Confession time. During the past few weeks, it’s occurred to me more than once, that I kinda wish my mum had passed on. Not cause I want her to die but because I knew the kind of family crap that was going to surface in the interim. I just wanted it done. Like ripping off a band-aid. I can operate on all 4 cylinders, grace under pressure, that’s me. But I can only do it for so long. Then the wheels will come off, one at a time. All the questions about how long she has left, the realization that despite all the dramatic pronouncements she shows no signs of shuffling off this mortal coil any time soon, the funeral plans, the constant updates, the phone calls, ohmigod the phonecalls, the texts, the Pain Olympics that went on with my sisters, my husband co-opting my anger, my father threatening to show up (where there’s a will, there’s relatives), the juggling of family needs and schedules, the driving (oh, the driving) the guilt, the fatigue, unpacked boxes and the hours flying by, that drawn own weariness that sets in when the adrenaline is spent, that vague sense of loss that has haunted me for 9 years… oh the complexities of human reality. No, I told my niece, life isn’t fair. It’s just life. I stopped asking, “why?” a long time ago.
I stopped by a friend’s place before I went home from seeing mum the other night and she shared with me her terrible weekend. I hugged her and cried for all her stress and worry and then she asked me about my day and I told her that I (along with my sister) had planned my mother’s funeral. And we broke up in laughter. That’s probably why we’re friends. My husband and I giggled over the air miles promotion the funeral home had on cemetery purchases. That’s probably why I married him.
Just a month ago, it was status quo with my mum, as it had been for years. Bits and pieces of her dropping away with the dementia, but we had always found a way to connect, to find our moments as mother and daughter. Then she’s in the hospital and it’s she’s not going to make it, no, she’s fine, nope, back to being on her deathbed. And now it’s kind of weird, it feels like I’m keeping vigil even though I she’s eating and drinking and is the same as she was a month ago. Her body is wasting, and she’s at an operational level of a 11 month old with a long, friggin’ memory. Okay, maybe even a little better with tweaking of the mental health meds to keep her from hollering too much. I could tell she really enjoyed having my sister here for the week, keeping her company and playing music and sermons. Each of us has their own perspective of this whole journey. Each one is valid. I’m trying to create value despite my own issues.
I’m back to that space when she first had a stroke and the first thing on my mind in the morning was her and the last thought I had before going to sleep was her. How could I find the way to fix her? Yet now, I am no longer under the illusion that I can fix her. That I can rescue her. At least she’s not in pain. I’m truly grateful for that.
I wonder if she knows why she’s getting all this extra attention from everybody. Would it make a difference to her? Every now and again, she sings a few words from a song, her voice shaky but still strong. She looks at me and nods her head. I was trying to show her a picture on my phone and she put up her hand and cried out, no, no, no. She didn’t want her picture taken. Still vain. An awareness of how she looked. Mum’s still in there.