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..
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.
The patter of tiny feet. Wispy baby hair tickling my nose as I cuddle them in my arms. The big eyed wonder of their child minds grasping knowledge of something. I have been knee deep in these feelings for the last few days, as I am caring for a good friend of mines granddaughter.
Cora Mae is 16 months and full of little girl LIFE! She has embraced me as a caretaker and I am flooded with feelings I haven’t felt in so many years. (And how strange, yet appropriate, my youngest child – Kyle – today! – just happens to be his 26th birthday, my baby is 26!! ugh.) ((Happy Birthday Squirt!!))
If you know anything about me you’ll know that I didn’t want to have kids, until they happened to me. I’ve known parents who were born to be outstanding role models. I didn’t think I fit into that category. And in spite of the chaotic lifestyle I lead, my kids turned out great! These couple days, I have had the pleasure of being transported to back then ~ when my kids were small and depended on me for everything. The structure (albeit tilted), the love, the physical closeness of their little bodies laying on me, those funny faces, the sheer joy in their eyes, the little kid laughter that only a child possesses, the little arms hugging my neck with all their might, the whispered i love you momma…’s, gosh that time is gone. I have only memories and a few pictures of that childlike innocence. The unconditional love of my children. Shelby and her big brown eyes… my sweet Booboo. Kyle and his blonde curls… my little protector. Those two special little faces right in front of me… bumpin’ noses… laughin’.. kissin’… huggin’… snugglin’. I loved them. I still love them.
My kids are grown and have lives and kids of their own. But that doesn’t change how I am connected to them. In my mind they are still the tiny creatures I nurtured into adults. Life isn’t fair… couldn’t they have stayed smaller just a little longer?