Saturday, September 28, 2013

Nearing the end

Last night, about 30 minutes after I got home, just after my husband and I finished our late dinner, my phone rang.  I knew immediately it wasn't good news, because it was my dad calling.  And considering that it was around 10:30 p.m. Eastern, my heart just sank. 

Dad told me that it looks like my mom's cancer fight is nearing its end. She is rarely awake for more than a few minutes, is barely eating or drinking, and gets very agitated when asleep, crying out for her mom often.  The hospice nurse doesn't expect that Mom will be with us for more than a few weeks.

I had thought that, seeing as how I have been bracing myself for this part of Mom's journey for four years (the four-year mark of hearing the word "cancer" is on Wednesday) that it would be easier, less painful.

I was wrong. The long, slow trudge toward the end is no less painful, no less devastating because I knew it was coming.

Please pray for us.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." ~James 1:5

Wisdom is one of those things that we desperately need right now.  Everything just seems so uncertain.  The biggest question in my mind right now is: when do I need to go be with Mom?  It's not an easy question to answer.  My brother, grandparents, uncle, as well as another aunt & cousin have all gone to see Mom since she went on hospice care. I'm one of the only ones to not be there at all. 

I live a good 3 days' drive or one long day of at least two flights away. I don't have any vacation time and don't really have any personal time to speak of for job #1/2, and we don't have the ability financially to go anyway.  So the question becomes: do I go now while Mom's still aware and still has time left, or do I have to wait until it's the very end to say goodbye? I have no idea what to do.

From what I have gathered from Dad, Mom is definitely in a decline.  The hospice nurse confirmed that Dad was seeing what he thinks he was seeing.  Obviously no one can say, "that means you have exactly 4 weeks left," but she did confirm that it looked like Mom was starting the stage where patients begin to withdraw and food becomes less important, and the weakness is bad enough that she can't get up and down or walk on her own any more.

This has sent me into a bit of an emotional tailspin.  I read a short booklet (really, a long pamphlet, as it was only about 16 pages long) that called what I'm experiencing "Anticipatory or Expected Grief."  Apparently, it's common for families living with a family member in hospice care.  It's exactly what it sounds like - grieving for the expected loss before it actually occurs.  The pamphlet described it well - rehearsing the death of your loved one in your mind, feeling intense guilt because society expects that you only grieve for a short time after the fact, experiencing all the physical symptoms of grief but feeling a need to hide the pain for fear of others thinking that you somehow want your loved one to be gone already, and questioning how you will move forward after the eventual loss.

The pamphlet didn't really give me any ways to cope with this grief - which I've been dealing with for just under four years now.  (It will be four years since we first heard the diagnosis of "cancer" on October 3rd; it will be four years since the diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer on October 16th.) But at least it made me feel like I'm not completely insane... says the woman who completely broke down within the first five minutes of our church service this morning and spent most of the sermon trying to recover her composure.

Anyway, wisdom is definitely needed these days.