The oncologist's office is sterile and cold. I feel fortunate I've never had to go there for myself.
For my mom, this office has been a weekly destination for the last 9 months. Today, June 13th 2017, the hopes of overcoming and living past the lung cancer wane, as the oncologist reads a list of new organs the cancer has invaded, the thyroid, pancreas, abdomen, pelvis, liver, bones...
I felt a cold numbness overcome me after the 3rd new organ. The room was silent, though the doctors mouth was moving speaking of other lesions found in more areas of the body.
I felt a tear run down my face, I couldn't breath, I was frozen. The oncologist handed me the kleenex.
How do they stay so poised, the cancer doctors, as they read the sentence of death to someone.
There was no emotion, no concern. A dry delivery of the information that
her time alive is limited. The horrific 9 months of chemo and radiation hadn't worked to stop the cancer.
I looked over at mom. She sat back in her seat with a big exhale. Michael her long time partner and me, an emotional wreck. Mom, poised and collected, as usual for her, asked: So what does this mean? How long do I have?
"2 months", the oncologist said... though there is a shot
that may prolong life for another few months, but there are side effects.
Mom nodded. She looked over at us, her pain was for our sadness. I think she already knew...
she didn't seem surprised by the results.
Watching her dad, my grandpa, pass away from colon cancer at 94, and then her husband passing from prostate cancer 13 years ago, I think she knew the signs.
She was way more prepared than Michael or I.
For the rest of Tuesday, we cried and hugged and cried. We talked about God.
We did pros and cons about getting the shot.
I frantically got in the kitchen to make vegetable soup. If I could get enough good food in her, maybe....maybe if I could get her on something alternative...my mind races with possibilities to save her. Is there something, anything, I can do?
She's been throwing up her food since the radiation to the esophagus. Because of the thickness
of the scar tissue, the opening was smaller than a dime. In a normal esophagus the opening is as big as a half dollar. So to get food down, she has to go to another doctor and have surgery to stretch her scarred esophagus out so she can swallow. Another lovely side effect of radiation.
This Tuesday, my life changed. I feel I passed through a threshold
My first parent would be leaving this world.
My mom and I had a rocky journey together. You can read about it here...
I called her today. She sounded far away, as if language was something she had to grasp for by
rallying energy and focus in order to speak.
I feel a sinking in my gut. Is this real. How do I live when something
I feel so much love for is slipping away. How do I manage myself, my mind my emotions.
I think about what I'm grateful for.
During my last visit, when she was in the throws of chemo,
I arrived from Texas, at her house in Florida, late.
I did not expect to see her until the morning.
She heard me and got out of bed to give me a hug.
This particular hug I'll remember the rest of my life.
We were simply two hearts coming together as one.
I felt nourished, replenished, loved.
I loved this woman, my mom, my friend, my companion.
My mind wanted to complain. Why did I wait so long to love and be loved by my mom? Why was I a rebellious teenager, running away, wanting to get as far from my mom as possible?
Why now, when our time is limited, do I want to cling to her, as if making up for all the time I was gone?
My mind struggles with the inevitable breakdown of her body.
I will miss her. I will miss her smile and the way she looks at me, lovingly and adoringly.
A mother loving her daughter, a daughter being filled by the love of her mother.
I am grateful for this time we do have together.
Whether 2 weeks or 2 months or even longer, every exchange, every moment
is a gift which I gratefully accept.
As I was lying in bed with my mom, her awareness coming in and out, working off the anesthesia
from the surgery to stretch her esophagus,
I reflected out loud: "Well, you birthed me into a body, and here we are birthing you back into spirit."
She glows when talking about "the big adventure".
This is when I realize she's ahead of us. She has a preparedness about her.
There's a sense of peace.
She's free from the struggle to live.
She can relax now and live out her days.
There's a beautiful transparency in her conversation.
I notice that the characteristics which bugged me as a young adult are falling away.
The need for a facade, the need to uphold social graces, the outer image of her life, are no longer the focus.
In it's place, an inward resting, a focus on love.
Whether it's me, my brothers, her partner Michael, her grand baby from Michaels youngest daughter, her friends or her garden, her inner light is growing stronger.
Her love is powerful and tender.
When she goes to bed this night, I can't help to run into her room multiple times to make sure she is breathing.
I wasn't sure if I'd see her the next day.
The next day she was up and at her computer and taking care of business.
This is when I learned...there are good days and bad days.
The "end of life adventure" is a rollercoaster.
When she's up and moving , I want to drink her up.
I want to hear what her thoughts are, feel what she's feeling.
Is she comfortable? Can she feel the cancer eating her up?
Is she scared?
I have to ask.
She says she can feel it but she couldn't really explain what it feels like.
We were both quiet, sitting together on her back porch, her favorite place to be
if she isn't in the garden.
On this same back porch, she watched her 2nd husband die 13 years ago.
My emotions are spinning like a slipping gear shift. I'm having a hard time.
Did I do enough, could I have done something more? If I was more focused on her health or tried harder to support her in changing her lifestyle habits, would this still be happening?
I was sad. I didn't know if she had a good life. I wasn't a part of it for 20 years. Had she been happy? Can she say she had a good life?
I wish I had been more successful and been able to buy a new car for her or a new house.
Suddenly I felt overwhelmed in wanting to give mom everything she ever wanted.
I wanted her to be surrounded by beauty, by love and by happiness.
I wanted her to see flowers everyday, to know how deeply she is loved
and to feel happy that we got to share this physical life together.
My goal over the next few months is to travel to Florida and see mom as often as I can. The reality is that I have less than $20 in my checking account. I have no other streams of income other than when I am doing massage at my workplace. I have no insurance that covers things like this.
I am asking for help to raise money so I can: 1) buy another plane ticket and 2) be able to miss work for a period of time (4-6 weeks), and still pay my bills.
Please consider contributing to my fundraiser either by simple donation or by buying a piece of original art.
My goal is to have enough money raised to spend as much time as possible with my mom while she's still here.
Thank you so much!
3907 Medical Parkway #102