Sunday, August 17, 2008

I need to go to bed. It's after 1 a.m. But I had to write here, in case I have some closet cases reading here. My absence of the past month hasn't been for personal choice. 29 or 30 or 31 days ago (I can't remember because I am past exhuastion), my mom was hospitalized, and she passed away a little over 24 hours ago. We weren't expecting it to happen. Until Tuesday evening, I thought things were sort of hunky dory, even though I also knew they weren't. But that's when the turn happened. And as Yeats or whoever the hell wrote "the Second Coming" (I'm on my second well-deserved glass of wine thank-you-very-much), things fall apart and the center cannot hold. She went downhill fast.
In the end, she had leukemia - a non-treatable variety. I think she had a strain of accute (acuute? It's the wine making me not spell) lymphatic leukemia. But to add to her troubles, she was mentally confused or plain hallucinatiing on and off for the past few weeks. And we still dont' know why.
33 days ago, we went to visit my parents. It was strange that we even did because we were really busy and all this shit was going on but I ended up with the day off work and I wanted to make a point of taking baby up to see them since they hadn't seen him in a while. When we got there, the site I saw I will never forget. My mom was white as a ghost. She said her back was out and couldn't get out of her chair. She was mentally confused and foggy. It was horrible. She looked like death.
So we left there rattled and not saying anything to each other. Oh, and remember, my dad is in a state of Alzheimers so when we were leaving and my mom said she was starving and wanted Wendys (my mom who HATED fast food), and then my dad not knowing where Wendys was, I took him there and got them food, and then proceeded to Safeway for groceries and made them a big batch of homeade chicken noodle soup and beef stroganoff and noodles, and dropped it off to them, because being the Jewish-mother-with-a-penis-although-not-a-Mother-or-a-Jew-but-still-circumcised fella that I am, I felt a good meal would cure anything. They both called me after and mom was all perky and said she needed that and then said she had to go because Coronation Street was on and you didn't interrupt her show.
So the next day at work I call in the morning. No answer. I panic, because my mother wouldnt be anywhere but there. So I call again later and dad answers and I ask if they need anything and he goes to ask mom but she's sleeping and he can't wake her and suddenly I want to vomit everywhere because I know it's all going wrong and I know that something terrible is happening. I ask him to bring her the phone, because she's in the living room in her chair, but her phone is dead and he doesn't know why and he keeps saying "it says low battery" and wants to put batteries in it, and I am telling him to find the charger and he's walking around the room with the dead phone trying to talk to me and I swear I am going to weep because now I understand what mom is living with, so I finally get off the phone with him, go grab coffee and try to pretend life is normal, and after 20 minutes sitting in Tim's with coworkers I know that I need to do something so I drive by to see if my sister is home, the one who lives across the street, and see her car, so I go back to work, call the Mrs., tell her about the call to dad and say I have to call "Libby" and ask her to check on them. She says she can call, because she reads the panic in my voice, and calls back to say Libby will check on them after work that evening and she made a doctor appointment for my mom the next morning, because my mom hasn't been to a doctor really since I was born 38 years ago. I tell Rachel that that isn't good enough, that I am worried that mom isn't awake, and she says "is that what you really are thinking?" so she calls her back and says Libby will stop there on her way to work at 2. At 2 I get a call from Rachel saying Libby called an ambulance, that mom was in her chair, in soiled panties, with legs swollen hideously. So I freak out, we all go to the hospital, and I know it isn't good. Everyone thinks it's just a pulled muscle or something but the longer she is in emergency, it is obvious to me that she's dying. I say that, they all say I am crazy. Then we go see mom, she starts moaning with each breath, a breath that I know now very well, after the last few days, and a nurse turns to us and says "she's VERY sick" and we pretty much think she's going to go in moments. Her hemoglobin is like 38 - it's supposed to be in the 100s I think, and when my sister, who had a fibroid the size of a football, was anemic because of it, she was summoned out of work to go to the hospital when her hemoglobin was 70, so we knew it was life and death. She was moved to ICU, given 4 pints of blood, and oxygen, and whatever else. And she lived. But her liver was swollen, and her legs were very swollen still. She couldn't walk or anything. Started looking better but couldn't get up, and was incontinent. Then she wasn't sick enough so she was moved to emergency because there is a bed crisis at our hospital. Slept in a bed in a hallway, basically. Started to be confused. Her conditions were incredible - underlying was the blood thing, which we now know is leukemia. Then there was the swollen liver which they mistakenly thought was cirrosis, which made us wonder if she was an even bigger drinker than we thought. it wasn't. And there was the mysterious leg swelling too. And her heart wasn't working right. And they said if we hadn't got her in there, she'd have been dead in 12 hours.
But most troubling was the mental state. She suddenly turned confused. Like she was drunk, we we knew well. Then she would hallucinate. The doctor said maybe it was alcohol withdrawal since at that piont we didn't know if she was a huge closet drinker. She wasn't, by the way. Sounds like she hadn't had a drink in months. Anyway, our Doctor, "Chip", is a family friend, and we got him to take mom as a patient, since she's never been to a doctor since I was born, and since we found out Chip is chief of staff, he got her a real bed, and then got her transfered to Saskatoon, to the teaching hospital, after a week,. Where she was until Thursday night.
I know you want the whole story, but I need to end here for tonight. I am exhausted. But to come will be the move to Saskatoon, the weeks of driving back and forth, the good visits, the bad visits, the no results, the confusion, the personal shit that happened to all of us outside of this, my dad's assessment for his Alzheimers, finding him a care home, the shit that goes with that, our fateful diagnosis, my touch and go ambulance ride back to town with mom where she pretty much died and then came back, and then the events of yesterday.
I will fill you in on all that next time. but I needed to fill in that my absence is due to my mom being sick, and losing her last night. And the anguish and grief that losing your mother brings is indescribable, and something I don't know that I can articulate, especially since I am a mama's boy through and through. I can't get dying mother songs out of my head for the past 4 days - Kate Bush's "This Woman's Work" and Carly Simon's "Like a River". I dont' rightly know if I'll ever listen to either again. And I can only type any of this because I am in a wine fog right now. But if you are of the praying sort, send a prayer out for my beautful mother, that she is dancing with Jesus right now, and that she feels our love. And the selfish asshole in me also asks that you ask for peace for my family and myself and that I will be able to feel that she is at peace. The last two loved ones to die, I've had, well, horrible feelings of their presence when they left, and with Mom, nothing. I don't want to feel anything really, or to be spooked, but I really want to know she's in paradise and that she knows that we did what we did because we love her so much and that to me she was beyond the central figure that shaped me - she made me who I am, I have such a heaving heart of thankfulness to her, and such an empty pit of lonliness that makes me want to scream in the most inhumane way at the night sky. I honestly don't know how I am going to forge ahead without her. Mom, I can't feel you right now, but please be reading this and please know that you are the fire that burns in me. Until I see you again, I am forever yours and forever broken-hearted that no amount of wine or ativan or sunny days will calm. Shine on, beautiful, beautiful mommy. I will see you in the stars.
your sweetie