October 27, 2014


My mother survived my weekend away…and then some. She was fine. It was amazing how she knew that I was sneaking away and that she could do something to sabotage my trip-but she was unsuccessful this time. We went anyway! All weekend, she ruminated about how I was getting married and didn’t want her at my wedding and/or that Elsa was getting married and that she had no dress or gift. But it was fine.

We came back. We have visited and even dined, many times.

A few weeks ago, the head hospice nurse called and expressed his feelings that my mother was straining and needed morphine. He asked me to speak to Alice about it. I did, and Alice did not feel it was time. We both deferred to her professional opinions. Several days later, Alice agreed that it was time, and she revealed to Elsa that part of her hesitation was caused by a previous lethal experience with morphine and her patient. At first, my mother was receiving morphine every other day or so, a half of the doctor’s dose. Now, I believe that she gets it every day, and maybe sometimes more than once a day.

We were all there for a big family dinner on Friday. My mother was up and at the table, alert, awake and looking around. It was amazing. 

But later, she was exhausted and went to bed and was fitful as she tried to sleep. She was moaning and tossing as much as she can, and I was devastated for her, believing that she was suffering. She had a frightened, hollow look in her eyes and seemed to be presenting only an outer shell of the person she has been as long as I have known her.

It was awful, and I was very sad. I left thinking that life, in the end, is cruel to those who live too long.

I visited again two days later. Although my mother was sitting up in a wheel chair, she had that gone, vacant look, garbled speech and unintelligible reactions to my conversation with Alice. How awful for her not to be heard and understood!

When I left, she was laboring to rest, even after morphine.

Today Alice tells me she slept deeply most of the day, but she also ate quite a bit.

I feel we are in a holding pattern: she’s steady, but declining a bit every day. We have no idea when this will end, and part of us hopes it’s soon, to end her suffering, and part of us dreads the day when there will no longer be opportunities to say anything more. And when the end comes, it will be final-no turning back, no, “But, wait!”

I feel actually peaceful. My anger has long dissipated and I understand that for many years, my mother has not been herself, her good/best self, that she once was. We have had a rough many years and I feel as though I have been put through the ringer on many occasions, but that’s ok. As long as I don’t repeat the pattern, I can accept how it’s been for us.

I only hope the morphine is keeping her from feeling too much pain.

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