Tony's words

My friend Tony is going through a tough time. You can see it in his tired eyes, the slump of shoulders, the clench of his jaws. 

His mother is dying, and not so gracefully, I'm afraid. He talks about wanting to do right by her, and how hard that is when her anger flares and she hangs up on him.

So something he said Sunday pierced my heart like an arrow.

"I'm doing the best that I can."

I get weepy every time I think about the surrender in his voice and his faraway look.

And I've been thinking about why those words reached inside so deeply and made a haunting sound like a  bow across a cello.

I think it's this:

For all their courage and love and endurance, people of great heart like Tony sooner or later stumble upon the limits of their power, like someone in a dark room who can't find the light switch no matter how hard they try.  It's not the kind-one's fault; some rooms simply don't have lights.

But how can a person who's never been in the room before possibly know this? And when dawn's light exposes the bare walls, will Tony be able to forgive himself for not finding what could not be found? Will he hold himself to impossible standards?

Or will he still believe he did the best he could?

I pray he does. I pray we all do.

Image by [xinita] is Oliver Twist!


Rudee said…
Some people are impossible to please and try as he may, Tony may not be able to help his mother through this, but he can help himself. She is grieving too-and it sounds like she is hung up in the anger phase. I recommend Dr. Ira Byock's book, Dying Well (the subtitle is The Prospect for Growth at the End of Life). It has great significance to the dying and their families though it sounds like your friend's mother would not want to read something like this. Still, it may give him some insight. Dr. Byock also has an amazing website at: . It's worth a visit. Promise.

I wish peace to both of them.
Rudee said…
I found a video of Dr. Byock you may like at bigthink. There are a few there, but the last half of this one has an important message.
Derrick said…
Hello Kathleen,

Lovely thoughts, words and music. Having a friend like you ought to help Tony.
Gaston Studio said…
Fear makes us do and say weird things; sending prayers for Tony and his mom.
Pyzahn said…
I hope the beautiful music fills Tony's heart and eases some of the despair.
Alex the Girl said…
Ah, I can feel Tony's pain. While my mom is not dying, she is seriously ill, and her time with us isn't as long as it use to be. She is bitter and angry, and like Tony, patience is trying. I hope Tony can find peace. It's so hard being angry at the person you love, esp. during times like the ones they are having.
Grace Albaugh said…
I'm glad he has you to think warm thoughts for him. Wrap him in your thoughts Kathleen. It will help so much.
Thanks for the beautiful music today too.
~ ennui ~ said…
Such insight and beautiful always, amazing.
Joanna said…
I think that "doing the best we can" is the very most that any of us can do at any time. Sometimes I think about my mother who lost it from time to time as a single mom with two little girls. She did the very best she could and it was good. We all have lapses and we need to forgive ourselves (and others) for them.
Kathleen said…
Holy buckets, blogfriends: Thank you so much for kind words, your sympathy, your suggestions, your prayers, your support, and your great big hearts.

You don't know Tony. You don't know me. And yet you've reached across the distance with you goodness...I'm deeply touched and will make sure Tony know about your comments.

Anonymous said…
Holy crap did I need this post. Thank you so so so much. Thank you. Thanks to Tony, too.

My Mother called me yesterday to tell me yet again what a loser I am. She pointed out that I am nearly 40 and have done nothing in her eyes. My art does not matter. She told me to get a job (I have been trying to find a job for months.) She knows I will soon be homeless and she asked me to "consider her life". She wanted me to feel sorry for her because she may have to delay some landscaping she wanted done.

All I have done my whole life is listen to her and love her and try to show her that she is loved, but she still sees me as the enemy. She sees everyone as the enemy. I wish I could fix that. I wish I could heal her. At this point, for my own sanity and survival, I think I need to shut the door to that dark room you mention and leave her alone in there. With her piles of money and stuff. Ranting about how everyone is taking advantage of her. I need the light too much to try anymore. :(

It helps to know I am not alone. Thank you, again.

Bless you and Tony. And bless our broken parents.

Erin Davis said…
Tony is blessed with your friendship, and Yoyo Ma's cello speaks more than words...
Kathleen said…
Melissa: My heart goes out to you. Your art is stunning and it does so much good for those of us who adore it and think you are the best thing since fine art prints! Ordering up tons of sunlight for you, my dear!

Erin: What a lovely comment. I think the sound of a cello is the same sound of my heart.

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