This is her life, I think as my pen clicks and scratches on the page. I’m trying to keep up with her voice as bits of her life come alive to both of us. The IV machine beeps, I pause my pen and the recorder at once. A nurse comes in. Mom is polite to everyone. She has always had good manners. The lighting in the room is industrial. My eye catches Mom’s toe moving under the white blanket. I feel like I am in a dream.
Bags changed, machine reset, and the nurse’s exit makes us both say, “Okay.” We get back to the task at hand. The recorder has a red light. I hope I’m using it correctly. We talk quickly through her childhood because there is nothing she wants to remember. I knew it wasn’t great, but I am sad as she can’t recall any happy memory, fun time, or pleasant family moments. Chaotic and unsafe are words she uses so I am glad to move on as well.
We are weaving through her adulthood when the nurse knocks gently and comes in right after. I stop writing and watch in amazement at the bright red bag of fluid swinging as the nurse walks in. “It’s actually pretty,” I said, “I mean compared to all the other medicine hanging on the pole.” Mom chuckles, and the nurse agrees with me. I like this nurse. She’s a jolly person. She hooks up the blood bag to my mom’s port, and fiddles with the IV machine. After a few beeps, the blood flows into her veins. I watch in amazement as the red liquid flows through the clear tubing. “You’ll feel better now,” the nurse says cheerily and leaves.
I can’t stop staring at the blood’s redness. “Now I won’t be so short of breath,” Mom said matter-of-factly. Life. Breath. Blood. She needs it to live. I need it to live. You need it to live. I can’t help but think of Jesus. Remember Me, Jesus said. Do this in remembrance of Me. This is My blood, poured out for many.
Mom reminisces good things in marriage, great things in raising children. Raising six children creates busyness that blurs memories. She laughs when I ask about what she did for leisure. My eyes continue to be drawn to the blood flowing into my mother’s arm. The child in me wants to delve into reasons for divorce, but I am clear that there is not an answer that can be voiced. She remembers those few dark years after, and in my mind I see her at that time in the haze of depression. I want to move on, but I wait for her. She is talking about happier times in which she is strengthened. Her faith deepened.
I am amazed by the life-giving quality of blood. If only her body would make her own blood.
The next memory is the beginning of cancer, doctors, and hospitals. We remember dates together. There are many.
We continue our memory recording, and I am at the end of the questions. “What do you love?” I ask feeling weary. “God. My children. My friends. Dancing. Quiet time.” A few more questions, and Mom is ready for a nap.
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? How precious is that flow that makes me white as snow. No other fount I know. Nothing but the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God.