Thursday, July 17, 2008

Baltimore Wrap-Up Part II-- The Mom Part

I really feel like I should put some kind of a spoiler in here. This is not a low-carb post, and it's all about dying. If you want food, go to yesterday's post. If you want dysfunctional family dynamics, that's the next one.

I think that you can know perfectly well that someone is near death, but it's still a hell of a shock. Even more so in this case, because it was all so (mercifully, I suppose) fast. I don't think that any of us expected the actual way that this went. I'm writing this partly because I need to, but I'm also writing it because I just didn't have any expectation or knowledge about what would happen here, and I really wanted to know that... really wanted some notion of the process, and it was the thing that I simply couldn't find anywhere. Everyone, every thing is different, but maybe this will be helpful to someone else.

We knew it was only a short time, that her body was riddled with cancer, that there was no real hope. But a short time can mean months. But this was so fast.

I got there early Thursday morning, and she looked, all things considered, ok. Frail. But I brought her some roses from my garden, and she could actually smell them... a surprise in itself, because she's barely been able to smell anything since an illness about 15 years ago. We sat for a while, and I tried to make her more comfortable. And there was a merika lily blooming... they bloom for only a day, and usually not this season. My youngest sister and I decided to go out to get some different pillows and to give my other sister, who was clearly way overtired, a chance to nap in peace. Everything seemed ok, within the constraints.

My sister called while we were out to ask us to get something else and said that they'd gotten her up for a minute... she'd pretty much not been standing for days... and bathed her. And she was tired but all right. But as we walked in the door... well, just that minute, really, something had happened, and she slipped into this coma. There was some thought that she may have had a stroke, but there's no way of knowing... she was on anticoagulants and prone to clotting, so standing up could have released something. But perhaps not.

And so, for a little less than two days, we watched. We tried to keep her comfortable. We held her hand... and it seemed like maybe there was a response. I whispered to her things that she probably couldn't hear... but you never know. Things that I could not otherwise say.

Friday night, I went to bed, and I was called at 7:30 in the morning to come now. And it was clear that she was leaving. She was white and pasty and almost immobile. But her heart was still beating, and she stayed until everyone was there. And then she slipped away.

And so it ends.

A year and a little of heart-stopping fear mixed with a time of hope... a time I started breathing again, a time that I stopped calling her every day. And then it all turned around in a heartbeat, and there was nothing to be done.

I am so sad. Sad for the loss, sad for the tragic ironies of it, sad for the things that went so wrong with my mother and me, early on, and that really never could be repaired. This isn't a "wish I'd said whatever" kind of thing... there was nothing else that I was capable of saying. I do wish that it had been different. I do hope that the reincarnation that she believed in is true, and that someday we'll have a chance to do it over again, better.

1 comment:

Roy and Hazel said...

I am very very sorry, Nina. My thoughts are with you.