Note: This is another example of Blogger Scheduler not working. I have already gone to visit my mom and come back.
Dealing with, addressing, trying to find solutions for Dylan's issues consumes me and weighs on me. Couple that with financial troubles and it's almost difficult for me to get through my work day.
And then there was more.
For a few years now my mom has been battling bone cancer. It's odd to say, but up to now, it's actually gone well. Bone cancer is incurable, from what I understand, but she's gone through most of it really well.
You hear horror stories about chemotherapy, but the reality is that although it made her a little tired, she never lost a single strand of hair. She continued going out daily for coffee and meals. For a while, it almost became just an annoying part of life, like weekly allergy shots.
It got a little tougher when she started having breathing trouble. Mom smoked for fifty years, so breathing issues were not entirely unexpected (at least by me; it somehow came as a surprise to her). The doctors said that the chemo probably exacerbated the problem and brought it to the surface, but didn't directly cause it.
At first, having to be on oxygen freaked her out way more than the chemotherapy ever did. She went into the hospital twice due more to the anxiety over it than anything else. After a while, however, she acclimated and actually the problems lessened. She didn't have to be on oxygen all the time and she got a little different system that was more manageble. She entered another phase of managing her cancer seemingly well, although she did have to curtail shopping (her greatest love) because her breath didn't have the stamina.
Then her ankles started to swell. She's actually had this problem for a long, long time, thanks to high blood pressure, but from what I understand, it was much, much worse. Steroids helped for a while, but they don't like you to be on them forever. She ended up having a nurse come in to wrap them. It became difficult for her to get around, but not impossible.
Even that became more manageable. But then she got tired. Really really REALLY tired. My mom has always been one to get out of the house every single day. She has a whole slew of coffee clatch regulars she would meet with and go out to dinner with. But she was finding that she couldn't do it. Worse, she didn't even want to.
She feared the worst. And apparently the worst was true.
I don't know all the details. For starters, my mom is the one of the most independent people you will ever meet. She's also one of the least questioning people - meaning she will take in what doctors tell her without asking a lot of questions.
What seems clear is that the cancer that was held steady for so long is spreading. And the chemotherapy is no longer helping. She thinks it's now in her lungs, courtesy of a persistent cough. The doctors have told her there is nothing more they can do for her and to get her affairs in order.
I do not even know how to react to all this.
I'm 1,500 miles away from her. What can I possibly do? How can I possibly be there for her when she needs me?
I feel like a failure as a daughter, even as I know that I would probably make all the same decisions over again.
Dylan and I will fly up there next week to be with her. She doesn't have a lot of energy, but we are planning to see the new Star Trek movie. My mom was an original Trekkie and is still a huge fan. I'll also try to help start the mon-u-mental task of going through her stuff. She is a bit of a hoarder.
I don't know how to tell her all the things I should, especially with emotional, reactive Dylan right there with me. I don't know how to say final things or even how to deal with the fact that a year from now I might be celebrating Mother's Day without my mother.
I'm sad, stunned, and empty. My mom is not the Leave it Beaver or Brady Bunch mom, but she's mine and I don't want to lose her. I want to go back in time and take those cigarettes out of her hand. I want to get her out and walk with her and force her to be healthy and eat right. But just as she couldn't change my decisions, I know I could never have changed hers.
How have you dealt with the loss of a parent? How do you prepare? How do you ever get over it?
(c) The Argonne Chronicles, 2013