Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Long, Slow Pain

In the last six weeks, my mother has been in the hospital; in a nursing home; a day away from going back to her apartment…then back to the hospital, and back to the nursing home. It has been an arduous ordeal.

I can wish that her trials had ended with that first episode back in October. When her heart slowed and stopped, but the paramedics didn’t know enough to let it be. I can say that was her time, and she was cheated out of it. But that’s not really my call to make, is it?

Six weeks ago, Mom was not ready. She was just approaching the steep end of her final decline. She wasn’t tired enough, wasn’t near done fighting.

My sisters weren’t ready, either. Having been charged with her care since my dad’s death, they were so invested in keeping her going, that they didn’t recognize that the time was approaching to let her go.

Now. Now is the time. Six weeks of pain, confusion and fear have pried loose Mom’s vise-like hold on life. Six weeks of trying to alleviate that same pain, confusion and fear have ultimately served to redirect my sisters’ energies from keeping Mom alive at all costs, to keeping her comfortable as she completes her final journey.

So today, we will make the trip 100 miles south. Who knows, she may not even wait for us to get there. But it doesn’t matter. None of the bickering or the sniping, or the estrangements or the hurt feelings, or the bossiness or the passive-aggressive posturing…none of that matters now. My first thought was of these things, and how I didn’t want to deal with them. Not now, my heart argued. Not in my current sleep-deprived, chronically stressed-out condition. I have done my filial duty. I was at my dad’s bedside when he died. Surely that should give me a credible pass on this one. I told my sister we probably wouldn’t be coming. Call me when it’s over.

A few hours later, in a saner moment, I realized that was the wrong choice. You go to the bedside of your dying parent. You put aside all the dread and the stinging memories and the sibling bullshit, and you go. Not to say goodbye…she will not hear. Most certainly not to make some kind of show for anyone else. You go in love. In thanks. In honor of an eternal connection. In appreciation of a life well-lived.

Memories…they are a double-edged sword, are they not?


  1. You're probably on the road fighting game day traffice by now. My thoughts and prayers will be with you this day as they have been. May the light be with you today and all the tomorrows.

    The candles are lit,


  2. I had so hoped when I read that post that you would reconsider.  I know you'll be glad that you did.  The fact is that we do not know what individuals hear, feel or sense at this time of passing, even those in and out of consciousness. Their condition prevents them from telling us.  But this is what human beings must do for each other.  Certainly it is what we do for our mothers. We hold their hands and see them out of this world, just as they saw us in.  We ease the transition, make peaceful their journey because that is the debt of the living toward the dying.  We show them the love and respect that they deserve and in doing so, gain a measure of the same for ourselves.

    I wish your family peace on this journey.  (())

  3. Oh Lisa.  My prayers and hopes are with you tonight.

  4. Lisa, I have you in my thoughts tonight. You and your family.

  5. ((((((Lisa))))))))

    What a beautiful, eloquent, loving post...

    please know you're in my thoughts.


  6. blessings, lisa.  save travels for you and for your mom.  

    thinking of you in this holy time.

  7. Lisa I send thoughts your way of peace, comfort and love.  

  8. Ah, Lisa, the memories are that double edged sword.  I hope that your trip is peaceful and filled with kindness and love -- for and from everyone.  Thinking of you every day.  ~k

  9. what is it between mothers and daughters....all I know is that my mother is the one who for better or worse made me who I am...who I will be and sometimes she is me.  I suppose often that my daughter feels much the same....

    You did the right thing, the only real thing that matters.  You were there in love.  Love is all that transcends this world to the next.