When we took my mom to the hospice there was this sort of expectation that we would have a peaceful, long goodbye for my mom. The brochures all have these pictures of old people in tranquil poses who are at peace, with their peaceful families. They are those sort of cartoon / lifelike drawings in rooms that are well lit with sunshine and lots of flowers.
I had this sort of mental picture of us kids having a chance to tell Mom how great of a job that she did, that she was a good mom, that she had raised good sons and that even though we would miss her desperately we would see her soon. I wanted her to know that she didn’t have to worry, that we would be OK because she raised us so well.
On TV that’s how it usually happens. You hold the persons hand, you tell them one last thing that you really wanted to say; they look at you, close their eyes and pass away.
It appears that, like much of this journey; that was wishful thinking.
They told us that the goal would be to get her comfortable, that we would manage her symptoms and allow this natural process to play out. I didn’t realize it at the time but the phrase “manage her symptoms” really meant get my mom stoned out of her mind. It was just one more euphemism to take the edge off of what is reality.
And so it was today that my mom has moved into what is called a medically induced coma. On one of the conference calls we had today we were told that her kidneys are failing and ultimately she would slip into a coma by this weekend if not sooner. Inducing it sooner is seen as an act of mercy. I had this sort of weird feeling. We were putting my mom to sleep.
It didn’t look like the pictures in the brochures or the movies, but I did get a chance to tell her many of the things I wanted to say. In between the painful moments last week I did have some time to hold her hand and tell her all the things that I wanted her to know. (including coming clean about streaking around the neighborhood with Troy Covey and Marcus Gonzales when I was 12) I’m just not sure how much she understood. She was in so much pain and so doped up.
It appears as though that the one thing I won’t get to say is goodbye. I was saving that one for the exact right time. (Again with the movies) When I left on Saturday I thought we had a few more weeks, I had planned to come back and say that a little closer to the time of her passing.
She was in so much pain, she was so afraid, so ridden with anxiety. Nobody could come up with a good reason for her to be told that we were doing this. She was slipping into a coma anyway. For the most part the toxins in her body combined with the morphine caused her to not understand what was going on. There was a moment this afternoon that she decided to get out of bed because she needed a loaf of bread.
As anticlimactic as it seems, they gave her some pills this afternoon and she went to sleep. She never even knew. Tonight she sleeps. She’ll sleep from here on out.
Her soul is locked in there somewhere but it will linger until her body says goodbye. I keep telling myself that this is the right thing and in my mind I know it is. But in my heart, I’m missing someone that is still here. I just can’t find her. She’s hidden in plain site.
As with many stops on this journey medical science has provided circumstances that I’m not sure about. Her spirit is here, her soul is here, but they’re trapped. They’re waiting patiently on a body to let them go.