Monday, February 25, 2008

Needing Strength: An Update

An update to the post 'Needing Strength; Needing Mom,' by Anonymous.

It was really helpful to write this post when my mom was diagnosed and I thought it might help to post an update. My mom passed away the day after Thanksgiving after a torturous 2 1/2 months of "treatment". She opted to try a clinical trial since she had also seen her brother die from pancreatic cancer and wanted to help others. I was so proud of her and of course it was her decision to make, but looking back I really think the drugs expedited her decline. I have so many regrets and such extreme sorrow, it's sometimes hard to keep breathing. I feel bereft and unmoored and yet all I can do is keep moving every day.

My brother and sister and families came in for Thanksgiving and were staying at my house and we were hoping that my mom was going to be able to visit (she was in a care facility to get some IV antibiotics for a blood infection). Thanksgiving morning she was taken to the ER because she had chest pains. My sister, brother and I spent the whole day with her there and she because increasingly disoriented. We didn't know if this was because of the pain medication she was being given, her dehydration or that she was really declining. Our hospice organization sent a nurse and that was the first time someone said that she might not make it through the night. I was in utter shock. Against my better judgement, I was convinced to go home and eat dinner with our spouses. After dinner, I was getting ready to go back down to the hospital to spend the night with my mom. I was in the bathroom on the first floor when I heard screaming and my nephew shouting that Dusty had hurt Lily. Dusty is my sister's dog and Lily is my two year old daughter. I raced out of the bathroom to find that Dusty had bitten my daughter in the face because she was playing with a bone and Lily tried to take it. We called an ambulance and took her to the nearest hospital (not the one my mom was in). She had 6 stitches (luckily the dog had not gotten any of her major facial features, but she had puncture wounds in her cheeks). To say I felt like a horrible mother is an understatement. Of course, I spent that night at home with my daughter and my sister stayed with my mom (the dog went to my mom's house-that's a whole separate story). The next morning, my sister called at 6am and told us that we should get down to the hospital.

My mom died before we got there. I never got to say goodbye. The only thing I am thankful for is that she never knew that her beloved granddaughter had been hurt. I am trying to get back to "normal" becaues I feel like that's what is expected of me, but I feel like the world is incredibly unsafe. Every time I look at my sweet girl's face, I am reminded of everything that happened. She is a resilient and wonderful girl and will likely heal completely, but I still can't believe this happened to her and that my mom is really gone. Thank you for this forum - I am having a hard time sharing these things and feelings with the "real world".


Becky said...

Oh, I am so sorry. That must be so hard.


Kris said...

My sincere condolences for your loss. God bless your mom for undergoing a treatment that will teach doctors to better help others. You did what you had to do as a mom, as I'm sure your mom would have done for you. It's never easy to lose someone you love. My thoughts are with you.

flutter said...

Oh honey, I am so so sorry.

Omaha Mama said...

My daughter was bitten by a relative's dog when she was two. It was awful and I feared the worst. It's okay now, two years later. Take heart that you should not feel like a bad mom.

About your mom. I'm so sorry. I can't even pretend to know your pain, but I fear it. I fear the day that I am in the same situation. But here's what I wanted to maybe suggest to you. If writing about it helps and you haven't really wanted to share all of the feelings on your blog, maybe you should just get a journal. You can write the same thing there every day for ten days and no one cares. When you go back and read it, you can see progress. You can see the passing of time. Then if you write something really brilliant, you can post it here or on your blog. But on days when you just want to write swear words or let your tears drip on the page, the journal will be there. Maybe you would find it therapeutic. You could also use it to write a letter to your mom. I think the lack of closure sounds hard for you. I lost a dear friend on Thanksgiving Day to breast cancer and I didn't get to say goodbye. She was supposed to have two weeks and I was supposed to go up that Sunday. It didn't happen and I still struggle with that.

Good luck to you. And please don't feel bad that you don't feel "normal" yet. Really, what does that mean?

Anonymous said...

First off I'm so sorry you sweet girl was bit by the dog and I feel your pain for losing your mom. I lost mine four years ago in October. I can tell you I did not feel normal for over a year. It took me six months or more to work through the grief and I realize it was for the best know but the first year I was miserable. Take the time to grieve and let yourself feel. You will heal but that missing mom feeling is always going to be there. Take care

Anonymous said...

Thank you all for the kind words; reading your stories gave me hope and helped me feel less alone.
Omaha Mama - I'd love to hear more about how your daughter healed from her bite, I will see if you have an e-mail address on your blog.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry. How completely overwhelming that must have been, to have such terrible things happen so close together.

I'm glad the dog didn't bite your daughter in the eye or anything--not to minimize the fear and anger that you all probably felt. Even though it could have been worse, it still totally stinks.

Not knowing how you choose to grieve, I don't want to say anything too specific... except to suggest that although you didn't get to say goodbye to your mother, you can, if you want to, still talk to her as you go through your day. Many people find it helps.

Anonymous said...

Write your mom a letter.

For years I served as a facilitator in a group that put on self-encounter weekends for people with broken relationships. The weekend was a series of talks, small group talking, and culminated with the writing of a letter to the ex-relationship, gently closing the door on the relationship (gently because you might some day wish to open it again). It occurs to me that this could help with your agony over your mom's death. Tell her goodbye in a letter. Tell her you love her and miss her and will always think about her.

I'm having a bit of this sort of problem myself. My mom died nearly three years ago. She was always crazy, and not in a good way. She was chronically depressed, very immature, and very hard to be around for any length of time. When she became ill with colon cancer at 80, and the doctors felt that the surgery would kill her faster than the cancer, I knew the end was coming.

She lived in a nursing home near the town where I grew up. I lived 2000 miles away, and was in a terrible financial situation, I had moved across the country to be close to my children, and could not find a job and ended up taking early retirement and actually living on $850 a month. There was absolutely no way I could fly to see her.

For the last year or two, she'd decided that I never had anything to do with her. I guess she wanted the drama of the child who dumps her mother in a nursing home and deserts her. I don't know. The beginnings of Alzheimers blurred any common sense she'd every had. I wrote her cards several times a week, sent her small gifts...and still she insisted that I did not ever contact her.

In a rush of pique, I quit contacting her. To hell with that! No matter what I do, she is not going to acknowledge it, and it was certainly easier and cheaper to do nothing. So I ignored her. And suffered in my own depression of living in a one room apartment on an income far, far below poverty level, with rain 24/7.

I got the call that she was not expected to live through the night. And yet she lived, for three more weeks. The nurses all believed that she was waiting for me. And I sat 2000 miles away, not able to go to her, to hug her one more time and tell her I loved her.

I felt her spirit in my room with me the night she finally died. She forgave me, of course, she always forgave me. She was flawed, but she was still the only person in the entire world who absolutely, unconditionally loved me. Now I don't have that any more. I miss it, and I feel guilty.

I'm sorry, Mom.