I wrote about a week ago regarding a rapid and unwanted descent into dementia and Alzheimer’s. However, today, I write about waiting for the phone to ring. In the past week, circumstances led us to the emergency room and eventually to ICU. My healthy mom who not more than a month ago was ready to go anywhere and to talk about anything, is suffering. She has a sepsis infection in her lungs and a possible lung cancer we didn’t even know existed. She cannot breathe without oxygen and alternates between fighting with the nurses, sleeping and gasping for breath. A few days ago, I wrote a draft of this post to prepare myself for losing her. Nevertheless, in the last three days, the medical care she received was tremendous and the good doctors have saved her life…for now, I think.
It is still true that she may never recover fully because there is just too much sickness so there will be no grand treatment, no effort to thwart whatever may come. It will be months before we know if she has recovered to any real extent. The medical details don’t really matter. What matters to me is that life should not end this way.
While I feel like I lost the real parts of her a few weeks ago, she was still there in front of me. At times, visiting her in a nursing home has been like watching life be sucked away piece by piece. I have spent much of these years in frustration – a bit of guilt – and sometimes even anger, but mostly I just loved her the best I could. Despite her sadness, aches and pains, and utter boredom, she was forever smart and funny and could help me see things more clearly. She analyzed and considered all the news I brought to her and was able to be a mom to me, love my children, calm me down, give me advice, or change the subject.
But now, I don’t want to feel this uncertainty, it is not welcome. Despite what may be medically possible, she doesn’t want to live suffering and in despair. She doesn’t want that for me. If she leaves me, I know what I will feel – that familiar heaviness, sadness and pain. The tears will come and be my constant companion until they are not. I will feel and look like I aged ten years and will become someone whose parents are no longer alive. But, still, death is something I think I can handle. Instead, we have endless days of loss. Too much loss…