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Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Journey with Mom

I arrived in California late Wednesday night after a long trip.  For some reason the long haul just took forever and then I had an unexpected 3 hour delay in Dallas.  It was good to get home, even though it was after 11.00 pm on the west coast, 8.00 a.m. the next day on my body clock.  My mom was in good spirits.  I was looking forward to a shower and a good night of sleep which did ensue.  The weekend has been good and hard.  After being here for one day, it was obvious that my decision to come was the right one.  Whatever moments of rally my mom has left in her are short-lived and even her best days are just not very good anymore.  The pain of the cancer has created a scenario where my mom is now forced to live in a morphine induced state which is obviously quite mind altering.  She is still the same sweet, caring person that has always shaped her life but now she is also struggling with the side effects of the morphine which is most profoundly manifesting in chatter about some things real, other things imagined.  She is frail.  She is not eating much at all.  Her mouth has broken out with thrush-like symptoms so there is much pain in eating and drinking.  Not a good thing for someone who is already struggling to eat and drink anything at all.  She is sometimes frustrated that her choices are now quite limited.  She is still getting out of bed each day and, assisted by a walker and either myself or my father, manages to make her way out to the living room where she spends the entire day in her comfortable recliner, watching TV with us, attempting to eat something, sometimes lost in a world that isn't entirely connected to reality. She has a hard time walking later in the day so just getting her from the living room to the bathroom to the bed is quite a challenge.  The walker she uses has a seat as well but getting up and down is also quite a challenge.   Moving her is increasingly hard for my father and I wonder how these next weeks will continue to unfold.
I am so thankful that I listened to my initial instincts to come.  I am able to manage the cooking and the shopping, be present when my dad needs to get out to run errands, and help with getting mom from one room to another.
At this point, it is sweet to sit with her, to encourage her, to try to help her separate fantasy from reality, to assist my father and to simply be present for this part of this long journey.  I am praying for mercy to enfold my mom at this point.  This is not the way she wants to live.  Vibrancy has always been a hallmark of how my mother lived and so to see her struggle through each day without this is tough.  Even so, her joy, her sweet spirit, her laughter, her concern for others, it's all still there and manifesting in small ways.
It is 4.00 a.m. in California as I write this.  The combination of my mom's frail condition and jet lag have me awake with concern.  I am not worried or panicked or even overwhelmed by sadness at this point.  Mostly I just want my mom to feel free to let go of this amazing life that she has lived and go to her eternal rest where God and anyone else who has known her will proclaim with great enthusiasm, well done my good and faithful servant.  Until that day arrives however I am very glad to be here to walk beside both her and my father as we seek to embrace each new day that we're given together.