fighter I remind myself. I come from a long line of strong women, women who stood firm in conviction and held their arms wide open for family and strangers. There is no assurance you won’t be hurt. To the contrary, there is evidence you will be hurt. Again and again. But you won’t stop fighting.

It can feel a little like losing but love sometimes does.

Only the truest of warriors expose themselves in battle. They stand unarmed and unprotected, with arms of grace wide open.

6 thoughts on “The Warriors Pose

  1. Betsy says:

    I love you❤️Our moms sound so much alike. Hard not to miss them. As I walk the road of Alzheimer’s with Jim I understand the loss of the person you once knew.
    Like yourself, grief wants to take over at times, but like yourself I am a warrior. So grateful God is on our side. You are a special lady with so many gifts.

    • Debby says:

      Most definitely, Betsy, our mom’s were a force to reckon with but only because they put others first. And yes, my friend, you ARE a warrior! xx

  2. askauntmelody says:

    I’m moved to tears as I think about the many ways the body betrays the person …as we live life, as we encounter assaults, as we experience illness, as we age. It seems, perhaps, our mission as warriors is to remember we are not our bodies. We are so much more.

    Holding peace as we all walk this road.

    • Debby says:

      What a good word from you Melody – “we are not our bodies”. You have much wisdom and I’m grateful for your generous spirit. Yes, peace for our journey. xx

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