I got the call at 11:15pm from my brother.
My uncle (Mom’s brother) and my brother were each holding her hand, one on each side of the bed. Her best friend had been in to visit and had just left 5 minutes before.
She was surrounded by loving hands and hearts in her final hour, and for this I am grateful.
Strangely enough, I am also grateful for the gift that cancer gave our family: the chance to say goodbye over time. The grief process began in early January, when Mom was diagnosed with cancer. By mid-March, we knew exactly what type of cancer we were dealing with (stage 4 appendiceal cancer) and we knew the prognosis. We had 3 months (to the very day!) to prepare for her death, three months in which to say “I love you” and grieve and say goodbye.
So now, I am not numb. I had my tears and I will have them again, but I am feeling strong tonight — strong enough to face the morning with a different kind of farewell. Tomorrow is the last day of school for my younger kids, filled with goodbyes and thank yous.
And I can do this. I have to do this. EB’s graduation is Saturday morning.
I said goodbye to my mother today. Just 8 days ago she was having a terrific day, although of course “a terrific day” is all relative when a person has stage 4 cancer.
This photo is from 2 years ago, when she was 70 years young. She looks nothing like this today. Today she is skeletal-thin and frail.
She went into the hospital on Friday night after being cared for nearly ’round-the-clock by my younger brother & SIL since Wednesday morning. Mom was in a great deal of pain — something she always insisted she had very little of, although we suspected she was just good at repressing it.
This morning my brother called from the hospital, told me the current situation (no more machines, just oxygen and a morphine drip), and then gave me about a minute to talk to Mom on the phone. She was so weak that one minute was her limit for talking. She was so weak it was difficult to understand her — the weakness prevents her from forming words clearly and she sounds like a stroke patient — but she did try to talk.
I told her I loved her and that I take comfort in knowing she will soon be with her mom and dad and ~M~ (her husband who died 13 years ago). I said I was sorry I couldn’t be there with her now (although honestly? I’m a little bit relieved that I’m not there. It would be so very hard. I’m obviously a big chicken) and that I loved her very much (true). And then she told me that she loved me. I’m glad I could understand those words.
So that is that. I’ve been given a gift, that one last time to say “I love you.” So many people don’t have that opportunity. I”m grateful to have been given that gift.
Now I wait for the phone call that tells me she has passed from this life.
Whatever the cause
Whatever the weather
Whatever life brings
We’re in this together!
* image taken on my back porch one year ago
Happy Valentines Day ♥
On Halloween, after we finished up with the parade (H-J was in the marching band, I was handing out candy), we didn’t head straight home. I had someone I wanted to see.
It was the 5th anniversary of her husband’s death. She spent the morning remembering a wonderful man with their children, and then in the evening she took the kids trick-or-treating.
Can you imagine how difficult that would be?
I’ve only known her for a few years, but I’ve walked through several trials with her and I’m amazed by her strength.
I hope that my presence was a comfort. We had a drink to toast the memory of her beloved husband.
And then, because she is a nurturing friend and consummate hostess, she made delicious omelettes.
We share a friendship with much laughter and tears (and food and drink).
I hope you have someone in your life with whom you can share tears of sorrow and joy.
This man, the love of my life, is just as handsome today as he was 23 years ago. ♥
Happy Birthday to SuperDad!
Last night I watched my son run for 89 minutes.
With each passing lap –45 in all — the sweat glistened more brightly on his skin, the determination evident on his face.
At the end of the fundraising event, he had run 11.25 miles and raised $150 for the team.
I’m very proud of him.
Way to go, EB!
photo taken by Humorous-Juniorous
My oldest son is a constant reminder to me that I am getting older. His leave-taking in just a few more weeks is both exciting and worrisome for me. I know he is ready to branch out and move on… it’s me who is concerned about the experiences he will encounter.
My mother has amazing energy and drive. She is still working part-time at 71, although she officially retired at the end of 2008. Now that she has a new hip (early 2009) she made the decision to get a new knee so she can keep up with her schedule and her travel desires. The surgery went well on Tuesday and she is on the road to recovery. She won’t be behind the wheel on the road for several months, though, which will be frustrating to my active mother. It doesn’t take much imagination to see that she will be amazing her P.T. in her efforts to get back on her feet.
My father is an old, old man at 74. He visited us in the spring of 2008 –it was the first time in 5 years that we had seen him– and although I had heard the aging in his voice with every illness, it was a shock to see him work so very hard to get up from a chair…to see his hands trembling. He has fallen several times lately (which may or may not be related to his early stage Parkinson’s Disease) and his latest fall produced a broken tibia. He is recovering in a health care facility since his wife, a petite 81yo, simply cannot lift a weak 270lb man. My siblings and I are taking turns, checking in daily, and wondering if and when we need to purchase plane tickets.
My husband’s parents are basically the same age as my parents, but they are the ones who have changed the least somehow: no major hospitalizations (not counting my FIL’s heart attack 15 years ago) and no bionic body parts. Oh, they no longer wrestle on the floor with the youngest grandchildren, as they did when the older ones were little, but they have joined in on the leaf fights and they still attend the high school football and basketball games, sitting up high on the bleachers for the best view. Grandpa no longer jogs but he still gets in his 2 mile walk each morning. Sure, they take naps every day, but I do that myself when I can! Sure, they have more lines on their faces and white hair has replaced the silver, but that is just looking the part when you are great-grandparents four times over, right?
I’m at the age where I am looking at the limbs –my children– as they stretch and grow beyond what I hope has been a strong and stable trunk, and I’m also watching the roots with concern as they grip firmly in the life-supporting soil (and praying we aren’t looking at life-support in the near future).
I am honored to have received this award from Hilary at The Smitten Image this week.
SuperDad with MusicMan, April 1991
When I posted this picture on facebook last year, my adult niece thought it was a picture of MusicMan holding a baby!
MM started out 21.25 inches long; he now measures in at 6’2″:
We’re very proud of the young man he has become.
It’s always a relief to discover that the class for which I am unprepared is not meeting that day!
Um, that would be the class I teach… and it meets on Thursdays…
My friend ~D~ is scheduled to come back home soon. She’s been recovering at her parents’ house for a week after major surgery. A group of us have been working on the old (newer) house to finish the moving out process, and we are also getting the new (much older) house ready for her to come home to — a bit of cleaning, a bit more unpacking & setting up. I am thankful and blessed to be part of such a wonderful “family.”