picking thorns from trees,
like a blended sugarcane,
DMT, bonfires and peyote,
picking thorns from trees,
like a blended sugarcane,
DMT, bonfires and peyote,
My fingertips are pins and needles,
That tuck the hospital corners of your world,
and smooth the blankets of your mind,
It’s chaos, come to adjust the pillows ’round your heart,
Anxiety, come to massage your broken hands,
See my sparkling, salt encrusted crown of worry,
Ever thickening with hardness,
Never weakening with softness,
My fingertips are ten tiny doorways,
That seek you out, thus desperately
It’s a welcome party sporting shotguns,
It’s death, come to holler in the deafened ears,
Life, come to go away again,
See my hate-infused senses trying so hard to love,
Ever faltering with drunkenness,
Ever drinking in this emptiness.
My mom seemed a little “off” on Thanksgiving…maybe a little more tired than most other times I’d seen her recently. She’d been doing the withdrawal thing for some time leading up to that night…resigning herself to the death that has been chasing her since this time last year. Her spark had been low and she didn’t eat much on Turkey Day. That was the last time I saw my mom.
She must’ve had the stroke sometime after we all left her for the night…
Now, she just lays in her bed at the hospital, no signs of life besides her breathing. She sometimes responds to a question or comment, but mostly, she just lies there starring at a spot on the ceiling.
She has a low-grade fever every night, further damaging what brain cells that have managed to spare themselves from destruction throughout everything. The doctors say that the stroke was caused by her brain mets (her most recent PET scan showed several very small tumors in the frontal lobe above her eyes); they say that is the root cause of the lasting delirium and confusion also.
The full sentences that she manages to get out make no sense at all and range from topics like horse racing to stigmata (not a single topic being anything familiar or realistic). Sometime during the first week of this hospitalization, she blurted out pretty loudly and clearly
“I don’t wanna be part of this two-bit town!”
She also has a recurring theme of horses and sweeping out the garbage into a trash bag or sometimes into a pile, depending on who she is talking to. My Grandma Joey is “visiting her” regularly, despite the fact that my Grandma has been dead for almost 6 years now. My great grandma T left the reservation to come lay hands on my mom (an ominous act if ever there was one), but my mother didn’t recognize her and became agitated and uncomfortable with the presence of my Uncle Horse.
This goes on since the morning after Turkey Day…no change for better or worse although I can read between the lines that this is likely the wrap up for the bitter end of my mom’s fight with Cancer.
When you aren’t available, the world feels hollow.
I can only pray to nobody and nothing that you haven’t left me behind yet.
After all these years, no grip of mine is tighter than this desperate clinging to you.
Some of my longtime readers may recall how, throughout the lifetime of my blog, I’ve described the very deep-seated issues surrounding my long tattered relationship with my mama; things that stemmed from early childhood and only snowballed throughout my life until I was an adult and became estranged from her on my own terms for a time. Some might recall the ways in which I was openly struggling with the actual severing of ties between her and me due to her direct and quite unhealthy ties to my own daughter in the months prior to her diagnosis. The cruelly finite death sentence of late stage lung cancer that was handed down to her early last December quickly changed my life’s direction, and before I knew it, I became her main (if not her only) confidant, caretaker, nurse and administrative assistant/scheduler.
I can’t believe she has survived so long…at least not when compared to the very short time that was originally laid out in her prognosis, not to mention the very close brush with sudden death she initially undertook on the trail of her first chemo via febrile pneumonia and neutropenia that landed her in the ICU for several weeks. At that point, she was recovering from the dip in her white blood cells that had left her open like a sitting duck for the infections that literally almost killed her in the beginning of her “treatment”, and wanted to spend Christmas at my Aunt and Uncle’s house with our family. Given the circumstances, I was certain that last year would be her final holiday season alive, so I killed myself emotionally and financially to make her holiday as close to perfect as possible.
It was also during that period of time that her husband of 40 years, my long-time father figure, abandoned my mama completely in the face of her illness and impending death. She never went back home again, as her husband repeatedly failed to clear out the presence of my daughter and her disgusting friends from the house.
Some of my readers might recall how I had been struggling for several years with my parents over their unwavering loyalty (to the point of sheer stupidity) to my absolutely sociopathic and parasitic offspring – and the undeniable affect that such loyalties would inevitably leave in their proverbial laps. It only got worse as time went by; and as soon as my mom was out of the house, it went to Hell in a hand-basket. They began getting notices from the landlord within weeks, my daughter having gotten a puppy that destroyed the carpets and some of the walls and woodwork. In the passage of time between then and now, my former step father also managed to lose his car, his savings, his healthcare coverage and anything else worth anything at all that he might have owned.
Two days ago, a 3 day notice to quit the premises was posted on the front door of the house that was once my mama’s home. For some reason, my former step father was surprised enough by this that he called my mom and told her, obviously upsetting her on many levels. She now also has been burdened.by the anxiety, disappointment, worry, and heartbreak attached to learning (being reminded of) of the reality that her entire estate of 50 years’ worth of the obsessively collected, pack-rat-esque, silverfish friendly belongings that she has bent over backward to hang onto throughout handfuls of relocations, burglarized storage units, rats and various destructive insect infestations, and 2 fires: is gone with a 3 day notice to quit the premises. I know this breaks her heart because I know how she is and I have come to accept and endear the wacky things that she holds closest to her heart, as indecipherable as most may be.
That house is full of my own history also, mine and my daughter’s…and any of the things that I would’ve wanted to have from my mama will be gone as well. I have not been surprised by this unfolding of the Living Hell that has come to define every direction of what I would’ve once called “my family”; I was writing letters on my mom’s behalf to her landlord almost a year ago, so it’s not like my former step father and daughter (who will soon be homeless and without much but the things each can carry somehow) can say they didn’t see this coming.
The entire situation, which has gotten so far out of control that it’s beyond repair or interference from any outside party, is beyond my ability to intellectually grasp on any level. I am ashamed of my former step father for his absolute lack of action in even keeping himself afloat in the face of my daughter’s shenanigans. He has not only allowed and enabled this nightmare to play out like it is – but he also dares to call my dying mother (who is separated from him for the very same lack of action) and heap the load onto her already broken back. I am so sad and miserable over all of it, as I am in no position to offer anything in terms of any kind of aid or guidance to such an obviously lost cause as the situation at my mom’s old house, I want no part of that noise at all.
I also feel very bitter toward my mama again for the shit she painted herself into this corner with; a notion not so foreign to my heart and mind…I just wish she would’ve listened to me in the first place about letting my daughter move into her home when she left the hospital with her tracheotomy a few years ago. Thinking back to that now in this very moment, my eyes are swollen with tears because I remember my mom’s staunch position on “seeing Boo through the removal of the trach and subsequent recovery”, no matter what I said about it. I was dumb-founded by her blind loyalty to someone who had burglarized her home and stolen her car. I have come to feel so embittered by and ashamed of Boo these days, I have no words for that element of things…besides bad ones.
In short, everything is as bad as ever…waiting for that other shoe to drop hard on my head and heart…working with an asshole who fucked with my emotions and made me hate him as a result – having to look at his weasel face every day, has been wearing on me…too distracted to touch myself, too disgusted to touch anyone else…working hard and earning shit…more disillusioned every day beginning with my commute to work at 7am.
“Watching your mother tortuously and slowly sink into the grips of death is equal to that of existing on a daily basis without being able to make anything at all better for someone who has always found a way to make things better for me.”
I know what you’re thinking…
You’re thinking dark things to yourself now…like:
how all of those people in your past, the ones you helped nurse through to recovery from breast cancer, colon cancer, even a brain tumor; they’ve all gotten well and forgotten about you, when you needed those kindly offered favors returned. Oh Mama, how well I perceive how you feel.
You’re thinking about all the years that you poured out of yourself into others who are long dead already; you’re thinking about how short your end of the stick turned out to be; you’re thinking that you’ve been conquered by the things that other people do or say…or don’t do or say; you think it’s time to resign and become this helpless refugee who can’t find the motivation in your brain to keep your body moving your bones.
I’m thinking about how strong your spirit is when I look down onto your drawn face and seek out any flicker of light within those sunken eyes; I’m thinking back onto my youngest recollections of you: a beautiful woman in a skirt and pantyhose, wrenching at a flat tire on the freeway shoulder – not giving a fuck. I’m thinking about how much you have gone through in your hard lifetime already, even before Cancer pirated your body and brain; before your partner abandoned you and you became homeless…and, when I think about these things, I can barely breathe. I’m thinking about how you have the right to decide when you’re too tired to fight this bullshit life any longer, to “throw in the towel” as you said this morning to my nodding head and tear-streaked face. I’m thinking about so many things that make me feel as if I’m being strong-armed by some invisible being, robbed and stripped of my medals and badges.
You’re thinking it’s time to go; I’m thinking how much I hate the fact that I understand how you feel, completely.
Mama, you are not helpless, you could never be that; you’re not built that way…but you can be tired; you can be forlorn; just don’t be gone too soon.
…For now, at least.
And, I will not squawk at a single thing about her mental return, no matter it’s duration. Gods, it is just so fucking good to see my REAL mom again, after the last few weeks of her degenerative Living Hell. I honestly believed that I would never get to talk with her all about the traumatic events that have led us here; I was sure we’d never be able to sit and sift through the details that ended with the horrid, 5-day-long brain seizure that she endured right under my nose; I was certain that I would never know why and how it all went to shit so fast for her after her diagnosis…I had prepared myself for the reality that my REAL mama died recently, and what I had in her place was the “New Mom”.
(Didn’t I say that there was definitely something besides depression, fatigue, side-effects of chemo or simply late stage cancer happening to my mama?)
The rest of her once: thick, long, widely admired, randomly touched by friends and strangers, alike “dirty dishwater blonde” hair had fallen out while she was in delirium; and she was not happy at all. A few fruit cups and an whole milk cappuccino later, she was directing me through her bureau to find her new t-shirt. It’s a shirt I bought her when her chemo started last month; though she didn’t find it amusing, much less wore it. She sported it tonight with her bald head and nose hose as I wheeled her around the grounds of the rehab center in the pouring rain, with the song ‘Whose Crying Now?’ by Journey (her all-time favorite band) playing in her lap. She was totally alert and full of her normal piss and vinegar tonight. I loved every minute of it. It was a gods damned good night.
Because of the collective whirlwind effect created by the sudden appearance of, and the subsequent hijacking of any former Life by this hideous reality, this thing known only as “my mama’s terminal cancer”:
It’s like I have slowly come to be caring for a total stranger; this person is nothing like my mama. My new mom is stoic and scowls at me for no reason; she snaps at me for offering to help her with things when she is struggling.
“I wish you would just get out of my face for a change!”
This was what she hissed at me on New Year’s Eve, when I showed up to surprise her with some sparkling cider and pizza. She said she was tired of seeing my face whenever she opened her eyes. I left well before midnight and cried the whole way home.
I must have read it somewhere in each and every piece on terminal cancer that I have pored over since her diagnosis…references to:
“The people you least expect to offer any kind of support to you during this chaotic time will surprise you while those you were certain you could depend on will be nowhere to be found…”
Since my mom’s admission to the ER and subsequently, the ICU and so on, I have been trying to ignore the nagging buzz in my inner ear surrounding my mom’s overall situation at home. I have been trying super hard NOT to judge my dad for letting her sink so low, without even noticing she had such a bad fever and was deathly ill until it was literally just an inarguable fact that she was in some serious trouble; and needed serious help. Like I wrote before, this had been the VERY FIRST DAY I left her alone all day – and look where she ended up before 8pm. Needless to say, I have some serious concerns about her well-being; given the fact that she was quite apparently not being cared for properly BEFORE her chemo dance with death to the tune of septic pneumonia; how can I expect that she will be adequately looked after NOW, being released from the hospital following a closely related (to the lack of care she received that day) near-death experience? Mom will be coming home with me for at least the next few days (I am both overwhelmed with joy and thoroughly daunted at the same time by this reality), through Christmas at least. I can’t bear the thought of sending her to her home and dropping her off to be overlooked and not taken care of during such a crucial time for her ongoing survival.
My dad has been such a dick throughout this whole thing…he has been shining my mom everyday – not showing up at the hospital to see her or never bringing her the stuff she asked for. Not answering his phone or calling back. Not showing up at the job that I’m totally winging in order to cover my mom’s standing commitments to her former clients to let bring me supplies or to help me meet a deadline. It’s been a fucking insane week for everyone, and apparently he has slept through most of. I understand that we all deal with grief differently, and he is probably really heartbroken and distraught. But the fact that he has allowed Boo back in full-time in my mom’s absence has things really fucked up between my parents again at present. And the creature I gave birth to, Boo, can’t just do the right thing, can she?
So, basically, my mom feels as if my dad has “chosen Boo over her” again…and he is just oblivious with his fucking head further up his ass every day, it seems…
I refuse to have any contact with my daughter; while my parents have allowed her to remain a constant presence in their home, despite her many violations against them in the face of their kindness. And now, this leaves us in quite the predicament, because I can’t go home with my mom to her house and take care of her when Boo is smoking meth in the next room. It’s fucking absurd, how my dad won’t open his fucking eyes and just kick my drug-addict hooker daughter the fuck out so that MY MOM CAN RECOVER FROM FUCKING PNEUMONIA IN HER OWN HOME. I am at a loss as to what to do about any of it…I just know I can’t possibly send my mom into that environment as it is now, and won’t even consider it. Gods damn it, she pulled through this recent crisis, and she should have a good Christmas without the worries associated with her living situation…it’s most likely her last one…how does my dad not give a fuck about that?
I had been dreaming of her the whole time I was asleep, I think. There were these hazy flashes of days long gone; in which she was healthy and full of life, never slowing down to breathe – never really having learned to make any time for herself, always talking until the minute she fell asleep. She was always one of the most unpredictable people in my life, good –bad – or otherwise. I was dreaming of how her incredibly long hair smelled when I was small, and would cling to her neck for the time she’d hold me, which was never long enough in my recollections. I was dreaming of being in total awe, watching her rub “cold cream” into the soft skin covering her sharp cheekbones in the wallpapered bathroom on Skylark Drive. The mint green soap dish I don’t think she ever cleaned once. I dreamed of her ever-present, and accurate, self-comparison to the Princess from the Princess and Pea. I even dreamed vividly and randomly of the vacuum running at 11pm when she was manic…which reminds the waking me of the total absence of any sound other than her snoring coming from her bedroom when she crashed and got depressed. But this morning, I was dreaming of her voice and her smile and her OCD quirks that I always knew I’d miss the instant they ceased. It was the second time I have slept in my own bed at home since whenever it was that she was taken by ambulance to ER with the fever, and I was actually sleeping (dreaming). Oddly, there was already some conscious piece of my mind that was begrudgingly aware of the fact that I would soon have to awaken, so there was some hazy and sleepy hesitancy and disgruntlement already present when my phone started ringing loudly in my ear and woke me from such things.
Let me say this:
Never, have I been yanked from snuggly sleep in the early morning hours by anyone, especially ringing me in my ear on the phone, with an even remotely positive response…until this morning.
The voice on the other end of the line was my Mama’s; not the fever ravaged, brain damaged Mama, either, but My Mama.
I’m stunned in total wakefulness…
It’s her voice; the words are spoken with so much gusto and her tone is so calm and genuine; it’s an instant comfort to my heart when I hear it. I honestly feel like it’s been a long time since Life has allowed things to feel as okay as they did during that moment for me…the Gods have given us a little more time together, maybe one last Christmas…maybe not – but she’s stepping down from ICU now and they’ve got most of her problems stabilized, but not all. She’s not out of the woods yet by any means, but she’s alive… and not pissed off about it. On the contrary, she’s starting to come back around to her normal state of mind and perceptive awareness; she has a good grasp on the severity of her condition. Her platelets are still very low, as well as her oxygen levels; but she ate real food today and got out of her bed briefly. She became exhausted by this exercise though, so I don’t think she’ll be doing that again yet. I just hope she continues to improve. Yesterday I was hoping that she would just remain stable. The day before that, I was hoping that they wouldn’t have to give her a blood transfusion or intubate her again. and two nights in row before that, I mean it when I say that I was hoping nothing more than that if the Gods took her then, that they wouldn’t make her suffer much more – but more often those nights, my energies were focused on simply maintaining Life in her dying body.
Several days ago, when she woke up with a start at random, when she began to come of her catatonic-esque state, she had lost all the time in between the present and the night she went to sleep (the day that I last saw her before the fever struck that welcomed pneumonia). She sat bolt upright and gasped at me through her face mask something like,
“It’s okay, don’t be sorry, it’s okay Honey, stop apologizing…”
She was staring into my eyes with a hollowed, searching gaze saying things like that. Later, when she was “awake” for a breathing treatment, she told me that she’d been sure I was kneeling at her bedside, begging her forgiveness; but, I hadn’t been. For a while, this bugged me after she fell back asleep until I realized that she was mentally still in the ER at the hospital the ambulance had dropped her off at initially. I did kneel beside her bed (more like a short table than a bed) there; when I first got there and saw her it was just my reflexive response, I didn’t even think about being in the way of the people trying to stabilize her or anything, I just felt so horrible that she was so sick so suddenly, I was so shocked by her condition, I was truly sorry at that moment. And I did tell her at her bedside that I was so sorry, I desperately begged her forgiveness and kissed her hand.
I quickly pulled myself together though, realizing that she needed me to be strong right then, not some blubbery child. It was just funny to me that she had heard me and understood the context of what I was saying and how I was feeling; this was during what had to have been the closest to death that she has ever been thus far in her time alive. She couldn’t see or move, she was in delirium; but she received my apologies and she felt my concern for her. That’s pretty amazing to me. She is getting better on her loss of days too, so her confusion is dissipating also. I’m not expecting anything from her, one day and night at a time is how the cookie crumbles this Christmas. Which isn’t good and isn’t bad; it just has to be like that.
“Don’t go out anywhere tomorrow…it’s supposed to rain enough to flood up in the mountains all day, a storm’s comin’ down tomorrow, put off whatever you gotta do until Friday, Hon; we’re planning to stay in and hole up for the day, ourselves.”
Those were the words my mama said to me (the “we” referring to my stepdad and her) as we parted ways on Wednesday afternoon. A storm came down, alright.
Yesterday was the very first day since my mom was diagnosed with cancer that I actually let her be the whole day, thinking she was snuggled in a blanket at home, watching reruns of Bonanza…I got the call at 8pm last night, mom was being taken via ambulance from her house to the hospital; she was unresponsive and burning up. My stepdad thought she was sleeping all day (he likely slept in the TV room in his recliner most of the day as well, as he has been exhausted in every way by everything just as much as any of us)…I don’t know exactly how it all went down but the summary is that by the time her found her essentially unresponsive and incoherent, her fever had likely already caused brain damage, at 104 degrees.
When I arrived at the hospital and saw her, I was overcome with so many different feelings of dread and guilt and disbelief and pity and mercy and various others, too. I have never seen my mama anywhere near so ill, so lost and childlike, scared…I don’t think I have ever seen my mom scared like that before, nor even imagined that she was capable of such fearfulness. My mama has a combative spirit; she is a Taurus; she is the spazz drummer of the band, she is strong-willed and hard-headed…I’ve seen her scrap in the street, I’ve seen her drunk and high, I have seen her in the grips of schizophrenic delusions and paranoia, I have seen her through each and every one of her 6 joint replacement surgeries (and the subsequent recoveries, more notably)…but last night…
It was as if I walked to into a nightmare straight from the warped perceptions of my childhood subconscious; she was so hot to the touch; at one point, she was trying to leave the bed over and over. Once she somewhat came around the first time, she was very angry and completely confused. She couldn’t focus her eyes but she never blinked either; she just stared at the ceiling with her arms crossed, shivering and mumbling things I couldn’t make out. Finally, they had to give her Haldol because she was becoming so out of control in her fever’s rage; eventually they got her to sleep and her fever went down. But the aftermath of that shit has a long life and she hasn’t been able to swim back to the surface like she would have under better circumstances i.e. without the fever’s toll on her brain and the presence of terminal cancer, to name a couple. Upon her transfer to her own hospital however, her BP dropped suddenly and they still haven’t gotten it up without heavy medication. Since her arrival to the ICU, it has been one issue after another with her body and its ability to fight this off, not to mention, her inability to understand what is happening and in turn, the anger and fearfulness. They aren’t sure of the level of damage her brain has endured during the fever and the effects of the drugs they have given he, everything is really touch and go still, she is not well though, she barely hanging in, just barely.
They are displaying some Doppler radar effect on a screen that details my mother’s body in infra-red 3-D; scrolling up and around and through the entire scan of her body, head to toe. What we are looking for is yellow, that’s the injected dye glowing somewhere it shouldn’t be…the yellow equals my mom’s cancer having the fucking nerve to glow.
Mom’s liver? Clear.
Mom’s kidneys? Clear.
Mom’s Spine? Clear
Mom’s Brain? Clear.
For today, at least, we saw very few yellow patches or spots, which was almost a relief until the scrolling stopped and began to pan from various angles on an area that just about matched the size and mass of my mom’s head – but it is in her chest. Not only is this hideously obese, cancerous mass of death invading my mom’s lungs and vessels, but get this: the fuckin thing has actually wrapped itself around her fucking heart; “like a claw”, as her oncologist so eloquently put it. She starts chemo and radiation tomorrow, simply to be able to get enough relief to breathe a little. She has declined so quickly in the past weeks, it’s crazy. It suddenly and instantaneously made sense to me, watching that thing pulse and glow and suck the very life from my mama’s heart and breaths, why she has been so exhausted for six months…why she has been shriveling away to skin and bones, why she spent weeks in a row one time, not long ago, without being able to keep A THING down…her cough…she coughs from her toes, so hard for so long, she can’t breathe, she’s been working full-time til just a few days ago…I took her remaining packs of cigarettes with me when I left her for the night tonight, she didn’t argue with me. She told me over dinner tonight that she feels like if she quit now and died in a week from now, it would be worth it in order to die a non-smoker. This was poignant as hell in the moment because my mama is never coming out of these woods alive, and we both know that. I will never smoke one around her again or even let her smell it on me…I feel closer to wanting to quit smoking than I can ever recall having been since I started when I was 13…
On a physical level, my mother has always been an exceptional specimen. Her physical strength has always been impressive to me (she used to move furniture “cross-country”), her stamina on the job is unmatched, she is a hard worker. Was a hard worker, she worked up until pretty much the day she literally couldn’t. I just want her to be able to get some air for a while, she suffers so and it’s tough – it exhausts her and has made her irritable most of the time anymore, understandably. She’s so frail…so thin and fragile and childlike; but she’s also still my mother beneath it all…which is a reality that is becoming more surreal by the day.
Well, I almost made it the entire day without falling apart at some point. I made it to around 11pm at least, before disintegrating into the blubbering, snot-nosed train-wreck I’ve been so often lately…it’s crazy.
For a while today, watching movies with my mama, doing her hair, listening to her snore while she dozed…I almost forgot at times, if you can believe that…and then, it’s like a forcefully painful chop to the throat when I realize something random like how she’ll most likely never see another decorated Christmas tree after this holiday. Or, the newfound inability to delete the hundreds of voicemails I’ve accumulated from her on my current phone, no matter how insignificant. I just want to breathe any Life I have into her; it’s so intense: these feelings that I harbor of protectiveness and defeat all wrapped into one big, ball of sheer grief-stricken idleness.
“Anticipatory Grief”, that’s the label they’ve given to what I am currently experiencing…
but it’s label makes no difference to me or anyone else, some fancy surname or amendment changes nothing about the bottomless depths of grief’s sadness.
I recall quite vividly, being thirteen years old and enduring the sudden and shocking reality check of having lost my primary (up to that point, more or less) parent to a massive heart attack that struck him dead instantaneously, thinking to myself things like,
I wish perhaps he could’ve had an illness or something instead of the instant death, selfishly, so that I might have had the time to make amends to him…
The amends I was referring to, were for the “tween-aged” shit-headedness that had reared its ugly head during the months leading up to my Dad’s death; a nose ring, big, rock-hard bangs that looked like some tidal wave in my hair, etc.
Anyway, I now can say with certainty that I would not have wanted that for him at all, in spite of the robbery that such a tragic and sudden death of a parent becomes to a young person, I am very grateful that he went quickly and without the suffering that my mom is looking at, and in many ways is already undertaking. When my grandma died, it tolled terribly on my mother, and still does to date – she has never been the same as she was prior to my grandma’s passing. She stopped eating, sleeping, keeping a healthy schedule for herself quickly and completely became a thing of her past, she even wore my grandma’s old lady clothes around as do some widows and widowers. She was altered deeply by the loss of her mother for good. I remember one time as we sat together and she described her sorrow to me, she turned to me at one point and said something along the lines of,
“With my Mom being dead, sometimes, I wish I was dead, too…”
It had been that very statement that opened my eyes to the depths of grief and loss she was experiencing. She had lost the remaining twinkle from her eyes, she felt like the world was an uglier, less satisfying place that matched her dwindling existence. Lately, as in like the past six months or so, she has been wrapping up her loose ends to the best of her increasingly limited ability; she has said things to me that represented goodbyes in variously subtle ways; she makes comments about how she probably doesn’t have that much longer left on this Earth, or how she has had a good run. I never took her too seriously, I couldn’t. I couldn’t even begin to entertain such an idea as losing her so soon…I feel like I just got her and have been getting my mom, little by little. As the cards fall, in reality, I have, since those recent sugar-coated conversations with my “healthy mom”, been forced to swallow her mortality whole.
I have been with her every possible moment since we found out she is dying. She is much further along than the original consult suggested; we will find out exactly how much worse it is on Wednesday. She is resigned, I can tell. She actually apologized to me “for dying like this”, which was a heartbreakingly raw moment between us as well. She is in shock, I think, to be honest. She has a warrior’s game face and the pain thresh-hold of an elephant on peyote. But, she has to be in shock…anyone would be – whether she had a notion or not. She sees the child in my face these past few days as we interact, she says. She says she recognizes the terror and helplessness there when I don’t know she’s watching me, but she is.
She called me up the other night (Friday or Saturday – my days are all running together) to say,
“I don’t want you to mourn me like I mourned my mom, Honey…I know it sounds weird, but, I think that’s when I started to die, really; of sadness and loss…I don’t want that for you, babe…I don’t want that at all. I want for you to try and find a way to accept this and be at peace with this, somehow, will you do that for me?…Will you try?”
I wasn’t prepared for this to be so painful and life-darkening at all.