Friday, August 1, 2008

Could this be the beginning of the end?

Well... here I sit at my computer feeling many different emotions today. At this moment: hate, resentment, sadness and sorrow, worry, hope and guilt, stress, nervousness and fear.

HATE: coronary artery disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), diabetes, an inoperable leaking heart valve which is stealing Moms energy and strength, dementia brought on by her MS which is stealing the only thing my mom has left... her memory, all of her memories.

RESENTMENT: I resent the illness(es) that took our mother away from us at an early age. I resent the illness(es) that took our fathers wife away so early in their lives together. Mom got sick in her late 30's and was not to live to be 42. I was only about 10 or 11 when Camille and I were told we needed to prepare for her death. I resent that I had to face living without a mom to carry us through puberty, to see us graduate high school & college, to see us marry, and to meet her future grandchildren. All of that is so difficult and frightening at such a young age. I resent that my sister at the age of 13 or 14 had to become the woman of the house, she had to grow up too fast to help my dad take care of me, too plan and cook our meals so dad could work. I resent we had to have hospice come to our home to prepare for moms death. Our first emotional roller coaster. We were so lucky that Mom pulled through, beat the odds and lived to see her 42nd birthday and beyond. She wasn't supposed to but she did. She made it through her first open heart double bypass surgery. Little did we know the worst was yet to come and it would all span over 30+ years... more emotional roller coasters.

SADNESS AND SORROW: Mom didn't get to live the life she wanted to live. Over seas travel was taken away. Raising her two daughters the way she wanted was taken away. Fear of losing the battle was always in sight. So sad for Mom for all that she has had to endure, all that she had to give up, all that she has had to suffer through to make it to where she is now, to have all of her memories eaten away. It's so sad and so difficult to watch. I don't cry about it much anymore, it's part of our everyday life.

WORRY: Is it almost over? I worry for my dad, the toll it has taken on him to see his wife suffer for so long. The effect it has taken on his physical being, his spiritual being. Having to live with the constant worry of "is today going to be the day?"... always looming in the cellar of his mind (and ours too).

HOPE AND GUILT: Hoping that it will be over soon, the suffering. The guilt for having that hope... I don't want Mom to die but I want her suffering to end, I want our suffering to end (more guilt for feeling this way). I don't know if there is a "happier place" that everyone talks about... a place where families are joined together after many years of being apart. If there is such a place I can only hope that Mom will find her mom and dad, that they are waiting for her with open, protective, loving arms. I know Mom would love to feel them again.

STRESS: This comes from everything I've mentioned. It wreaks havoc on my physical being.

NERVOUSNESS AND FEAR: I'm afraid of what it will be like to have to live without my mother in my life. I don't want to have the experience of hearing for the first time that Mom is gone, I don't want to have the experience of picking up the phone to call her then remember she's no longer there. I don't want to feel that profound sadness that I've heard is felt when a parent dies. I don't want to have to face visitors with a strong, brave face. I don't want to have to hear "at least she isn't suffering any longer". I'm afraid of what will happen to my dad. I don't want to have to try to comfort him that his wife is gone. I don't want to have to tell him everything will be okay. I don't want dad to have to face visitors with a strong, brave face. I don't want to see the devastation and sadness in Dads eyes.

Fortunately not all was bad though. For a few years Mom was able to go back to work in real estate, she was able to travel as far west as California, as far north as Alaska, and as far south as the Panama Canal. Mom has two sisters who have given her so much help and have been so supportive, Mom has lots of loving, caring friends who kept her busy, took her shopping for pretty clothes, made sure she had lots of laughs. Mom lived to see Camille and me graduate high school and college, she lived to see Camille and me get married, and she lived to meet her grandchildren (all 4 of them). She lived to enjoy many years with her husband whom she loves like no other, and she is so fortunate to have a husband who has undying, unconditional love for her.

My sister, Camille, called me yesterday afternoon (7/31) to ask if I had talked to Dad. Dad told Camille that Mom has gotten to the point where she sleeps a good portion of the day away and has for a while. This I knew and it had occurred to me already that this may be a symptom of an end in sight. Dad and Mom met David, me, and our kids out for dinner last night. For the first time in the 11 years that he has known my mom David could tell that she was not well. She is very frail and unsteady. Mom is currently in heart failure and is retaining a lot of fluid. She has fluid build-up around her lungs which is making it difficult and painful to breath - pleurisy I guess. At the dinner table Dad leaned over to me and whispered that we should spend as much time with her as possible. So... here we are in another emotional roller coaster. Moms track record is to come back from the brink, when all of us including her doctors are certain it's the end. Part of me hopes this is one of those times when she will come back strong, then part of me hopes she will just fall asleep peacefully and hopefully, reunite with her parents(again the guilt).

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