02 April 2009

Time Present and Time Past

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.

For months, we've been saying "she's waiting for the baby". And in a moment of cosmic grace, my sister-in-law delivered the baby boy on Tuesday morning at 11:16, and my mother died Wednesday morning at about 12:30. She waited for the baby, and the baby had the wherewithal to arrive about 10 days ahead of his due date.

Tuesday night was a long night, my sister and I sitting at either side of our mother's bed. I read to her, the whole of The Four Quartets. We told her the baby's name; we showed her his picture. We listened to the Tschaikovsky Violin Concerto, to Glenn Gould playing The Goldberg Variations, and finally, to the beginning of Handel's Messiah, getting as far as the first chorus, the fugal "will be revealed".

And now begins and now ends - the circle of life, writ large.


julochka said...

what a beautiful thing to do...reading and playing that music for your mother at the end.

thinking of you...


Anonymous said...

Oh. {{you}}

After the kingfisher's wing
Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still
At the still point of the turning world.

though it all remains a mystery, this serenity is no small thing.

Blessings to you all. I hope you get to kiss that baby soon.

Anonymous said...

Those we love from the first
can’t be put aside or forgotten,
after they die they still must be cried
out of existence, tears must make
their erratic runs down the face,
over the fullnesses, into
the craters, confirming,
the absent will not be present,
ever again. Then the lost one
can fling itself outward, its million
moments of presence can scatter
through consciousness freely, like snow
collected overnight on a spruce bough
that in midmorning bursts
into glittering dust in the sunshine.

--Galway Kinnell

AnnetteK said...

Joy and sorrow for you and yours. xo

FreshHell said...

How very sad. Even though you know it's coming, it's always a shock. She got to meet the baby and then allowed herself to be released. Thinking about you. And the tasks ahead. XXOO Claudia

niobe said...

Thinking of you and your family -- especially Moky and the new baby.

MARY G said...

What a lovely way to say good-bye. I hope my daughters do much the same for me.
And welcome, little new life.
Thinking of you.

S said...

Maggie, Maggie. My heart just broke in two.

I'm so sorry, friend. Sending all kinds of love and concern -- and hope for strength.

What can I do?

Anjali said...

I write with tears. I'm so, so sorry.

She She said...

A blessing and a blessing, and so sad at the same time. Thinking of you.

Elan Morgan said...

It's amazing how life can toss in so much joy with so much sorrow. Be well.

Karen MEG said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, but what a wonderful music you shared with your mother, just lovely.

I lost my Dad two months ago. I'm hoping the healing starts soon.

Hugs to you...

Aunt Becky said...

I have goosebumps, M. I'm so sorry for your loss and so ecstatic for the arrival of the baby.

Please accept my joy and sorrow.

painted maypole said...

it's amazing how people wait. Amazing.

It sounds like a good ending, all and all.

now begin

RuthWells said...

Hugs and tears.

Mayberry said...

Oh, M., what a long strange trip.

Wishing her, and you, and all your loved ones peace and solace.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. Joy (for the new baby) and Sorrow intertwined. As profound as it gets. Sending hugs.

Janet said...

It's good you were with her at the end. Please accept my sympathy on the passing of your Mom and congratulations on the birth of your niece. I'm thinking of you...

Marty, a.k.a. canape said...

I know that the first thing I should do is offer my condolences and sympathy - and I do. I am so sorry for your loss. And then offer the congratulations that comes with the joy of a new baby.

But I have to also say that this is one of the most beautiful posts I have read. Your words are amazing. They show strength, beauty, love, understanding, sorrow - all at the same time.

I hope that you find peace in your mother's passing and have lots of time to snuggle with your new niece.

kate said...

So sorry for your loss. Thinking of you...

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Oh Maggie. Oh, sigh. Wishing you peace and solace.

meno said...

Wow, that's chilling, and beautiful.

Welcome to the new baby, and goodbye to your mother. They both know love.

Janet said...

Sending much love. xo

kathy a. said...

((( magpie ))) thinking of all of you.

this is a lovely post, filled to overflowing. i am glad you and your sister helped your mom with grace and love and music and talking and love.

ConverseMomma said...

I have no words for this. I hate to say the post was beautiful when it speaks of the pain of loss. But, it, you, beautiful.

I'm sorry. I bet your mother is quite proud of you.

Pgoodness said...

So sorry for your loss.

Mad said...

Oh hon, I am thinking of you. xo

Unknown said...

What a beautiful way to say goodbye.

Phantom Scribbler said...


Life in Eden said...

I am so touched by your special relationship with Moky.

Thinking of you, your sister, your new nephew and family. Peace, sadness and joy all at once indeed. Perhaps a good recipe.

Mental P Mama said...

And I am holding you all tight in my thoughts.

Furrow said...

What exquisite symmetry. My heart breaks for you and my thoughts hug you tight.

Gwen said...

The right words all seem taken. Or don't exist at all.

Wishing you and your family peace now, amidst the thunder.

Beck said...

I'm very, very sorry, Maggie.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm so deeply sorry for your loss, M. Very sorry. Take care.

Libby said...

what a lovely, lovely gift you and your sister gave your mother. And how wonderful to be welcoming the new baby just now; bittersweet but beautiful.

my thoughts are with you.

CecilyK said...

So sorry, sweetie. I wish you peace.

Woman in a Window said...

wow. So much in one day, coming and going, arriving and passing, and you as beautiful as ever. Sorry for your loss
Happy for your arrival

Carol said...

I'm so sorry. My best friend from childhood died yesterday and I haven't been able to blog about it yet, other than a Smilebox tribute -- but I will.

You last days with your mother remind me of my last days with mine, almost 5 years ago, which I journaled. If you find comfort in knowing that you're not alone, you can read about it here: http://northwestladybug.blogspot.com/2007/03/journaling-love-and-death.html

Hugs to you and yours.


Rima said...

I'm so sorry. I hope that you can start healing soon, in all the ways that are necessary. Peace to you and yours . . .

Bron said...

I'm so sorry, Maggie. And so sad. I will miss her very much. It's very touching to read about how she passed; I keep coming back and rereading it. Thank you for sharing this...it's beautiful.

susan said...

I know your memories and your family rituals will be a blessing--the wondrousness of family love shines through in all your writing about your mother. Much love to all of you at this hard time.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm sorry for your loss--but what a wonderful goodbye you arranged for your mother. And congratulations on the new baby in the family.

nonlineargirl said...

I am sorry for your loss, though I know it has been a long time in coming. Thinking of you.

ozma said...

So amazing that baby was born early. I'm so sorry your mother is not with you now. I am so glad the baby had that wherwithal.

I went to a memorial service and they read from the woman's diary as part of the service. The diary entry was about her mother dying. And she asked the same question you asked below, almost with the very same words. It's a question we ask about those we love the most, such a loving question in wanting to fully be with the person. Maybe it cannot be answered but that reaching out of consciousness to the other person is still meaningful.

I can tell you loved your mother very much. I know we (almost) all love our mothers but there's just something in all you have done for her and what you have written where your love comes across and it's beautiful, sad, courageous. I'm sorry she was not here with you longer. She was very fortunate to have you as her daughter.

I will be thinking of you.

Angeline said...

No words can ease the pain...
*Bear Hugs*

Robbin said...

Peace be with you in this time of joy and sorrow.

Anonymous said...

A simple thing offered in language that allays the thirst in Eliot's potent cerebral meditation on our presence in and out of time:


A rumpled sheet
Of brown paper
About the length

And apparent bulk
Of a man was
Rolling with the

Wind slowly over
And over in
The street as

A car drove down
Upon it and
Crushed it to

The ground. Unlike
A man it rose
Again rolling

With the wind over
And over to be as
It was before.

-- William Carlos Williams

Cold Spaghetti said...

I am touched by your seeming so calm, thoughtful, and reflective through all of this -- and feel that I have learned a great lesson watching you move through these incredible challenges and changes. You make me feel a little more prepared for a future that frightens me.

I am glad that you have your sister nearby to be there with you.

Desgracia compartida, menos sentida.

Tina said...

I am so sorry and yet so happy for your family that there is new joy as well. It's as if your mother wanted to make certain you had something to celebrate to take some of the sting out of losing her. Sending a hug...

Unknown said...

I was Dot's neighbor and friend for 5 lovely years on Reid Avenue. As a mother of three, I marveled at the creativity and wit she 'grew' in her own children. She had the keenest sense of what was really important of anyone I've ever known. I cherish the memories of Dot in her garden, with us at our fireplace, and clucking our tongues over the NY Times. It is very rare to find a friend such as I had in Dot- and an inspiration as a mother.

Much Love to you Maggie, Ginger

YourFireAnt said...

I'm blinded by tears at the moment. What a beautiful eulogy.

Thanks for putting it here for us.


Ree said...

Congratulations on the birth, condolences on your loss.


Aurelia said...

I'm so sorry this happened, and so glad she got to wait until the baby came.

Life is a funny old thing, isn't?

Take care of yourself. Be gentle to you and let yourself sit with this as long as you need.


dawn224 said...

you have the rest of your life to learn how to live this new life.

it was a year ago Sunday my dad died. He had the same look or non look in his eye that your mother had.

it was 18 years ago today that my grandpa died.

both seemed to choose their times. as best I can tell.

thinking of you this week. xoxoxoxo

susiej said...

I'm so sorry... and so happy for you at the same time. Cosmic Grace... so true.

Melissa said...

I am so sorry for your loss. And happy for your new blessing.

Bethany said...


I'm so sorry for your loss and am sending thoughts of love and peace your way.

alejna said...

Oh, Magpie. I'm so sorry. I only just saw this now. I am moved to tears by the sadness and the beauty.

I'll be thinking of you.

Kyddryn said...

My heartfelt condolonces, luv...and I rejoice at her peaceful passing from the never-ending, twilight now to the brilliant, whirling tomorrow.

Shade and Sweetwater,

Bette said...

I am so so sorry for your loss and thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

i am so sorry for your loss. i hope the joy of the new baby helps you to process the sorrow.

Very Mary said...

On Time -Kahlil Gibran

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.

Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life's timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today's memory and tomorrow is today's dream.
And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.

Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless?
And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds?
And is not time even as love is, undivided and spaceless?

But if in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons,
And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.

cactus petunia said...


Everything changes, the wheel
of the law turns without pause.
After the rain, good weather.
In the wink of an eye
The universe throws off
its muddy cloths.
For ten thousand miles
the landscape
Spreads out like
a beautiful brocade.
Gentle sunshine.
Light breezes. Smiling flowers,
Hang in the trees, amongst the
sparkling leaves,
All the birds sing at once.
Men and animals rise up reborn.
What could be more natural?
After sorrow comes happiness.

-Hoh Chi Minh-

What a beautiful gift your family has shared... death and life and above all, love- a complete and utter cosmic grace.

Sending hugs,

Stimey said...

I am so sorry. So very sorry.

Gwen said...

My deepest condolences go out to you and your family as you endure this great loss. It sounds like your mom passed in peace surrounded by loving faces, and with the knowledge that she has left an amazing legacy. I'm sure that baby arriving was a comfort to her. It must be so hard to deal with the grief of your mom's death and the elation and joy of a new baby at the same time. What an emotionally confusing situation. I'm thinking of you and hoping the memories of your mom give you great comfort as you grieve her.

Yo-yo Mama said...

My sympathies with you and your families.

becky said...

i'm so sorry to hear about your mom. my thoughts are with you & your family.

the queen said...

It gets better.

Kyla said...

Maggie, dear.

Thinking of you.

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother's passing. My thoughts are with you and your family.

But what a blessing with the baby's timing.

MsPrufrock said...

What a wonderful, honouring post you've written. Regretfully delayed, but I'm so sorry for your loss.

shrink on the couch said...

My condolences to you and your family. Your mother left this earth knowing she was loved, with music and her children by her side, a new grandbaby born. Hugs to you and all who will miss her.

Unknown said...

Your mother always made beauty. She made beauty out of dying with the beauties she made - you, your sister, and your brother in his crucial role. I'll never forget the graceful, tasteful beauty she made of Christmas when we were in college. I am sending a donation to Ballet Tech for them to make some beauty in her honor.
Love to you and yours,