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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

grief: my version.

My mom is dying.

She's laying in a hospital bed, three feet from me. Her days are quickly dwindling, her frail body ravaged from the relentless disease she's battled nearly, if not all of my entire life. We will have no more conversations, I will never again hear her laugh, and yet she's right next to me. I can't shake her from the medically-induced sleep she's slipped into over the past week. And while I've always been fairly certain that this would be the beast that robbed her life, knowing the facts hasn't prepared me much more than if she passed away suddenly. Nor has it readied me for watching her life slip away, hour by hour.

My mom is battling multiple sclerosis. She has shown symptoms of the condition since she was about 19 years old (average diagnosis age is 37). The disease is fairly common across the country--I'm sure you know someone or know of someone who struggles with MS... but I daresay that I've never witnessed an MS patient fare as my mom has.

I don't remember a time when she walked without help--be it a cane, walker, scooter, wheelchair. She's bounced from nursing home to nursing home in the past decade--mostly due to no one in my family being able to take her in and care for her on a daily basis. She's 45 years old. Nursing homes are obviously specialized for the older set--I've often wondered what being surrounded by sick elderly people has done to her mentally. I can't begin to imagine. She has often referred to herself as a burden, referring to how she can't take care of herself. Last spring, her legs were amputated due to loss of circulation and bed sores. As the past few months have wore on, her speech had completely faltered. She's been bedridden for about a decade.

I have long considered writing about her trials, because I know I'm not the only one with an ailing parent. I have struggled with what would be too much information, because the last thing in the world I want is to exhaust my mother of the little bit of dignity she holds. But believe me when I say, it is a vicious, heinous condition.

I think her condition hasn't been a challenge for me in ways that a third-party witness might think--my mom being sick is all I've ever known. And yet, in my early childhood days, as a SAHM-by-default, she always had dinner on the table before 6 pm. We always had structure, we were always dressed impeccably, we were never short of love. When I hear friends retell stories of their childhoods, I am always silently impressed with my mom, knowing her body was so embattled with this disease, and yet she created as "normal" of an environment as possible. She was a constant fixture at our little league games--perched in her scooter, right behind the umpire, we went to church, she sat with us and did our homework on a daily basis.

I keep hearing from nearly everyone who enters her hospice room, how much I look like her, how proud she is of her kids, and how much of a fighter she is. Her kidneys failed last Monday. I was called at lunch on my workday, and told she wouldn't make it through the day. I couldn't get out of Nashville yet, so I decided to wait to hear more... days passed. She was still here, still holding on. Wednesday: she was responsive, attempting to talk, eyes open. Another day passed, again I heard she wouldn't make it through the night. I stepped onto a plane Sunday, and I've been here ever since. She hasn't improved. She won't be healed from this, on this earth. Last week, I heard myself uttering something that I can't get out of my mind: "my worst days aren't even close to what is her best."

There's a constant battle being fought in my heart. I don't want my mom to die, but I can't expect her to wake up and laugh her familiar laugh. I know her petite body is so, so very tired. We are now nine days past the day that was claimed to be her last--and she's still here. Fighting. I want her suffering to cease, so badly. I want peace for her, and more than anything, for her to know the depths of which she is loved. How much she has taught me, is still teaching me. How much I wish things had been different--how I wish she had never been stricken with this disease... how many silly conversations I'd spark up with her, things I won't get the chance to talk about with her.

It's impossible for me to feel the Christmas spirit. My mom has had a difficult life, to state the obvious and to say the least. And in her final hours, I listen to the soft whistle of her breath, and earnestly pray that she isn't hurting right now. I pray I haven't let her down as a daughter. I pray I have the resolve to never squander another minute of this life, putting off a decision to do X, Y or Z, because I'm not in the mood. Errands as simple as running to Sonic for her beloved Dr. Peppers, or even the task of driving were taken from her years ago. I am furious this week, reading whiny tweets and Facebook posts--please remember what matters. Losing that prime parking space at the mall, or not being able to buy that gift you wanted, or running out of time to bake those signature cookies?? It doesn't matter. You won't remember any of it next month... don't waste time, precious time, worrying about it now. Just stop.

Thank you for your constant prayers and encouragement. Again, I am reminded of the dear friends I have in my corner. I am forever grateful for you thinking of me and my family right now.

I hope this week leading up to your Christmas is so full of love, and overflowing with lots of laughs and warmth. I have some scheduled posts I'll try to pop out here, but no guarantees... I'll be back here soon.


xo

12 comments:

  1. You are an amazingly strong person, Megan. You have one of the kindest most loving hearts and I am so lucky to be able to call you a friend. Your mom has a LOT to be proud of- you are a rare, rare person, friend.
    I know nothing we can say will take any of the pain and sadness you are feeling away but you are on my heart and in our prayers. You're never alone. xoxo

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  2. Oh, Meg. My heart just hurts on your behalf. I am praying for and thinking of you, your family, and your precious mom.

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  3. Megan, I am so sorry that you are going through this right now, right before Christmas. No one should have to experience this sort of pain. I am lifting both of you up in prayer.

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  4. Oh Megan. You are in my prayers. Your love for your mother is evident, and your care for her shows so much love. I will be praying for all of you. Thank you for being such a light in this world. I would bet your mom has that same sweet spirit. Love you!

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  5. Praying so so very hard for you, friend!!!!! I love you!! I know your Momma is so very proud of you. You two are lucky to have each other!!!!!! Specifically praying for your Mom, for complete healing, whether that be here on this earth or getting her healing in Heaven. My heart breaks for you!! You are an amazingly strong person and sounds like your Mom is, too. God will not leave your side for one second or your Mom's!!! Xo

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  6. Oh, Megan. Sweet, sweet Megan. I am so sorry for what your mother, you, and your entire family are facing. You are a daughter to be proud of, and I have no doubt she considers her days with you as blessed ones. You are all in my thoughts and prayers!

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  7. Meg, I'm so very sorry! You are a wonderful daughter and I will be praying for you and your family!

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  8. You are loved and your love for her is so loud, even in her sleep, I am so confident she can hear (and feel) it loud and clear. My prayers are with you, that He will cover you in peace and for her, that He will breathe comfort and peace into her, as well. --Marily

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  9. Megan, I can't begin to imagine how you're feeling right now. I know you're feelings are all over the place; from wanting her healed and here with you, to wanting her suffering to end. I'm so sorry, my friend.

    I don't know you well, but from the day I spent with you at lunch, to watching you interact with others on twitter and Facebook I know you have the biggest heart and are a great and loving friend. I am positive this is true for how you are as a daughter. I can't help but believe that you're mom is so very proud of you.

    Lots and lots of love and prayers.
    Mindy

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  10. This is so touching; I can't even begin to imagine what you're going through. However, I am sending thoughts and prayers your way and your moms way. All my love, Maria.

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  11. Oh sweet Megan. I had no idea.. My heart is absolutely breaking for you. Last Christmas, I sat with my Grandma as she was dying. Cancer stole her away and while I so badly longed for her to get better, I knew she wouldn't ever be healed on this earth. It doesn't make it any easier though. And this, you are such an amazing woman to put these thoughts into words. Your Mother must be so proud. There are no good things to say right now, but please know that I'm sending hugs and prayers your way. Love.

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