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Loss, impending as well as present [Oct. 17th, 2014|10:57 am]
Next Saturday I am flying to Bismark, North Dakota, to see my mom.

It will almost certainly be the last time I see my mom.

Mom has been battling health issues for a number of years now. She has been in complete renal failure for about a year, and now she has an infection and serious swelling in one leg. If they can't get that under control, she is looking at the possibility of amputation. In any event, she is almost certain that she will never be able to go home again, that she will be consigned to a nursing home.

And she's done. She's in continual pain. She can't really lie down anymore due to congestive heart failure, the dialysis is painful and eats up what quality of life she has left. She was widowed last year just after Thanksgiving, and she says she's ready to go and be with her sweetie again.

The thing that is tearing me up most about this is that Mom only moved to the Dakotas this summer to live with her cousin, also recently widowed. It was supposed to be a renaissance of sorts for her; after living in relative isolation in Montana, she was having such a great time with her new friends. Her cousin has a great social circle of robust old women with whom Mom was getting acquainted. They were welcoming, and she was getting out to play cards and have lunch several days a week. It was all going so well, and I really thought that she was going to get better and have a few happy years puttering around there. But as they say, humans plan and the gods laugh.

Still, a year ago when she was doing very badly, I was much more adjusted to the idea that she was likely to die. Now that she has a reason to live, I'm taking her impending death much harder.

My dad died almost two decades ago, suddenly and without warning. Now my mom is planning her demise. I'm the first of the kids going to see her, but she's trying to get all four of us out there for one last visit. Then, unless things improve radically and unexpectedly, she will refuse dialysis, accept only palliative care, and die rather quickly.

I have often said I wasn't sure which way was easier: the shock of an unexpected death, or the adjustment time for an anticipated one. After this year, I think I have enough data points to say that the unexpected death is much easier. Because the pre-grieving period when you know it's coming doesn't do anything to relieve the grief that follows. It just drags it out that much longer.

I used to think I had a pretty good handle on death and grief. I don't think that anymore. I am humbled by how hard I am taking everything that's happened this year.

I also used to look forward to the New Year like it was an actual turning of the tide. 2013 was a very tough year, so tough that we literally burned the calendar at the end of last year, hoping to banish that bad year. But 2014 has been awful. The years have slurred together, and I don't look forward to marking 2015 as a new beginning when things will change. Just more of the same uphill slog.

For now, the mountain I have to climb is looming directly before me. Time to tie up my boots and start climbing.

[User Picture]From: wilhelmina_d
2014-10-17 03:01 pm (UTC)
I am so sorry to hear what you are going through. End of life issues are... well, they're hard. In a way that people who haven't lost someone don't quite grasp. I didn't until I lost someone very dear to me this summer. I can only imagine how it is when it's several someones.

FWIW, as a stranger on the internet, you have my support and well-wishes. I hope you know you're loved by many people.
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[User Picture]From: halfmoon_mollie
2014-10-17 03:10 pm (UTC)
Have a safe flight, and as pleasant a trip as you can under the circumstances.

See last sentence above. I'm sorry.
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[User Picture]From: ckd
2014-10-17 03:20 pm (UTC)
May you find comfort and ease somehow.
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[User Picture]From: lsanderson
2014-10-17 05:15 pm (UTC)

No easy row

Have a safe flight and as pleasant as possible visit.
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[User Picture]From: ccr1138
2014-10-17 05:35 pm (UTC)
I know where you are right now, and I send you prayers and good wishes. There was a time a few years ago when I was sure I was saying goodbye to my dad for the last time. His heart was failing, and he was cyanotic, had no energy, had given up. At the same time, my only sibling was battling a Hepatitis B infection and losing. I'd already lost my mom about 10 years before. I remember the despair, thinking I was soon to be an "orphan" and truly the last of my family.

BUT ... my brother got into a double-blind drug study that cured him, and my dad got a defibrillator implanted into his heart which gave him a new lease on life. They are both still with us, praise the Lord.

It may be that you'll have to say goodbye to your mom, but I am hoping for the same sort of miracle for her. Please keep us posted, and take good care of yourself!
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[User Picture]From: mplsindygirl
2014-10-17 07:10 pm (UTC)
I admire you for tying up your boots and taking those steps. And the fact that you write here, and accept comments and support from people tells me that you are wise enough to hold the hands that are offered along the way. Much love to you.
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[User Picture]From: ba1126
2014-10-17 08:32 pm (UTC)
My prayers are with you. We lost my FIL, a sweet wonderful man, nearly 12 years ago, in the same sort of decline. He, too, reached a point at which he refused dialysis. There isn't much else to be said except that he is still warmly remembered and sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with you in this hard journey.
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[User Picture]From: fallconsmate
2014-10-17 08:40 pm (UTC)
i am so very sorry. i have no real words, but you are there in my good thoughts.
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[User Picture]From: aiela
2014-10-17 09:14 pm (UTC)
Sweetie, I'm so sorry. I've lost a parent both ways and I honestly couldn't make a decision on what was easiest, although there was a significant age difference between the two, so I may have coped with one better than the other by virtue of being more than 2x as old the 2nd time.

In any event, it stinks and I'm sorry. Love you.
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[User Picture]From: hippie_mamabear
2014-10-17 10:18 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry you're going through this :(

On one hand, you get to see her and be sure you say everything you need to say to her. On the other hand...what do you say?

When my grandpa died last year, we thought...well...sad he's gone, BUT now Grandma can have a break from the last decade of taking care of each and every one of his needs! We thought she'd have many years of well-deserved freedom. She was only 69. Nine months later, she died unexpectedly. She was never sick. She even went to work that day! But damn, i guess there's never any planning these things. It just feels crappy that she wasn't given the time we thought she was owed.
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[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2014-10-17 11:45 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry that you have to go through this. I hope that your life gets easier soon.
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[User Picture]From: jeffpalmatier
2014-10-18 02:03 am (UTC)
Wow, I'm so sorry, Gini.
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[User Picture]From: albumlady
2014-10-18 02:33 am (UTC)
It's so difficult when we see our parents as frail instead of invincible. My heart goes out to you for all you have lost this year. Sending you wishes of a 2015 that fills you with joy and rejuvenation.
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[User Picture]From: dharawal
2014-10-18 03:50 am (UTC)
sending all love and courage for whatever awaits.

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[User Picture]From: alexmegami
2014-10-18 06:01 am (UTC)
I'm sorry. That sounds so incredibly hard.

Hugs, and know that I am thinking of you. :(
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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2014-10-18 08:13 am (UTC)
Sending hugs... The universe so needs to stop heaping loss upon you and your loved ones.
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[User Picture]From: wolflady26
2014-10-18 06:50 pm (UTC)
Oh, sweetie, not even more piled on you now. I'm so deeply sorry. I wish I could help, and if there's anything I can do, please, let me know.
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[User Picture]From: longtimegone
2014-10-19 01:35 am (UTC)
I'm very sorry. I hope the trip is as peaceful as possible. Here's to a less grief filled 2015.
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[User Picture]From: pachamama
2014-10-19 08:19 am (UTC)
I'm so so sorry to hear of your troubles. Life has been throwing you far too many curve balls lately. I hope you have a good farewell with your mom. My thoughts are with you.
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[User Picture]From: celticdragonfly
2014-10-19 11:39 am (UTC)
Oh ow. Hugs and caring to you. That sounds awful and hard. I hurt for your pain. I will be thinking of you, and I care that you make it through the slog.
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[User Picture]From: cynic51
2014-10-20 03:34 am (UTC)
There are no good reasons to go to Bismarck, and this one is worse than most. Sorry.

>>I don't look forward to marking 2015 as a new beginning
I suggest that you two go on vacation for this NYE.
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[User Picture]From: miripanda
2014-10-22 03:35 pm (UTC)
I'm so so sorry. It's not enough, but it's all I've got.
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From: anonymousalex
2014-12-23 05:07 am (UTC)
There ought to be a name for today, the first day of the year that's longer than the previous day. I think this is a good day to note that I'm still checking in and thinking of you.

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