Ann Keiffer

The Lighthouse

In December my 86-year-old mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. It was a crisis event in the family with the circle drawn close. Our mother told us she was not afraid of dying, only a prolonged, exhausted, helpless, sick, agonizing, bed-ridden death. But she said she also did not feel ready to leave us, her children, yet. And so, our mother elected to have both targeted chemo and the drop-the-bomb kind, knowing that at any juncture she could call a halt to either or both. My mother is proving to be an exceptional chemo patient, with no nausea, body aches or fatigue. Her prognosis seems excellent. Nonetheless, her diagnosis has caused us all to confront what is inevitable: Someday we are going to lose our extraordinary mother. I am exploring the immensity of that reality in images, poems and dreams.

My mother is going to the lighthouse.
The hour of her pilgrimage will come…
she will clasp the hand rail,
turn her face to the tower,
and set her foot on the first
step of the lighthouse stairs.
She will not look back,
as she climbs to the lantern room,
circling higher, higher
on the spiral stairs.

And each step she takes,
she will be further from us,
until finally she will be
lost from our view.
Family, standing together
at the foot of the stairs,
our mother gone,
what we will have left
is each other…and the
lives our mother gave us.

Her own life—
of genuineness,
upright character,
goodwill, love,
work and wit,
food for our bodies,
food for our souls—

and our very lives,
birthed from her womb.

When we can see
our mother no more,
we will know her
pilgrimage is complete.
She will have entered
into the lantern room,
the shining place of
the Lamp of Lamps,
the Light of All Lights.

Ann Keiffer
January, 2011

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons License Eustaquio Santimano


About Ann

I am interested in the strange beauty of brokenness, in transforming possibility in difficult times, in how we heal even when we can’t get better, in the alchemy of surrender, in the interplay of light and shadow, in the bounty of everyday wonders, in the gift of laughter…and writing about it, all and everything.

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