Monday, October 18, 2010 Circle of Life When I teach savasana or copse pose in class I always remind practitioners to follow with fetal position and that getting up is re-birth. Our yoga practice in itself can be representative of the circle of life.
I have blogged about my grandmother before so you may know that she has Alzheimer's. Well she is also 87 and has been having strokes over the last month or so. Additionally we suspect that she has also had a heart attack. Since she does have advanced Alzheimer's and is not in great health there is a do not recessitate order should she be close to death. When that point comes it will be more about keeping her comfortable and less about keeping her alive.
I am watching my grandmother become almost as dependent as my own children where when they were babies. If my grandfather could see her now it would break his heart. She was a woman who was married to a military man and that means that she was also married to the military and the way of life. She raised her children on various army bases across the country, while her husband was either fighting a war in Korea or on military training missions God knows where. She raised her five children in strange cities, practically a single parent.
When my mother became pregnant with me at the age of 17 my grandmother and grandfather stepped up. They allowed my mother and me to live with them and my grandmother became my caregiver. In essence my second mother. As a child I had two mothers and referred to both of them as mommy. How lucky was I to have two women to live with and care for me and support me. This relationship continued my entire life.
Now as the eldest of my two mother's slips away first with Alzheimer's and now with her strokes I am not sure what to think. I am very much at peace with the fact that she is going to die soon. I have told her over and over how much I love her. Even now when she is not entirely sure who I am, I still tell her I love her. Now it is my turn to care for her and keep her comfortable. I visit as much as I can and I bring my children to see their grand-nan. She lights up for them sometimes and other times she just sits and stares, I am sure wondering who these children are?
When we look at ahimsa or non-harming, it is right to allow someone to suffer in order to die naturally? However ending a life would not be practicing asteya or non-stealing as it is not for humans to decide when someone should go. We all have something to fulfill on this earth. I am not sure how to practice non-attachment with someone you love so much. I am ready to let her go, but does this mean I am not attached? How do we practice saucha - my thoughts about death and dying are not pure. I like to believe that we all have our time but is it right to allow people to suffer in order to die naturally? I look at just some of the yamas and niyamas and I am conflicted.
I have peace in knowing that when she lies down for her final savasana she too will be at peace. Perhaps this is the Samadhi or the union with bliss that we all look for. Can we find this in the life we live or is it only during our final relaxation that this occurs? I am sure that in these questions I ask nothing new.
I wish, that as a teacher I could guide my grandmother as I guide so many students. To tell her that she can lie down and relax, close her eyes. Tell her that she is safe and that everything is going to be all right. Tell her that she can accept what ever is coming and remind her to let go... her Samadhi is waiting...
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.