Thursday, April 19, 2012

tHERsDay: Sitting Vigil

During the visit to my grandmother's old farm house, 
a black barn cat sat with CB for an hour under a hundred year old tree, 
transfixed  by her fancy bead twirling,  
playfully batting at them from time to time.
Though CB occasionally shoved him away,
the cat remained.
Sitting vigil.

As CB's seizure activity spikes again I find myself in the familiar, helpless position of bearing witness. Clocking the seconds as she thrashes about. 
In the seizure's aftermath, all I can do is sit quietly on her bedroom floor 
with the stillness of a praying mantis mimicking a leaf.    

This period of sitting and watching 
until I'm certain she is asleep and will not lapse into another seizure 
has always felt so passive to me.  
Due to her tendency to flip into a violent, post-ictal psychosis 
I refrain from even touching her or speaking following a seizure. 
I simply sit vigil.

A vigil, I discovered, is a period of intentional wakefulness
a block of time set aside for contemplation and watchfulness.  
"Vigil" is derived from the Middle English vigile
which means "devotional watching."  
The Latin vigil, translates as "awake."  

It brought me comfort to know that the feeling of helplessness and passivity 
when surrounded by darkness, listening for 
the restoration of normal breathing patterns in my little girl, 
is actually far from a helpless act.  

There are many different types of vigils: 
the religious 
a form of protest
respect for the deceased or
a way to raise community awareness.
Whatever the type, it is a body and soul in action
not at rest.

Like the mountain pose in yoga, 
even in a simple, quiet stance
all the senses of the body are engaged.

A mother's vigil is nothing like sitting idly by. 

Every cell in her body 


Elizabeth said...

I like to think of you and me, sitting vigil together across the country from one another with our girls, with each other despite those miles between us.

Thank you for this beautiful post.

kario said...

First of all, I love the cat that stayed near her and was keeping vigil over the beads. Cats have an amazing sense of being in the moment and narrowing things down to what is important right now.

Second, I cannot even imagine what it is like to keep watch over your child under such circumstances, but that "mama bear" focus feels so elemental, so basic, so centrally important. I love how you broke it down.

Sending love and light.

Sunday said...

Your posts are always so hauntingly beautiful...even when the subject is scary.

Sending hugs and love to you, my friend.

Also, I really REALLY would love you to write a guest post for me. Hell, a reprint of this post would be amazing.

Alicia (Dr. Mom) said...

I love you guys!!!!! thank you for the kindness :)

rhemashope said...


alicia, the next time you are sitting vigil... in the quiet, will you remember that you are not alone? there are other mamas like me who *know* and sit with you.

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