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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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