Sunday. March 29, 1998 my mom passed into eternity.
She was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer on Valentine’s Day 1998. They gave her a year to live, more or less. She died in 6 weeks. It seems like yesterday.
I had come for a visit Saturday, the weekend before her death. I never left. I could see that she was failing. Trying to keep up with her needs was futile and disheartening. As fast as we could work out a situation, she would deteriorate to a point that the solution was rendered useless. Back to square one.
On Monday I called her doctor and explained the situation. Told him that I thought she was dying. Now. In the very immediate future, maybe days. Begged him for help, to no avail. Just his reply: “She’s not dying, she’s got a year.” After numerous, fruitless calls to him, I wanted to reach through the phone and drag him into my reality!
Finally, I think it was Wednesday afternoon, an angel appeared at our door. After visiting with my mother for a few minutes, getting her to laugh, she asked to speak to me outside. She asked me about my mother and what I thought was happening. I told her point-blank that I thought my mother was not going to live a year. I told her I thought she had maybe days. The nurse looked at me deeply with understanding and compassion and confirmed what I had known. And had tried to get her medical team to understand…..
I can not describe the relief we felt to finally get the assistance we needed. A hospital bed made all the difference as did hospice care. Now we could attend to the most important issues. Making her comfortable and just being with her. Loving her. Waiting on her hand and foot as she had done for us kids at one time so many years ago. Saying goodbye.
My mother gave me a very special gift in that week I spent with her as she lay dying. I’d never had children. My life up to that point had been one of pleasing no one but myself. I believe those of us who choose not to have children usually take a little longer to learn what it means to really and truly love without conditions. Sacrificial love where one almost ceases to exist in caring for the other. I truly believe that in that last week of her life, it was the first time in my own life that I had no thought what so ever of myself or my needs. It was all about her. And my desire to love her. I was 43.
In her final days, my mother gave me the gift of learning what it means to love.
Thank you, mom. For everything.