Wednesday, March 29, 2017
The Waiting Game
This has been a week of intense emotional roller coasters and I have noticed the parallels of coming in and leaving this earth. I recall being the observer of my daughter's pregnancies and watching and being with her as the contractions came closer and became more intense but birth was not yet happening. It feels as though I have danced a similar waltz with my mama numerous times over this last three years. From arriving in Calgary to the hospital in April 2014, holding her hand as she maneuvered through a landscape of delirium and confusion to this past week, sitting bedside counting breaths as she disappeared deeply beyond contact for long spells. Death, it seems, is as unpredictable as birth and there is great drama and anxiety to both.
After all of us showered her with love and said our farewells this past few days, she is brighter this morning and the medical team is trying a Hail Mary pass of antiobiotics and prednisone to see if she will once again step back from the brink. Given my experience with her, it may well work. I am left sitting here at the library contemplating what seem to be horrible thoughts. Why? Why put her through that? As her representative, I can say no but that was not my response this morning. Why not was my answer. You never know, she might live to see another spring and enjoy the birds and the old Westerns on tv for another few months (or years).
Sure enough, in the day that passed since beginning this, my mom has rejoined the land of the living and is sitting up talking about getting her hair done on Friday. As I said to the social worker, as I left this afternoon, I feels as though I have run a marathon this week and I am awkwardly explaining to people that my mom has not, in fact, died this week and yes, I will be completing the obligations and assignments that were put on hold as we held a death watch by her bed. The social worker said it is kind of like saying goodbye to someone and then realizing you are both walking the same direction. When is saying farewell and letting go premature?
And as I contemplate the places my inquiring mind took me this week, I have this awful sense of guilt for wishing it was over, for encouraging my mom to leave and reminding her that we have this, we will be okay. I wouldn't wish the obvious discomfort and struggle this past week on a family pet, but for some reason, we think we have to keep our loved human beings alive beyond all reason. My brother insisted that he knew it wasn't her time, and perhaps he was right. I feel like a terrible daughter considering that if I had been given the option this week, I would have chosen to assist her in passing over. Because this doesn't have a fairy tale ending. She is not going to suddenly be hale and hearty. It takes 5 litres of oxygen pumped right through a full mask to keep her from turning blue. The wear and tear on her body will eventually overcome her spirit. I have said for the past three years that I would wave a magic wand and have her slip away comfortably watching an episode of Gunsmoke. Isn't that what the physician-assisted death is all about?
My mother has never been comfortable with a conversation about the end. Even in her delirium, she is certain that she has done something wrong to be in this state. She has never wanted to face the terms of her death and has avoided any talk of that for as long as I can remember. So even with some legal rights to choose for her, I can't honestly say that I would be following her wishes to apply for the process to end her life by choice. Which of course, has me deliberate over what decisions I need to make and have prepared for my family. Time to get on with putting that down on paper!
This remains a mystery to me, this end game. I am, as my son suggested, remaining curious and observing the wonder of it all. Today, I am grateful for a little more time with my mama, laughing and sharing how much we love each other. And that is enough.