Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wherever you fly....

this isn't goodbye, My love will follow you, stay with you, baby you're never alone.

Its taken me 17 days to get the courage to come onto my blog and post about my mother's passing.  Most everyone knows that God gained another angel the day before Mother's Day, Saturday, May 11th, 2013.  She passed away without being in pain and honestly it was beautiful.  The days leading up to that, however, were anything but.  I don't know how many times I have said out loud and on Facebook that "this is the hardest thing I have ever done".  Anything prior to Mom's last twelve days literally pales in comparison.  I found out just how strong I was and at some times just how weak as well.  There were two different times that I had to just step out of the room because it was all too intense in my head, and there's NO WAY I was going to let her see me fall apart even though she was 'sleeping'.  I held it together, I gave her the morphine liquids, I gave her the shots after she could no longer swallow, every hour.  On the hour.  I stayed up for three nights straight because that's what she would have done for me.  She would have done more.  Sh has done more.  She has made me who I am today and passed along the strength and the will for me to get through her last days.  No doubt in my mind that she built a foundation for me that I am forever grateful for.

This post could get to be very long, boring, tedious, and just downright depressing if I decided to divulge all the details.  I think out of respect of our family, only the necessary details will be given.  I am happy to tell our story of how cancer stole my mother to anyone who would like to listen up close and personal, though.  Maybe it will help someone cope, or to prepare for one of their loved one's impending illnesses.  I will guarantee you my Mother's story is a powerful one, not to be easily forgotten.  When previously I said she was a fighter, that was an understatement compared to her last days.  There came a point about 48 hours before she passed that the Hospice nurses threw up their hands and said "I don't know what to tell you except she has THE strongest heart and fight in her that we have ever seen".  And they have seen a lot.

Mom put a roast in the oven on Wednesday, May 1st, got sleepy and decided to lay down after we had exhausted her with a family visit that day, and she never again got up to walk.  She had a couple lucid moments where she knew who she was and who was surrounding her, but for the most part, sleep.  She just slept.  Friday she woke up to her hospice nurse, told her she loved her, and asked to see her brothers, her grandkids, and the pastor.  We flew into action, getting everyone there, pulling the kids out of school, and she was lucid and speaking three or four words.  For about three amazing hours, she was awake.  Smiling.  Being loved.  She knew where she was headed and she wanted to say goodbye, she wanted to say hello, she was preparing for where she was going.  After about three hours, she closed her eyes again to sleep.  Never again would she be awake long enough to carry on full conversations, but she would open her eyes every once in awhile when new visitors came and would speak their names.

After the tenth day started, I knew her tiny body was giving in, and even her heart.  I held her hand.  I stayed bedside for ten days waiting for HER and God to decide when the time was right.  I stroked her hair, we gave her shots of morphine and we waited.  And waited.  As soon as she started to slow her breathing, I knew it was time.  It didn't take her long to just slow her breathing and never take another breath.  No gasping for air, no scary noises, just peaceful slow breathing.  I swear to you it was one of the most beautiful acts I have ever witnessed.  After her struggling and sleeping and moaning in pain for TEN days with no food or water, finally her fight was over.  I was not relieved that she passed, I was relieved that she was no longer struggling.  It was her time.  She did it her way.  I believe that she passed on the day before Mother's day so that I could go home to my kids.  She did it for me and for them.  I had not seen my kids for four days prior to her passing and my heart was hearting for her, and hurting missing them.  She knew that.  She felt that.  She knew it was time.

Her last words to me three days before......Love you, too.  Barely mumbling it out, but I knew what she said.  Perfect words from a perfect woman who left behind a legacy no one can touch.  Memories that will be forever in my heart, in photographs, and embedded in our family's minds.  She will not soon be forgotten, nor will I ever stop crying over the loss of my mother.  With days going by, it gets harder, only because I was in 'fight mode', protection mode, mother mode for ten days making sure she was not in pain and rolling her in her bed every two hours to make her comfortable.  I am slowly letting go of the fear I had built up for those ten days, but I think there is a long road ahead of me.

I have so many stories to share and so many memories for another time and another entry on this blog.  I am not done with this blog by any means just because she is gone.  She was and IS my hero and I will love and honor and write about her always.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

No clever title to be had today

I sat here for a minute or two trying to think of a catchy title for this blog post.  I got nothing.  It's been THE longest and shortest three days ever.  Mom is still with us and hanging on.  I would say at this point 98% of her day is spent unresponsive.  Laying peacefully in her hospital bed in her living room surrounded by her possessions, the love and prayers of family and friends.  Most of her day and night her face is peaceful, calm, serene, free of worry lines.  Coming faster and closer in between are the bouts of pain that pop up through the morphine.  She has her own subtle way of telling us she is hurting.  Scrunching up her forehead and creasing her eyebrows.  We can get her to shake her head yes or no most times to tell us whether or not she is in pain.  there are times during the day that her eyes will pop open as much as she can get them open, catch a glance of me or her sister or her hubby, and she cracks a smile.  Makes it all worth it.  Every bedside moment, every smile I catch, every eye opening event puts me a little more at peace.  I don't have time to write an enormous blog post about each and every experience we have had in the last three days, because, well, I would be here forever.  Mom doesn't have forever.  She's not even guaranteed tonight.  So I won't waste a lot of my time babbling about her pain and pressure wounds and blisters and bed sores.  They're all there.  They suck.  She doesn't even realize she has them.  I'm good with that.

As the hours pass, I reminisce about every waking moment I have had with her.  Like the time where she whooped my tail for acting sick and trying to vomit because I did NOT want to go in the deep end during swimming lessons.  I remember the times that she took me camping.  Fishing.  She sat in the stands at my ball games.  She was present for the birth of each and every child of mine.  I remember when she was diagnosed.  I remember the pain I felt then, but it pales in comparison to right now.

I will leave it at that, and go back to be with her.  She needs me and I need her and I will do everything in my power to ease her transition into Heaven.  I have told her it was o.k. to go.  Most difficult thing I have EVER done in my entire 39 years.  I will give more updates when time allows.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fifth straight day...

Every day since Sunday Hospice had been making visits to see my mom.  Obviously there is a reason for that.  Just last week the visits were twice a week.  Oh how far we have come.  I have been there with her every single day, helping her get up and down, learning the needed skills from Hospice to make my Mom's life more comfortable.  We are learning to pick her up using a belt around her waist, learning to crush medications, forced to become comfortable with injectable meds when the time comes that she is no longer able to swallow.  I am becoming accustomed to what time she takes her meds, what meds are critical at certain times, and what meds to add in for break through pain.  I have recently become familiar with what a 'pressure wound' is.  If you would have asked me four days ago, I would have no idea.  I know now.  Mom has a large pressure wound on her right heel.  It has about doubled in size in two days.  For those of you not familiar, a pressure wound is an injury cause by unrelieved pressure that damages the underlying tissues and skin.  Similar to a bed sore.  She has a very large bed sore, too.  On her left hip.  The difference between her pressure wound and bed sore is the sore is more of a large 'ouchie', a really bad skinned knee, road rash, something comparable to that.  The pressure wound on her hell is just a very large blister, no scabbing, just full of fluid.  She honestly didn't know she had EITHER of them, which tells me she certainly isn't feeling too much because these 'ouchies' hurt me just to look at them.  I guess that means the pain meds are doing their job?  Or is it that she is just so unaware of the little things in life that we make a big deal out of?  like blisters and skinned up knees?  Does she see beyond the small stuff and choose not to complain?  Trust me, this woman does NOT complain.  And she's dying.  Not a word.  Only time she ever mentions pain or swelling or stiffness or soreness is if I ask her.  Otherwise, nothing.  Not a word.  She spends her energy asking about the kids and my family.  That's just the way she is built.

Her thought process is seriously compromised right now.  You can talk to her and she will answer in one to two sentences at a time.  Not a lot.  There are some nonsense ramblings out of the blue that she says...like she is talking out loud all these things that are going through her head.  Some of her thoughts are precious.  When she looks at her husband and out of the blue says "Yes Michael you really do have pretty eyes".  Or when he is helping her out of her chair, she looks at him very disconcerting and says "Michael, you're losing weight."  Seriously?  Really?  She's concerned with her hubby losing weight?  Like I said, that's how she's built.  I am cherishing her 'out loud' thinking right now.  She's saying whatever she wants, no filter, no discretion, no warnings.  Brutal honesty.

We all are very aware that she may only have a few more good days of being alert and awake.  Already just in the last couple of days, her sleeping is increasing ten fold.  There will come a time where she will be difficult to get her to communicate with us, let alone get out of bed.  Therefore a hospital bed is being delivered Friday to put in the living room so she doesn't have to be stuck in the bedroom all day.  That marks another turning point for her.  She didn't ever want to get a hospital bed, but she did discuss with me not dying in her own bed.  For her own reasons.

Our Hospice nurse Amber, is a saint in my eyes right now.  I have told her at least three or four times in the last five days that she ALWAYS knows the right things to say to me and to mom and to Michael.  And she does.  She's obviously amazing at what she does and she was born to do what she does.  I would not want any other nurse taking care of my mother.  Amber puts things into perspective and always gives me different and appropriate ways to look at things.  She sheds a light on a subject in a way I would never consider.  It's heart touching to say the least that a nurse can have such a positive influence on my daily thinking.  And my Mother ADORES Amber.  She trusts her.  She loves her.  Just like she loves me.  Their relationship is one that we wish we never had to have and if we never met Amber, it would be because my Mom didn't have cancer and I would be ok with that.  She's in our life for a reason.  She's perfect.

I apologize for the rambling but once I get going, there are times I can't shut off my brain.  As for me, I think I am doing ok.  I don't sleep much, but I have plenty of time for that later.  Today my morning started off at 3:30am bright and early after going to bed around 1am.  One of these days I will crash.  Hard.  But for now we will keep plugging away and being thankful for each breath that she takes, thankful that I have my daughter's softball practices (helping coach) to let me escape for a few hours a week.  Need that.  Oh do I ever need that.  Last night practice was freezing cold, windy, and just downright miserable, but watching my lil redhead do THE best slides into second base was just what the doctor ordered.  I was so proud.  I was beaming.  I was SMILING.  I was happy.