Thursday, February 23, 2006

Day 2 - Hospice

Writer's note: For the next week I will be writing about the days leading up to my Mother's death as a way to help myself through this difficult time - the 2nd anniversary of her passing. Sometimes I switch between present and past tense, so, my apologies to you, Dear Reader. I've decided that grammar and punctuation can suffer in this instance.
You can read Day One here.


Since my sister is taking some time off to look after Mom - its good to have your own business - I've decided to go to work today and take some time mid-day to run home, check in, and then drive back to finish the work day and teach my evening classes. Its not a perfect plan, but being unsure about how long we have with her I think it might be better to work as long as I can, until its absolutely necessary to take an extended leave of absence. I desperately want to spend each day with her and my sister, but the reality is I need this job and can't afford to lose it. I know Mom understands. Even through all her pain she worked up until a month ago herself.

12:30pm - I hop in my car and make the almost hour long drive back home to see Mom. When I arrive I see that a hospital bed has been set up in her living room. During phone calls with my sister that morning it was decided, with the counsel of the visiting nurse, that Hospice was necessary. In this case "Hospice" means that the end is very near and we need to set things up for my Mom to make her the most comfortable in her remaining days. The nurse seems to think Mom has 2 weeks left, at the most a month. Thankfully, with the Nurse's help, we can keep Mom at home. This is one small blessing.

3pm - I have to leave to return to work. This kills me. I think I'll have to tell my boss that by the end of the week I'll be taking some vacation time. Mom and I have just had "the talk". I hated to do it but I had to find out what her wishes were for her funeral and burial. Her mother, my Grandmother, had offered us a space in her family plot and since my Mom and Dad are divorced, this seems like the best plan. She'll be with two of her brothers and her Mom and Step-Dad. My Sister and I like the idea of her being with family and Mom likes the idea too. But I really think she doesn't want to burden us with more decisions and financial responsibility.

As I leave to go, in a moment of total clarity (which also seems to be her last, in hindsight), my Mom holds my face in one hand and smiles at me for what seems like eternity. She doesn't say anything, she just smiles at me. I have to break the gaze because I start to cry and I need to be strong through this, I need to be strong for her and strong for my Sister. The memory of her look and the feel of her hand on my cheek, sure and strong, linger long after I have left. I remember it still.

The rest of the day passes in a blur. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you're running on auto-pilot. I have multiple phone conversations throughout the rest of the day with my Sister, my Aunts, my Grandmother, Mom's Boyfriend Bill, the Nurse. Conversations about Morphine and other Medications. Mom won't eat, she'll only drink chocolate milkshakes. Who can blame her? There have been many visitors since I've left - my Mom was one of 11 children - family and friends, more people than she can really handle but she greets them all with a smile before drifting off to that semi-conscious place. I feel better that she's with people and I vow to spend more time with her tomorrow.

Sleep does not come easily. The Hubby holds me while I cry.

No comments: