I was supposed to head up to mammy’s on Saturday morning. That was the plan anyway. My mom had told me the weekend before, ‘the dark of the moon seems like a good time to go.’ Fuck.
The week prior to the new moon I was having panic attacks. What would it be like? Can we will ourselves to leave the body? How will I handle it? What will life be like without my mom? Will this be me down the road? Do I have the gene? If I do, will it present itself? Do either of my children have this? How do I protect her empty home after she’s gone? Will I be able to handle being there without her? Would she be there?
HOW DO I AWAKEN FROM THIS NIGHTMARE??
I hardly slept. I cried a lot.
Thursday, the 14th of May, my mom called me. Her words slurred together and slow. Only a few words before she needed to stop and take another breath. I pictured her sitting on her adjustable bed, propped up. Maybe she was holding the phone, maybe someone was holding it for her because it had become too heavy for her.
She tells me, ‘you are coming Friday, right?’
I say, ‘I was planning on Saturday but I can be there on Friday if that’s your desire.’
She tells me yes.
I went into work the next day, my mind only on what I needed to do before I started the four hour drive to the coast and to my mom’s little cabin in the woods. I made plans for my partner to take my children to their dad’s for the weekend and to pick them up later on Sunday.
I braced myself for the situation up there while driving to work. I walked into my office and stare at the computer screen. My boss found me staring at a blank screen. I hadn’t turned it on. I just sat.
Are you ok? He gently asked.
No, I squeak out. Hospice says this weekend perhaps, I tell him.
He says, ‘Go. Take as much time as you need. Let me know how I can support you.’
His voice is soft and gentle and full of compassion.
He lost both his parents within three months of each other to cancer.
I picked up my things and left.
I went home and changed out of my work clothes. I looked at the clock. I had at least four hours before picking up the kids from school to get my act together. I thought about my mom’s eminent death. I paid some bills and moved a little money around in my accounts. I went to the store and bought some large frozen dinners.
Like my mom, I was preparing for my own passage.
Preparing for my own rebirth of sorts.
For a life without my mom. I didn’t want to have to think about anything when I returned home.
I got the kids from school and off we went to meet my partner so he could take them from there and meet with their dad.
I was numb. I was fucking scared. I was lost in my head.
While the drive seemed endless, I tried to take in the beauty of the scenery, winding through the foothills of wine country here in northern California. I observed people gathering for a wedding, wine busses carting people from winery to winery. I drove past a lake and noticed people fishing.
I wondered, what is going on in their lives? I thought about possible trials they have had to deal with in their lives. We never know, do we?
I ended up at mom’s place around 9:30pm.
Her former sister in law was there and they were quietly chatting.
Mom was high on morphine, which was given to help with the anxiety of not being able to breathe well. I was introduced to Terry, the former sister in law. I had not met her before. I wasn’t comfortable with her being there, but my mom treated her as an old friend, so I let it go.
Mom’s mobility had deteriorated pretty badly. She could no longer use her hands to type on her computer or phone, or even push the buttons on the remote control for the tv.
She had cut her hair short. She said no one was willing to brush it. She said it was one less thing to be attached to when the time came.
She wasn’t eating much. It was too hard, she told me, to hold the utensils or lift her hands. They were so heavy. Even moving a light blanket had become too hard. Drinking was a problem as it had become difficult to swallow now and, at times, she would choke on her own spit.
The biggest challenge at this point was getting her from her bed to the portable toilet, which sat next to her bed and back.
I’m a strong gal. Athlete for years. But lifting her, even though she was small, & moving, positioning, and gently setting her down left me sore. It was a good half an hour or longer process from when she announced she had to use the toilet to getting her back into bed and adjusted correctly and comfortable.
I’m not complaining. This is just how it was. Some people had lost their grip previously and dropped her so she would tense up every time. Rightfully so.
I offered her all the foods she loved. She didn’t even want those. She was tired of them. She was tired of it all.
She was ready to go. And it was time to let her go.
And in the wee hours of the following morning, on a new moon, she left me and went back home.