Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Keep Fighting

The next morning I was helping mom in the bathroom and as I got her to stand up but her legs gave out.  We had a controlled fall to the bathroom.  Several people were around and we were able to get mom to the floor.  She was in agony.  She cried and was not able to speak fully which just added to the horror of what was happening.  As she went to the floor I shouted for someone to call 911. Within ten minutes they were there.  Within the hour the family was gathered at the hospital and mom was in the ER, tired, in pain, and receiving morphine. 

The journey will never end like you plan it.  We all want to plan it but it will never end that way.  Circumstances and laws of nature and of biology will rule for a little while longer.  As I write this I can't fight the tears. I am remembering the events of the past five days and the pain is unbelievable yet pale in comparison to moms.  As a family we decided that in-patient hospice was the only reasonable option.  By 2:00 that afternoon I was riding in the ambulance, in the back, holding moms hand, as we headed to St. Mary's Hospital Ozaukee County, 2nd floor, room 208, in the Horizon Hospice Center.

We have gathered around her bed three times now thinking we were witnessing her departure.  We each said goodbye and all held her hands and feet and sat and stood in silence waiting for the divine to intervene.  Each time she rallied back. 

We are witness to sooooo many acts of grace and mercy by God the Father.  First, my father has struggled to know what's happening.  He has believed Mom is here but we will take her home with us in a few days.  He worries about what's for dinner, where his jacket is, and a million other things except his wife in bed.  He loves her but he's not aware of the powerful moment we are all in.  Last night he became combative and upset mom to the degree that my sister-in-law agreed to take him back to his home, back to some sense of normal, to sleep and rest.

This morning on their way in I put my arm around my Dad, we have small talk about how he slept, how the dog was, and what he ate for breakfast.  Here's the end of the conversation:

Kurt:  Dad, do you know where we are right now?
Dad:  Yeah, in a hospital somewhere.
Kurt:  Yes we are.  I don't mean to sound silly to you but do you remember why we are here?
Dad:  Your mother is sick and we're hoping to take her home in a few days when she's better.
Kurt:  Dad, we have talked for a couple of days, and Mom is not coming home. 
Dad:  I'm holding on to hope and believe that she is.
Kurt:  Dad, hope is one thing but I need you to share with me if you know that her coming home is not reality.  Reality is that Mom is dying and she is not leaving this hospital alive.
Dad:  (beginning to weep)  I know, son.  I know. (He pulls me in closer to his side)  I just hate it.
Kurt:  I do too, Dad.  Let's go in and you spend time with Mom and tell her how much you love her.

He got it today.  We witnessed Dad at Mom's bedside many times today.  Each time we left the room for them to be alone.  Tonight as Dad said goodnight and started to go back home, he leaned in to kiss Mom's forehead.  Her hand slowly reached up for his and he took it.  She managed to say, "1,2,3...1,2,3"  I knew what she meant so I reminded Dad of his night time ritual when kissing mom goodnight...forehead, nose, chin, then lips to seal the deal.  Mom said, "again"...so he did...then Mom said, "faster"...so he did...then Mom said, "faster" and he did and this time they kissed for a few moments.  When he pulled away she was smiling and patted the side of his face.  Then just as quickly she dropped in to unconsciousness again.

She has been going in and out for two days now.  Her breathing is very slow.  If we were to hold our breath that long we simply could not.  It scares us and we all habitually watch for signs of her next breath.

Parts of her body are now cold to the touch.  Her cheeks and neck, her forearms, and her knees.  Yet another sign she is preparing to depart - or rather God is preparing her to come home.

The other sign of grace and mercy is that Mom is completely aware of her surroundings and is able to communicate with us.  Rarely through words like with Dad, typically through sign language.  I am typically aware of what she wants only because I have been her caregiver for so long.  Tonight she patted her face and I knew she wanted moisturizer.  I spoke to her while I my hands gently rubbed the lotion on her cheeks, neck, chin, and forehead.  Her skin is remarkably beautiful and soft to the touch.  She smiled and sighed a sigh of relief for receiving the wonderful moisture rich lotion. 

There are moments of grace and mercy all around us and I pray that I am able to remember all of them.  I pray that we are all as fortunate as Mom to leave this world relaxed and with our minds in tact and aware.  My Mom is an amazingly beautiful person inside and out and so far her journey from this life to the next is so beautiful. 

The doctor tells us that it could be several hours or as much as two or three days.  We are committed to being here. I remind Mom each day that I made a promise to her and I will fulfill it completely. 

This afternoon the family gave me time alone with Mom.  I sat on her bed, then laid on her chest for awhile as her hand came to my face and held my cheek.  We stayed like that for about fifteen minutes or so.  Like we have done during this three year journey and earlier in our life.  I love you Mom.  And as you continue to fight with courage and amazing humor, remember always that you are adored.

No comments: