Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A little reflection, a little looking toward the future.

They came for Mom's hospital bed. I truly didn't think it would affect me the way it did. The room looks so empty. And I felt the way the room looks. I almost cried, but couldn't squeeze more than a few tears.

I don't know why. Perhaps it's because the last few years have called for so many tears I just don't have a lot left. How dramatic is that statement. It's true, though. I have grieved, as we all have, and have experienced anticipatory grief for Mom for more than a decade. I feel good that I could spend the last two years of her life with her. Once, she told me - "You're sweet. I always thought you were hard to get along with." Well...Mom wasn't far from wrong, but she and I spent a lot of time together not as mother and daughter. She was my employer until I was thirty-six, and maybe I was difficult because waitress was not my life's goal.

But we became close as the years went on. And we were even more so, the longer we lived together. She often remarked, "We get along so well. Did you ever think we would be living together again?"

I cooked in Mom's kitchen tonight. And later, as I was cleaning the mess I made, something came over me that had nothing to do with grief, and a lot to do with remembering.

Mom's sisters, whom she loved so much. The weekend canasta fests, when they all drank diet coke and laughed, called each other "hussey!" when one built a better hand than the other. They had so much fun! ... and I was the fly on the wall, or an observer on their periphery, taking it all in. They were my exposure to what a close family really is. They had so much love, and we loved being near them.

They're all gone, now, hopefully reunited in the proverbial much better place. I hope so. And tonight, for the first time, it occurred to me that it's time to step up and assume the role left to me.

I want to be happy. And I am...more than that, I want to leave the sisters' legacy for my children and grandchildren. I want them to have good times, laughter and love to remember and pass on to their own families, one day.

A few weeks before Mom went to the hospital, she and I were talking, about noise. She said it didn't bother her, and I agreed, saying noise - the kids, the tv, etc, were sounds of living. She watched me intently as I was talking, and she smiled. She would have wanted me to carry on. She would have wanted us to be happy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

New Challenges

Last week, I took the plunge and made an appointment with a doctor. I did this after my brother was diagnosed with diabetes the previous week. And I had felt so...wrong, bad...over the past few months that, on a whim, I took my own blood sugar level. It was 287. I was horrified.

The doctor's appointment confirmed what I already knew, and I'm ok with it. There's a very good chance that I can eventually come off the medication and control the diabetes with diet and exercise. What bothered me is, my daughter was diagnosed the same day I was. That is not ok.

She isn't handling it well, probably because she's confused about what she can and cannot eat. She has had a rough couple of months, and she is afraid because she knows her Grandmother's diabetes contributed to her death.

So for the next while, my new mission is to make sure she - and I - do what we need to do to face this disease head-on and control it.

Maybe I have more purpose, after all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I hardly know how to begin this...

But it's important to write, for myself.

On September 5, my mother died. She had been in the hospital for two weeks. She had her 75th birthday there. The doctor allowed her to have fried chicken chimichangas for her birthday meal. The Monday after that, she went into respiratory arrest, and was rushed in for an emergency cardiac cath.

Amazingly enough, it wasn't her heart. I could list a litany of treatments she was subjected to after her cath, emergent dialysis, life support...

On the one hand, I am furious with the hospitalist who talked her into rescinding her DNR. She would have gone peacefully the day she had the cath, but no. She never really woke again, that I could tell. I visited her, I talked to her, rambling on about ordinary things that seemed so trivial in the face of her grave situation. We held her hand, we smoothed her hair back. We prayed, sang to her. Told her it would be ok. And there is the other hand. We had time to say goodbye, and know it was right to let her go. We told her it was okay, if she was too tired to fight anymore. We told her we would be all right.

And she went. I wasn't there; the hospital didn't call me, and neither did my brother. I tell myself that the important thing is, she was not alone at the end. I tell myself I couldn't have taken watching that beautiful spirit take her leave of this world.

I don't know how it was for my brother and sisters; she was so many things to all of us. For me, I lost my mother, best friend, my child...I had taken care of her for the last two years. I don't know what I'll do with myself, now. She was my company late in the night. We talked, reminisced, played games, drank coffee together.

And then I think, Oh, what she gave me...laughter. Music. Poetry. Heart. Life.

I know how lucky I have been in my life, how fortunate I was to have her and be with her these last two years.

A long-distance cousin sent lavender roses flanked with lavender calla lillies. She wanted something unique, she said, because Mom was such a singular, beautiful woman. Last night, I woke to the scent of those roses. I like to think it was a visit from her, a message that she is here in all the rare, wonderful things in this world.

I'll miss you, Mom.