Strange viewpoint from a 50something

Posts tagged ‘death’

If only she could answer…

Hello?

Hi ya Ma,

Hi Sweetie,

I miss you! How is it there?

It’s wonderful! I’m with your Dad, he looks so good!! =]

You doing ok?

Oh yes! I’m off the oxygen and I can breathe again! I’ve even lost some weight!

That’s great Ma..

Dad and I have been doing a lot of dancing since I’ve been here…

I’m so happy for you.. you got a few minutes to talk?

 

 

3 years since I’ve heard her voice. I’ve dialed her number countless times. As it rings, I imagine words that will be said. All the things I want to tell her, those small victories to have her cheer about.. all the hurts I want to cry to her about.. all the love I felt no matter what I did or said.. all those encouraging words to lead me in the right direction..

If only she could answer..

 

 

 

 

 

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Is that the phone ringing?

Tomorrow is my birthday. And she is not going to call and sing to me.

Since the day I was born, she sang the Happy Birthday song. First, in my ear as a baby, next, over cake and candles as I grew older and later it was by phone. Last year was the first time she couldn’t make it through the whole song…. her ragged breathing made it so difficult for her. At the time, she apologized, and we laughed about it. In that moment, it didn’t occur to me that it would be the last time.

There is something about birthdays that only a Mom can understand. When you give birth to a child… that day is forever etched into your soul. That one day where you have that super strong connection to one person. The one day, and she never missed it, my ears would hear her sweet voice singing. For 55 years, she never missed it.

Tomorrow is my birthday. And the most awful year of my life comes to an end. I had no idea that on that day, one year ago tomorrow, when she couldn’t finish the Birthday song… that she had only a couple months left to live. Because of her death, I find that I just spin now…. in no particular direction. Not necessarily out of control, but with little purpose. So many aspects of my life have changed. I lost her. My career took a hit and changed dramatically. My relationship took a serious hit and I still feel the sting of that. I’ve had very little joy. I tried many times to write for this blog but I just couldn’t find anything upbeat enough to share. I have wallowed in this year of firsts… all revolving around the absence of my Mom. First Christmas, first Mother’s Day (by far, the hardest one… until tomorrow), first time returning to St. Louis to find that “going home” isn’t the same. Many things happened to me, a few good but mostly bad things. I am glad it’s almost over…. this awful year of firsts.

Tomorrow I begin again, another year on my own road. Yes, I am aware that I must continue without her… but I don’t much like it. I’ve had many precious people die in my lifetime, as we all do, but there is always the absence of that one important person that will change your destiny. I lost my Dad suddenly when I was 28, it was such a blow to my family. And because I was young and all caught up raising my own child, I didn’t get the enormity of it. Since his death, I’ve lost many… all my grandparents, some aunts, some uncles, a few friends… and even a grandchild. But none of those losses prepared me for the loss of my Mom. I still have little girl issues, I still stomp around and whine about how unfair it is that she is gone. My little girl heart is broken and will never be the same.

Tomorrow is my birthday. I guess I will be sing to myself…..

Home now is just a house.

 

Very low key, this drive to St Louis was. I sat in my car outside her house a few minutes.. a little hestitant to go in. I might have sat there longer but little brother was inside waiting for me to arrive. He must have heard me pull up because he was coming out to meet me as I got out of my car. The sadness and relief felt by us both as we stood there and hugged.
After a couple hours of talking and crying and laughing, he asked if I was sure I was ok to stay here – you know – by myself. And I was. I hadn’t felt uncomfortable being in the house… except looking at the empty bed sitting in the dining room. Stripped and lowered, it was now just a piece of equipment. The first thing on my list is to call and have all of this stuff picked up. I want to get the dining room table back in there, so it’s more home than ‘Mom’s last stand’.
I went to bed in a very, very quiet house. Her air machines were noisy but once you were used to the sound it became soothing. So there I layed… in the quiet… going crazy!! I turned the television on and went right to sleep.

The guy came early, picked up the bed and things the following day. Now that the table and chairs are back in their spots, things ‘feel’ almost normal. This has been home for 35 years.. but there remains a vacancy. Her presence is missing. Strange, but when she was in the hospital and we came into this house, she was here, you could feel her. Walking around today I still feel little wiffs of her but there is such an emptiness now. ugh.
Tomorrow will be even stranger as Kenny and I will go speak to someone about her arrangements. She was very clear about what she wanted done and we are determined to honor all that she asked.
I’ve mostly been my adult self the last few days. Whenever the little girl in me shows herself that’s when her death is the hardest. The child in me cries. The child in me doesn’t want to let go… Momma…

When there’s a way.. the will isn’t far behind,,

I am a few days away from returning to St Louis. My Mom has found a new wave of life to ride. So much more restricted, but she lives on. In talking to both my siblings, I’ve learned that she is even being left alone for a couple hours at a time!! I know my Mom has been insisting on this… to go from ~happy she lives by herself to having one of us there 24/7~ I can only guess that she is rejoicing in the quiet! I’ve spoken to her on the phone and when you’re not there, you picture in your mind what you want to see. So in my mind, she is her old -I-can-do-it-myself- Mom. In reality though, she is doing well, she’s found a new routine for her day, with very little movement involved. Her voice sounded tired this last chat I had with her… but her scrappy attitude is still intact!!

I am back in the state of worry I was in when I came home a couple weeks ago. The situation has not changed. It’s still the same reasoning. I am there to watch over my Momma. To take turns with my siblings, to wait an undetermined amount of time until she dies. This ticks me off. So not fair. If there is one thing I have learned… life is not fair. In fact, it’s harsh as hell. But the small sliver of bright in this muck is that I can still talk to her. All my life I have told Mom things, I have confided in her, shared more with her than most women do with their Moms. She has always been my go to girl when it comes to advice. I find it difficult to see my life without her ear and her words.

During the 10 days I was there before, so much time was spent learning how to care for and deal with my Mom as she loses her battle with emphysema. Hospice had multiple visits to acclimate us to all her needs now and in her short future. These days there is a new flow to her day that I will fall into. A routine for me to learn and be a part of. For 2 weeks I will have downtime that I cannot find in my real life. With my erratic schedule (thank you AltasAir!) I have no normal type of daily ritual. Time to do things always seem to be interrupted by something or other.

So for me to just…. sit. And…. wait.

I will enjoy all the days I have remaining with her. I will tell her all the dramas I have always told her about… I will tell her the secrets I tell only my momma.. I will share my latest craft idea which will invoke an idea that she will share with me.. I will share the funniest things I can come up with to hear her laughter..

I will..

I will..

I will..

I will find all the will I will need.

Before I get there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so life resumes…

My Mom is at home, and she is stable, after a week with her and not seeing any decline in her health, it was time to peel myself away from the situation and return to my life. I’ve missed Del. I’ve missed my job, my friends. I returned home to Alabama. The drive was long, filled with memories and tears. What if I never hug and kiss her again? The ‘what if’s’ ravaged my mind the entire ride.

Now that I’m home, I am overwhelmed. There is so much to get back to but I just can’t find the motivation. I feel lost. My mind is in St Louis. Busy worrying about the one thing I cannot change. It felt good to go back to work, the activity of moving around is a mood lifter. By the time I finished for the day, I was so physically whooped. Seems it just doesn’t matter though, my mind is still at full throttle. My sweet Mom, her independent spirit is still very much alive! Her will to control what is happening is there, but it’s just not working like it used to. I kissed and hugged her before I left. My last image of her was the helplessness and the fear of waiting I saw reflected in her eyes. How can I stop thinking about it??

I am proud that my sibs and I have come together to make sure she knows one of us will be with her until and at the moment. We three worked out a schedule where we will each be there to help take care of her. Even though hospice is involved, their time with her is limited until her health really declines. I have been home almost a week and the phone calls I’ve had with her – Mom sounds so amazing!! I know she is more restricted than she has ever been, that will never change. How can we possibly be waiting for such a thing as her death? The doctor told us to expect it soon. She doesn’t have much time… but to talk to her, it just seems unreal. She said to me today that she wants to know how much longer. How do I answer that???? And if all this is hard on me, what must it be doing to her?

She has been the one we have relied on for guidance and love. Where do I find the guidance I need to help her through this? Is my mind trying to deny her condition? Is it how I am able to function day to day without my mind taking me where I don’t want to go? This is not how it’s suppose to be! The little girl in me is stomping around and kicking up a fuss..

 

 

 

The words have been said.

Last year when I hit the guardrail and came out unscathed… I knew how lucky I was. I’ve spent alot of time pondering death. Death in general as a subject is interesting. But thinking about my own death has had a strange effect on me. The idea of the world going on without so much as a blink of an eye the minute I die. The mark that remains on those I leave behind will fade after a time and next thing you know… we’re a few generations down the road, and long forgotten. After all is said and done, I know one thing. I am afraid to die.

With heavy hearts we start our day. Meeting at Kenny’s, we hug and the feeling of sadness is thick. We have hashed and rehashed how we think the conversation will go and how she will take it. Each of us thinking different scenarios, because we each see someone different. She is our mom, and though she raised us with the same values and rules, she had a special way with each of us indiviually. Each child with their own dreams and dramas, their own set of problems and their own relationship with Mom.

We asked Kenny’s wife Tammy to go with us. She and Kenny have been married for 20 years, so she is as much a part of this as we are. When we arrived we peeked through the window of Mom’s room, to see if she was with anyone and she was eating lunch. We decided to let her eat, it’s just not the time to tell her such news. So we sat in a waiting area with some chairs and a tv. We finally get our collective will rolling only to come to a sudden stop! Alot of nervous energy floating around and the waiting was nerve racking, so we decide to go to the cafeteria. This was, by far, the best thing for us… all those butterflies needed calming. And there’s nothing like a snack to take the edge off.

After a bit we headed straight to her. Karen going first she walked right up to Mom and kissed her and hugged her. It took a minute for Mom to realize it was Karen, who had just left to fly home. As we all hug and kiss her the questions begin pouring out… what the hell? We four pull up chairs around the bed and slowly we begin explaining. The flow of conversation was smooth and we laid it all out. She sat and listened and interjected occasionally. And then it was quiet. Only the sound of tissues dabbing wet eyes.

There she sat. She said many things, wanted to know this… wanted to know that. The thing that stands out to me is her courage. She teared up but she didn’t cry. We asked her to think about the options that we presented, that there was no pressure for her to make any quick decisions. We could see that she was running out of steam… so we suggested she rest and we’d be back later.
Hugging and kissing her as we left, I felt my heart heavier now than when we came in. I just kept thinking about how if it were me, how would I handle sitting there thinking about news like this? Would I cry? Would I be angry? Would I be resigned?
We returned later in the evening and she was doing well. Her old spunky self. She asked a few more questions and my heart just broke. With all we presented her, I’m not sure if she is really grasping the gravity of it all. We’ve had a few days to absorb all this information and here we are, watching her weighing her only two options.
I don’t know what’s in store for us as the next few days unfold. I only know that I love her, and I don’t want her to feel the feelings I feel when I think about my own death. I would like to think I have many years left, death is an unknown, but I am not faced with my own immediate demise because my body is failing. I don’t want to her to face this choice at all… she’s my Momma.