Her last 3 days of life
I needed to tell the story of my mother's last days of life. It has been bottled inside me for too long and it helped me let go of some of my grieving. Very therapeutic - as some of us can relate. Thanks for having a look. Thank you for all of your kind words of support, too.
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Journaling reads: It has taken me 11 1/2 years to write this. I have been grieving and continue to, but, I have to let this out or I feel as though I’m going to burst.
I believe in God and I also believe that He allows those who have passed on to help us even after they die. They visit us in our dreams, leave certain smells that make us think of them or put things in our way that remind us of special times or their favorite items.
Mom found out 4 months after Dad died that she had Non-Hodgkins lymphoma. That’s the kind you can’t cure but you can live longer with chemo treatments if you’re lucky. She had been having abdominal pain and the doctor thought it was her gall bladder so he did surgery, only to discover that she had Stage 3 cancer and it was spread from her abdomen, up, under her heart. I was devastated when she broke the news to me. I cried like crazy. She never cried. She said she didn’t believe the doctor and that God wouldn’t let it happen to her.
During the months that followed, she had a portacath put in and started receiving chemo treatments. Her hair fell out. We shopped for a wig but nothing looked right so she wore a scarf outside and went natural inside the house. That’s a shocking sight to see but I got used to it and she continued to smile. She had chemo for months with no improvement. Joe found out about a new drug called rituxin and we asked the doctor if she could have it. Yes. After several doses, she went into remission. Thank you, God.
It didn’t last but it gave us time. Time to pray, time to be together, time to show each other how much we loved each other - through the bad stuff.
She had started complaining of pain in her right hip. Yet another doctor visit, only this time, we found out it was broken. Just brittle bones. She had terrible fluid built up. The doctor did surgery and afterward, he told me it was like cutting into a watermelon. She just oozed right from her skin, even after the surgery. Recovery was hard and the cancer was taking over again. She got so sick (78 lbs.) but still kept a smile on her face.
I don’t know what happened that 4th day of March. She had been vomiting what looked like coffee grounds. We knew that was bad but she managed to keep tiny amounts of food down. I had just made her lunch, she ate and sat in the living room chair while I did dishes. She was watching TV when I came in the room. We were chatting about the show when suddenly she looked up at the ceiling. She just kept staring at
one particular spot. I asked repeatedly why she
was looking there and then she finally said, “Oh my God!” Those were the last words she spoke.
I panicked and called Joe and hospice. They came right away. Mom was sort of paralyzed and incoherent. We got her moved to her bed where Joe and I kept vigil over her constantly. Hospice told us it wouldn’t be long before she passed and gave us morphine to add to the oxycontin she was already taking for pain.
At one point, she fought to speak, and said to Joe, “Help me.” It almost killed him because he couldn’t. We couldn’t. We both became emotional wrecks.
March 5th, hospice told us to have someone stay with Mom and go make funeral arrangements. That was horrible; which casket, which clothes, which flowers? This can’t be happening. I don’t want this.
Joe and I were completely incapable of facing the care of Mom when we got home. Hospice advised us that they could take Mom to a nursing home for 2 days and bring her back so we could have a break. Reluctantly, we did, so on March 6, an ambulance came to take her. Joe and I made plans to see her after supper.
As I drove home, completely in tears, I think I had a breakdown. I was literally stuck in my car and physically couldn’t move my body. My neighbor heard me calling and had her boyfriend carry me inside my house. They got me situated and called Dave. I was better by dinner, but just as I was going to eat, Joe called me and said Mom had died. I was sick, relieved and numb, all rolled into one. What just happened? I’ve lost her... forever. Why? Why her? Did I tell her everything I needed to? Why isn’t “I love you” enough?
We went to the nursing home and Uncle Lenard and Aunt Betty met me there first. They tried to prepare me for what I was about to see. She was horrible shades of purple, yellow and brown. They told me her kidneys shut down and that’s why she was all colored. You can’t imagine the shock and sickness I felt. I let her down. I wasn’t there when God took her.
What is embedded in my brain was how she had stared at the ceiling so long on March 4th. What did she see? Was it like the movie Ghost? Did she see the light? Was it my dad? God? Her parents? What? I guess someday, when it’s my time to go, I might find out.
I have struggled to live life without her. She was my rock, my best friend, my Mom. I keep asking God, “Why? Why her? Why then? She was only 66.” If you’re listening Mom, come see me every chance you get because I know you’re around me. I will always love you.
| Date: Wed December 21, 2011
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Registered: November 2009
Location: St. Louis, MO