One year ago yesterday, my mother died.
I’m remembering, second-guessing every decision.
Immediately after her fall and diagnosis of a brain tumor, she spent several weeks in a local nursing home. She was not safe for surgery at that point.
After the biopsy, she transferred to rehab where they encouraged her and worked aggressively with her. At the first conference, each team member laid out goals for the next week.
But then suddenly we were pressed for a transfer decision. They all knew something we didn’t. That the tumor was aggressively malignant.
They stole the hope they’d lavished. We hadn’t even talked with the doctor yet.
This morning I saw yet another ad for the Cancer Institutes of America. I think of my mom every time I see one. She asked about seeking treatment there. But I still remember the doctor who sat on her bed, his face drenched with compassion.
He spoke the words slowly.
She chose no treatment.
But should we have tried?
Where to go from here?
Back to her own home where Sissy and I would bear her care?
Back to her semi-private nursing home room around the corner from her house (where she often waited up to an hour for help)?
To the hospice house the doctor recommended down the road from the hospital but 30 miles from home where she’d have a large private room with an attentive staff–and a hot tub down the hall?
We dodged the discharge planner who hovered over us for an answer.
Finally we loaded her into a handicapped van and drove her to the hospice house for a look-see.
She chose to stay in this magic place.
And we (Sissy and Dad and I) moved in with her.
I treasure those last days.
How could we know the night they carried her to the ambulance, how could she know that was the last time she’d close the door. The last time she’d ever see her home again?
How could any of us know that she’d never again sleep in her own bed, have a cup of coffee and nibble my dad’s pork-and-bean bread at her own table, smoke a cigarette indoors, or organize papers in her office?
She didn’t even get to say goodbye.
I bought her a hippopotamus pillow pet she christened Doc H.
Toward the end she re-named it Doc Do Nothing.
Sissy and I were with her when her spirit separated with a shudder and flew home.
One year ago yesterday, my mother lived.
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. ~1 Thessalonians 4:13 (NIV)