Thursday, April 28, 2016

RIP Mom October 1, 1942- April 23, 2016

Mom left us this past weekend, after a tough battle with cancer.  The last couple of months, and especially the last few weeks have been hard. She was so strong and brave, and through it all she worried about us.  She spent her last month at home, and I think it gave her comfort being there, with her caregiver Bertha, who really provided the compassionate and personal care she deserved.

During her last week she wasn't able to speak, but clearly understood everything.  Many people called and came to visit to say goodbye.  That was really difficult, but what a blessing it is to be able to say goodbye.  Friday was really rough, and we did all we could to try to keep her comfortable.  Her friends came by, shared some prayers, and we just held her hand.  Later in the evening her friend Dana (a nurse) stopped by to visit and working with the hospice nurse on the phone, made adjustments to her medication to ease her breathing.  It really helped calm her, and while she still had difficulty, she was at least resting better.  Her last couple of hours she was peaceful, and just before midnight, she quietly left.  We notified hospice and then the funeral home, who came out at 1:30am to take her.

Through it all my sister remained stronger than I thought she could ever be, and I'm proud of her for it.  I'm glad I could be there at the end, and she wasn't alone.  But she never was.  She had so many people praying for her.  Mom touched so many people and it's unlikely I can ever know just how many that really is.  We are still making arrangements and I still can't believe she's gone.  I miss her dearly.  I love you mom.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


We are all faced with challenges in our lives.  They start when we are young and never let up.  Over time we learn how to deal with them, but they are never easy, or they wouldn't be challenges.  The difficulties faced as a child are no less stressful than those faced as an adult; as adults we have experience to help us recognize the severity of youthful situations is not the same as what we face as adults.  Death is [fortunately] one of those.  I am 50 and can have not had to deal with loss near as often as many other people.  I have been blissfully in my bubble while my mom has been advancing rapidly towards the inevitable.  Her unsuccessful radiation treatment last May did nothing except make her feel really bad with every listed side effect.  The previous chemo bought her a fair amount of time without negative side effects, but the demon of cancer was going to have another victim no matter what.

I'm writing as a way to make myself feel better about what is happening right now.  Mom is at home, waiting to pass.  She lost her ability to swallow yesterday and so her only sustenance is pain meds, which I pray are helping her.  She is present but has lost her ability to speak as well.  It is the hardest thing in the world to witness, but so many people have been there for her.  I'm numb today, yet it is truly my first day of this.  I have been task-focused which has allowed me to remain in my bubble of denial for so long.   But now I am mentally exhausted, after just one day of really feeling what is going on.  I mean spent.  Yet she has been so strong.  Every time she had to deal with this.  At the same time I have to be an example to my children, who are experiencing this for the first time (Sam was very young when Brenda passed.  He had the vision as a 5-year old to say that she wasn't in pain anymore).  I pray for that.  I pray for mom.  People were calling today to say goodbye.  It was really hard to hear these calls.  Mom has meant so much to so many people, and to call someone to say goodbye - as in we will never speak again in this life - I have not yet crossed that bridge.  I had better do it soon, or I will have to add items to my basket of regrets.  I pray I still have a little time.

I'm just rambling now as I'm in a fog knowing there are only hours or perhaps days left for my mom.  She has been so strong.  She has been strong her entire life.  As in older generation strong - that doesn't seem to exist - looking at the current generation with their safe zones...  I will write more about mom later.  But I was looking at recent photos and thought I'd post a few.

Less than two weeks ago her friend Rita passed away.  I struggled for days about whether or not I should tell her.  After seeking advice I decided not to.  The priest was right.  We needed to keep mom comfortable, and she would know about Rita, and our dilemma/struggles, soon enough and would understand.

Holy crap this is hard.