Today was harder than I expected it to be. Day two of not leaving the house. Giving Dad a chance to get out and do all the things he has been needing to do.
Mom is still testing to see if I actually can do this. Still has my sister “show me how” and train me on the same old stuff. Only difference is I haven’t had years of training in medical settings. I’m diving right in and learning on the fly. Sometime I do well. There are a few things I am extremely grateful that I have yet to be tested on, but one day…. As far as getting medicine in correctly & on time, I’m up to speed on the system. Unless we change it – which we seem to do daily. Food, I evidently excel at cooking easy to eat bland food. If only more than one person enjoyed the stuff! No matter what I am trying my best and she is eating more than she was before. My best also includes me maintaining stress levels on me. So yes as I sit/lay by her side I read, I am online, I text… while she watches TV shows I would normally keep scrolling by on the menu. To my mom my actions say “she is busy”, to me it simply is “waiting near by”. We have NEVER been good with communications. Why would things change at this stage?
For far too many years my mom & I didn’t see eye to eye. We never had that close bond you see in movies and TV. Sure we were alike in somethings – we are family, but I have never been a little version of her. I think through the years we both have taken pride in that. She would do things that I would be embarrassed or think were crazy. I certainly drove her up the wall with my choices in life and testing my limits.
Only after getting out of the house on my own, was there enough space to see the beauty in each other. We became friends for the first time instead of two at odds in a power struggle.
Sadly it wasn’t that much longer that she started not feeling so much like herself. Something was wrong & it wasn’t going away. She secretly getting several test and even the diagnosis & first surgery – yes ALL that done while we were away (3 hours away) at college. She didn’t want to worry us. Trust has also always been an issue with her. So upon coming home from break, we were told she did indeed have cancer. No it was not a particularly aggressive strand & no there were no cures. This most likely would be something that further on down the line would kill her. Early in 2000, she was diagnosed with Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma. At that point we didn’t know much. All we knew were that most likely no of us were at risk and that as long as she was willing to keep fighting, we would have support. This rare cancer appeared to me like a demented version of whack-a-mole. It starts out in one specific location. Then it can come anywhere at anytime. As long as you spot it & take care of that, you get to go on. Until the next mole pops up. Sooner or later you get tired from whacking those moles and surrender.
She has surrendered.
Still the game isn’t over.
That is what we face now. The waiting. The wondering. The hoping for more, but knowing that it isn’t there. The wishing we could make it better & doing all we can do to give some comfort. Knowing the only true comfort is going to leave the biggest void in our lives.
The hope now lies in our family. Holding us together during and after. We fight together to stay sane. To do what we can and while taking care of her, making sure we take care of each other.
There will be better days ahead. There will be laughter and smiles and memories revisited. But we have to get there. We have to make a few more and maybe not so happy ones. Right now we just have to survive her not surviving this time. The slowness only make it harder. I want her to be free from the pain, free from the indignity I know she feels every time a diaper is changed or catheter bag emptied. I wish she was able to decide what she wanted to eat & how exactly it was made anytime she wanted it. I see the dull look in her eyes as she has to swallow yet another pill drinking from the straw in the only partially filled light kiddy cup that she has help holding since it is too heavy for hands that once could lift crates of textbooks or were so steady she could hand stitch beautiful quilts. It hurts she is so aware. It shreds hearts knowing she realizes this is the downward slide & there is no time frame to look forward to. We have no idea how long this will last.
Selfishly we want her around long as possible.
We want her to be ok. Miracles happen right?
But we know sometimes miracles aren’t the same to all people. For her relief is different for us.
So while I sit & wait, memorizing pill names and dosages or how to re-position her in bed, to try to get some movement to avoid bedsores and get ill about my life being on hold. I don’t think there is any place else I should be today. We rebuilt this relationship. It is what it is. She is my mom. For a little while longer, we share this earth. After that, I can do me. For now, we need to do we.
So classes on hold.
New years resolution goals all on hold.
Right now it is finding what works for right now. Be that today, an hour or a few moments.
Recharge while we can to be ready for what may come.
One thing I know. You are NEVER too old to hold hands with your mom.