Apr 21, 2010

Why I Haven't I?

As today marks six months since the loss of my mother, I've been considering why I haven't done a couple things yet.

First, I never wrote about.  I wrote some about her needing to be in a better place (here), I posted her obituary which I guess I technically wrote (here) and I wrote about struggling a few days after her funeral (here) but I never wrote about the last days or moments.  And I'm not sure why I've put it off so long.  I know I don't HAVE to write about it.  But I NEED to.  But it's hard!  It's hard to reread the posts above.  It's hard to relive those moments but I need to write for me, for my kids (someday) and for someone who is or will go through the same thing and be able to know they are not alone.
So here goes nothing....
I'll start with the back story for those who may not know, my mom was originally diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in high school.  She initially kept this from me and sent me on a vacation with my grandma as her initial surgery was preformed.   But then she still had to have chemo and radiation.  The chemo wasn't that bad for her.  Or at least she didn't let on that it was.  But because she had pretty extensive radiation it caused some uncomfortable side effects.  At one point it left her unable to lift her arms and she came to me to help her wash her hair.  I was more than happy to do it, but for her it was a completely embarrassing moment for her.  She eventually had lymph nodes removed which left more complications and ending her up in the hospital that Thanksgiving.  I THOUGHT those were hard times!
When my older boys were really little (1 and just a couple months old) she spent several months fighting what she thought was a cold.  Just after participating in our first Relay For Life, the Dr finally sent her for a chest x-ray that revealed fluid around her lungs.  They biopsied the fluid and found cancer cells.  This time around a stronger chemo was needed.  She lost her hair and was VERY sick and VERY weak.  But on the other side, she was given a cancer free declaration.
Then we endured loosing my Grandma to brain cancer less than two years later and less than six months later, my mom learned that her cancer was back.  Initially she did not want to go through it all again and refused treatment.  She quickly relented and agreed to try a hormone treatment which promised little side effects but it also offered little change for her.  She then went on to try a pill form of chemo which did nothing.  By this point I'd told her I was expecting again.  She agreed to try more aggressive chemo treatments.  She tried several different combinations of chemo looking for one that would work for her this time.  As she became weaker and weaker, we all began to question whether continuing to fight was the right choice.  Finally, her Dr agreed that it was time to refocus on making her remaining time as comfortable as possible.  She still refused to allow anyone to do much for her.  At times even confessing that she'd vacuumed even though she'd become dependent on a walker to safely get around.  As the weeks went on, she continued to get weaker but fought hard to keep her independence.  She fought any intervention such as oxygen etc as long as she possibly could.  One weekend she'd become clearly distant and confused and we called her closest friends to come see her.  She spent the next what seemed like months but was really less than one refusing food or drinks and slowly fading from us.  One day we could clearly tell she wasn't able to see us.  But she would still sometimes respond to our questions.  After a couple more days she was no longer able to respond to us verbally but she's pucker up when we asked for  kiss or squeeze us when we'd hug her.  At one point during all this she'd become too confused and disoriented for her to safely stay at home.  It was a HEARTBREAKING decision to make but one that was undeniable.  As she spent her last days at a wonderful hospice care center, we'd go each day to be with her.  One Tuesday night (10/20) the end felt particularly close and I found it very hard to leave her.  But after much deliberation, I left, leaving my (step)Dad there for the evening, with the plan that I would return fresh in the morning allowing him to get out for a bit.  The next morning, I ran into some traffic issues and took WAY longer than usual to get there.  When I got there, I learned she'd had a particularly difficult night.  I went to her and said good morning and kissed her.  But then the nurse came in and needed to tend to her. So we went downstairs and got a soda and stepped outside.  But after just a few seconds outside I heard a weird noise.  It sounded like knocking.  Then I heard it again, and looked up.  There just a few floors above us was the window to mom's room and there looking down was the nurse.  She flagged us to come right back.  When we walked back into the room she told us 'its just about time.' And then she was gone.  She was released from her pain and suffering.  We sat with her for a good while before beginning to make phone calls and letting our family know.  It's easy to say that it's for the best because we'd watched her suffer for so long and I wouldn't have wished my worst enemy, let alone my best friend and mother to go through a single day of what she endured.  But it is immensely harder to live it.  To fully comprehend never being able to hear their voice, see their smile or feel their hug again is much much more difficult!

So there is it.  It feels like a bit of a weight off to get that out onto "paper."

Two, I have not gone back to the cemetery.  I feel very guilty for this but I simply have not been ready.  The cemetery was the hardest part of the whole process for me.  I handled months of watching my mom slowing being taken from me piece by piece.  I stood strong as she became more and more dependent for even the simplest of needs.  I even held it together to speak at her funeral service.  But when it was time to walk away from "her" that day at the cemetery, it all became much to real.  All the tears I'd held back overflowed at that moment.  I cried and cried and couldn't find the strength to walk away from her casket.  So I am afraid of going back there.  But it's time.  I'm thinking Mother's Day will be the day but we'll see.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing something so difficult. I pray that you feel God's presence as you go through this difficult time.


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