So if anyone noticed, I haven’t blogged in a while. Life kind of imploded after my last trail-running-related blog entry. I’m going to leave out tons and tons of details, and will deliver the main points as quickly as I can.
My mom went to the ER late on January 19 after she became very, very weak and had crazy-high blood pressure. After a few hours there, she was admitted to the hospital and scheduled for a spinal tap. She began to go downhill quickly. We were told on Monday that she had hours left, maaaaaybe days. We called family and friends and my pastor. It was an awful, awful day. Mom had slipped into some sort of state and we hadn’t said our goodbyes. We were terrified she would die without one more conscious moment with us.
She woke up late on Tuesday but couldn’t really communicate with us. It was confirmed that she had carcinomatous meningitis, and she had no hope of recovery. The news was crushing. We were almost certain that she couldn’t see anything based on her reactions to us. She used her hands to identify things and people, much like someone does when they are blind. She clearly communicated to me that she knew who I was and she wanted me to stay. (I had my jacket on because I was cold and after feeling my hand, she tried yanking it off by the cuff. Once I took it off and she felt it was gone, she relaxed.)
She woke up at about 4:45am on Wednesday morning and it was obvious that she could see and hear us. She could shake her head a bit and respond in other ways. She cried with us as we played her favorite songs. We had a really beautiful hour with her before she grew tired and went to sleep. We thought that might be all we got with her, and we cherished it.
(By this point, Mom was in in-patient hospice. I simply cannot say enough about how wonderful this experience was. The nurses at the hospital were amazing.) Later that day she was able to say a couple of words. We were astonished. Over the next few days, despite being off of IV fluids and refusing food, she began to talk more and more. Sometimes she was in the present, other times she was in the past. She would ask me if it was time to go to school, but then ask for my son to come visit. She would ask for her dad (who passed 8 months ago), and then ask if my brother was at work (which he was at the time). The saddest thing was that she didn’t know she had cancer and my dad had to keep telling her. Every time I watched him do it, it broke my heart. Her brain clearly wasn’t processing things correctly anymore. But, man, did she know who my dad was. She always knew.
For over a week, my dad, brother and I took turns sleeping on this luxurious chair so that one of us was always by her side. She grew anxious if Dad wasn’t around, so he was nearly always there.
On January 28 we moved Mom to a local hospice house. It is a unique facility; it’s an old home that was purchased by the local hospice residence. It’s beautiful, warm and inviting, and close by. It was only 2 miles from my house, so I could be there at the drop of a hat. I stayed there from Wednesday through Saturday, so proximity really didn’t end up being that beneficial!
Once Mom was at the hospice house, though, her condition rapidly declined. Watching it was very, very, very hard. I didn’t want to see her like that, but got incredibly anxious if I wasn’t with her. Leaving my son and husband was hard, but it was one of those things I just had to do.
The last couple of days were really hard. I slept an hour Thursday night, and took 3 1-hour naps on Friday night. But whatever. It’s just sleep. I knew her time was coming to an end; it was incredibly obvious. In the middle of the night I was praying to God that He would end her suffering, but as soon as she would stop breathing, I would (internally) freak out. The 10, 15, 20 seconds it took for the next breath to come felt like an eternity.
I finally decided on Saturday that I would leave for the night. I had a feeling that she didn’t want me with her when she passed. She hadn’t wanted my brother and me around much when she was really, really sick; she just didn’t want us to see that. It was hard for me to accept that for a while, but in her death, I gained some understanding of that. It’s rough to see someone you love suffer. (But it’s really, really rough to be that person being forced to sit on the outside.) I gave her a big hug and a kiss and told her I’d see her “later”.
She died 90 minutes later.
Despite knowing that her death was imminent, my world still shattered. My husband and I were out having a beer when we got the news, and I became “that crying girl”. I was sobbing my eyes out in the corner of the bar as S paid the t
ab. People probably thought he broke up with me or something. I could have cared less. I probably wiped snot on my sleeve at that point – I have no idea. I just wanted my mommy.
The week that followed was hard, but since we had a lot of time with her (well, two weeks), the emotions weren’t as unpredictable as they might have been. I had already done some grieving when I sat with her, so a lot of tears were already shed. It still sucked. Hard.