I believe in the power of the “eye”. As several of my students can report, the eye refers to my mother, and her ever watchful presence in my life. I believe, despite her recent death, that my mother is as much a part of my life as ever.
This time last year my mother was still alive. Her life was full of experiences with her grandchildren, frustrations with her dog, and missing her long distance children. She was looking forward to a new grandson (to be named after my father). She was hating the bitter cold of winter. She was stressing over money. Life was normal. Life was predictable. At times, for her, life was empty and lonely.
Now, a year later I am left with some harsh memories. On the last day of her life, my mother laid in her hospital bed suffocating in pneumonia, her heart too weak to pump. At one point in the afternoon her left eye opened. I don’t know if was from reflex, but at that point she was so pumped with morphine and other drugs that her body was no longer hers to control. I remember my older sister stroking her forehead and saying, “I know you’re here mom. It’s okay. We’re here, too.” I was disturbed by the eye. I wanted it closed. It scared me. If what my sister said was true, mom was aware. She knew she was slipping away. I don’t want to think of the unrest that must have caused in her.
Now, months later I share my grief and fears and memories with my students as we write together and explore themes in literature. Several of them have experienced the acute pain of losing a parent or a grandparent. They know. For some reason one day I felt it was relevant to discuss the “eye”- or “evil eye” as they like to think of it. Now when something quirky or unexpected happens (like a paper-mache angel that stands in the corner of my room inexplicably falls over) Meredith (a student) blames it on my mom. I laugh. Maybe so. But there is something to the eye thing.
My mother’s eye is on me. I believe this whole-heartedly. When she was on this earth I took for granted her presence. I didn’t call or visit as often as I should have. I got angry at her inability to quit smoking, the thing I thought would ultimately kill her. I listened with a half an ear to her “issues”. Now that she is gone, missing her causes a physical pain. Perhaps that’s why I joke about the eye. It helps ease the pain. Somehow telling that story makes her real and here again. She is watching, approving or disapproving of my words or actions. She is aware. And so am I. Of her. I believe in the power of her watchful eye.