Losing My Mom–Near the End

Author’s Note: I wrote this post a couple months before my mom died. I wanted to share it now.

I called my mom to check in. She was out of breath. Told me she had been lying on the deck enjoying the sun. I can picture her– relaxed, closed lips, slightly smiling as the sun beats down on her weathered face and medically worn body.  I think about how I’ll miss her. It’s much easier to hate an addict. It’s a lot harder to love one. Especially because these last 9 months have been a gift.

When she first went septic, I thought, “F–k me. So typical of her.”

If only she had gone to the ER when her doctor told her, she wouldn’t have had her entire colon removed.

This led to every complication imaginable.

But my mother has never really done things right. Except maybe this time she has.

If she had gone in right away they would have fixed the problem before it became a disaster. She probably would have gone home a few weeks later. Which means by now, she would have gone through at least another 12K of her dwindling life savings to buy crack (a habit I just recently found out about, and one she decided to pick up at 62 years old). She could very well be in the gutter, dead. I’d dismiss her death as a relief. And think about what a waste it all was. Now I’ve had her back —at least in some capacity—as the mom I knew and loved once long ago. And it’s much harder.

I know the end is coming. They found out they simply can’t do anything more for her.  They don’t have enough length in her small intestine to operate; to fix the damn fistula. And with it spewing out bile like Old Faithful, it’s impossible for her body to absorb any nutrients.

The PA told me on the phone that she and two highly skilled doctors stood around staring at it, feeling so helpless. They equated it to the Gulf Oil spill, when brilliant minds around the world simply couldn’t come up with a way to cap it.

When my mom heard the bad news, she said, “I’m so sad I won’t see Fi grow up.” Maybe as a mom myself, that is the hardest thing to grasp. Death is final. And my own mortality seems so tenuous at times. It gives me perspective: life is a privilege. A gift. Not a given.

During these past months with her in the hospital, I have often thought about all that could have been, but also the small window that was. When she’s gone, I’ll remember that in the beginning she was as good a mom as they came. The best. Unconditionally loving, full of personality, adventurous, independent. All things she instilled deeply in me.

I’ll try and skip over the middle years. The nearly 3 decades of a life sadly lived.

And then I’ll focus on the recent–the times that she cared about Fi and me. No matter how much pain she was in, every phone call her first question was, “What’s Fia doing right now?” I’d have to yell over Fi’s verbosity and paint the picture for her. Tell her the new tricks she learned. My mom would laugh deep and strong.

When I came down with the flu this winter, she worried. In every phone call she’d ask how I was feeling. She said she’d always worried about me. Perhaps she didn’t worry in the middle of a drunken stupor, but somewhere deep down, I know she always had me close by. A mom always holds her daughter close to her heart. And I guess that’s what I have to take with me.

I am glad she has her sun. She always loved it. And I hope she basks in it as long as she can….

Mom at The Zoo no border

She passed away June 7, 2011. Fly away Mom. You are free.

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  1. by jelee

    On July 13, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    Your mom was so beautiful. So glad you had her back for that last year.

  2. by Melanie

    On August 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Wow…we could have the same mother. It’s so funny that I ended up here. I clicked a link of Facebook and read a different post, but ended up here. My mother has the addiction issues, the mental issues, and poor health due to years of neglect. I don’t recognize her compared to who she was when I was a child. But sometimes, like you said, you get a small glimpse of the person who used to be there. I almost cried when you wrote that she worried about you having the flu-that is very much like a conversation my mom and I would have. The weird thing is, my mom had a CT scan done for an abdominal mass last week, we are awaiting the results. Maybe I found this article to remind me how much I will miss her when she is gone, despite her demons. Thank you for sharing this.

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