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Posts Tagged ‘Alive Hospice’

It’s been a year, exactly …5:38am, as I sit here, since my mother passed away. I think the anticipation of such an anniversary has been burdensome. I phoned friends and emailed friends to remind them of this date and to be prepared in case I “needed” them. I’m not really one who likes to “need” people — I’ve always thought it showed a bit more weakness than I wanted. So, I’m not sure what this day will hold, really. But I remember, at 5:38am, when my sister called from the Alive Hospice facility downtown.

Both my sisters had spent the night there with my mother — I was too tired at that point. Too tired to sleep, too tired to be there, too tired to watch my mother drift away one last night. I knew why the phone was ringing (I also know that the sun is going to set everyday, but that doesn’t keep me from longing for it to warm my face just a little longer). Nothing good ever comes out of a 5:38am phone call, but, I answered it just the same. I collapsed on a bean bag on the floor when I heard the words spoken — overcome, confused… my body and my mind had parted ways briefly. I was already dressed, in anticipation, so I gathered myself and went to be with her, one last time…

My mother was a magazine person. She had books too, lots of books. But, typically, the magazines were so plentiful that she kept a large portion of them teetering in two stacks on a coffee table in her house. If you nudged the coffee table ever so slightly, the stacks would fall — I picked up those damn magazines more than once.

When she moved in with me, the magazines came too — they were a set. I had resisted the need to ever subscribe to magazines as an adult — the occasional kids mag and a cooking mag were all I cared to have. But, with the addition of my mother also came the addition of those magazines. I enjoyed reading them (as a side note, I read magazines from back to front — I don’t know why, always have… if you can enlighten me on this quirk, please do), she picked good magazines — there was always just so many of them. I have no idea how long of a subscription she paid for in advance — a year now, and they haven’t stopped arriving in the mail. Some every week, some once a month — all with her name on the label.

I don’t know what the day will bring. I’m sitting here in the same bean bag that held my collapsed body a year ago. I’ll push the publish button on this story and I’ll wake my kids for school. I’ll prepare their breakfast and help them organize their bags. I’ll go to work and I’ll talk to people and I’ll laugh with people and I’ll move on. Because no matter how much I want time to stand still or to even just slow down for a second so I can catch my breath — it won’t. My journey didn’t end a year ago. My journey continues — and hopefully, my North Star will allow me to see it. Maybe I’ll use those “lifelines” to phone a friend and just say “hi”. And they’ll know the real reason is because I needed them — just needed them — and that will be ok, because sometimes we just need a little distraction to remind us to move on.

But for now, for right now this morning…my journey is going to start with reading an interesting article in one of these damn magazines.

And now, enjoy this clip from one of my mother’s favorite movies and one of her favorite songs… Edelweiss (sung by one of the all-time sexy men!)

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Out Like A Lamb

It’s March, finally. March is a weird month — it’s like the bridge between the harsh cold winter and the fresh breath of spring.

I never really understood the saying — in like a lion, out like a lamb — I mean, I understood that it was about the weather of March. But, was that all?

Last March came in like a lion for me. I was the lion actually. I paced. I stalked. I roared.

I was busy with doctor appointments and chemo schedules and follow-up visits and home care visits for my mother. I approached it all like a lion protecting the pride during the droughts on the savanna — I had a plan, I stalked, I kept a vigil. Cancer is a formidable opponent. It’s sneaky. It has many hidden weapons. It lies low until it catches you off guard. I called the doctor many times –frustrated, angry, tired, questioning his credentials, questioning his policy on older cancer patients.

By mid-March, my mother was unable to walk for long distances and once again, needed a wheelchair. She was unable to eat. She was unable to venture outside the house. I placed a baby monitor in her room so I could hear her at all times — she needed help to the bathroom, she needed water, she needed medicine.

Life is a full circle.

The doctor turned her care over to Alive Hospice by the third week in March. They came here to explain to us — explain death. Nurses came, and a minister, and others that I don’t remember what their purpose was. There were medications, lots of medications — and paperwork. My mother was still coherent at that point with brief bouts of confusion — she and I signed her DNR order. That was on a Tuesday.

By Friday, she was increasingly less coherent. The family came over to spend time. That night, the kids filed into her bedroom one by one to say goodnight and goodbye. She was restless that night and began to lose consciousness. Her eyes were glazed — as if either I was dreaming and couldn’t focus on her well or she was dreaming — I don’t know which. But, I stayed on the couch closer to her — with the baby monitor under my head.

On Saturday, she was mostly sleeping. I tried to get her to eat and drink but she couldn’t. I wondered if it was time to make the call to Hospice. That night she was restless and incoherent. I remember someone I worked with taught me a saying — “there’s no there there”. That saying was all I could think of as I watched her that night.

By three that morning, I knew I had to make the call — but I waited, still.

By seven that morning, I called the nurse to come help me make the decision.

By eight that morning, the nurse made the call for the ambulance.

And we marched, out of the house — it was Sunday — a few days from the end of the month. My roar was gone. I was weak. I was tired.

I understand the saying now. Last year, I witnessed March coming in like a lion. I witnessed me, roaring back for a while. This March, I feel more like the lamb…waiting. You can be led around more easily when you’re the lamb, no one expects you to roar when you’re the lamb, you’re more receiving when you’re the lamb — being the lamb is far less tiring.

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