According to WordPress, it has been two months since my last entry. I believe this because in the last two months, so much has happened and yet it feels as though the time has also dragged on.
On February 18th 2017, my mom passed away from Esophageal Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Lung Cancer and, quite possibly, Brain Cancer.
Rewind twenty-two days from that date. Mom began her stay at Innisfree House. In that time period, I watch five bodies leave the hospice, five families hurt, and five more families join the Innisfree Family. Because let’s face it, the people at a hospice, whether you talk to them or not, are a type of family. The knowing half heart smiles, the nods of acknowledgement, and the grief everyone is feeling, creates a type of community that no one truly understands unless they’re living within it day in and day out.
During that time, I watched my mom change. Her body was failing and the cancer was winning. There were moments of clarity for her. These moments were incredibly precious to anyone who had the honour of being present for them. They were moments where the fog lifted from her brain and she knew where she was and who was with her. But those moments were becoming more few and far between. Most morning were quiet while I sat there by her bedside, cross stitching and listening to worship music or nature/wildlife documentaries on Netflix. This was due to mom being agitated throughout the night and unable to sleep. It was peaceful, and I could hope that day would be a good one. The good days didn’t happen often. Most days consisted of me fighting to keep my mom in the bed. Tears would be desperately trying to escape my eyes while I physically held my mom down on the bed to prevent her from injuring herself, speaking to her as if she were a toddler, and explaining over and over again that she couldn’t get out of bed because she was no longer strong enough to even try.
Every day I would come. I would kiss her forehead good morning. I would whisper a prayer over her. I would pull the rocking chair next to her bed and I would sit there for hours on end. Some days turned into ten or more hours of sitting by her side, praying that God would take her in His arms and end her suffer, end the suffering of my dad and brother, and end the suffering of her closest friends. I never prayed for my own suffering to end. I knew this was the place I needed to be. Every time I would leave, I would pack my stuff away to take home. I would kiss her again and whisper “Goodbye Mommy. I love you” just in case she left me when I wasn’t there. I would go home and I would feel drained. I knew I wasn’t the same person anymore.
On Friday, February 17th, something happened. For the first time in days, my mom opened her eyes. I was so shocked that I almost dropped my cross stitch. I grasped her hand and said “Hi Mommy!” She actually replied, very clearly. I asked her how she was but she didn’t reply. She just continued to look at me and hold my hand. I swallowed hard, forced a smile and said “I love you Mommy.” “I love you too” was her reply before she closed her eyes again. She didn’t open them again while I was there that day.
Saturday morning came. I was sitting on the couch with my daughter and husband, waiting for the time to come when we would have to go to her swimming lesson. My phone rang and I could see it was my dad calling. After answering it and hearing his voice, my heart stopped. I could feel it clench tightly. The nurse had told my dad that he needed to call me and my brother because she believed mom wouldn’t be here much longer. I knew I had to get there quickly, and yet there was this odd feeling of calm pushing down the fear. I arrived in time to sit on my mom’s right side and hold her hand, while my dad sat on her left side and held her other hand. Her hands were a whitish grey colour and they were so cold. After ten minutes of raspy breaths between longer periods of silence where I would lightly hold my hand on her chest to try and feel her heart beat, my mom took her last breath.
My dad wiped his face free of tears and went to get the nurse. When she came, along with a couple of PSWs, I wiped my tears away, greeted her and asked her how her Valentine’s Day plans were (she had a late celebration due to work schedule). Because in those twenty-two days, I had grown to care for the two nurses and the multiple PSWs there. She used her stethoscope to listen for mom’s heartbeat, while one of the PSWs stood next to me with her hand on my back.
On Saturday, February 18th 2017, my mom passed away.
The tears stopped. I could feel a wall being built in order to keep calm and get the next steps done. My dad made the appropriate phone calls to family, and I made the needed phone calls to my husband, my ex husband, my mother-in-law, my best friend and my aunt in Nova Scotia. When the calls were made, it was time for me to leave and see my children. I had to sit them down and tell them that their Grandma was no longer alive.
I went home. My ex husband and husband were sitting on the couch waiting for me. I called my children downstairs and had them sit on the couches. My daughter sat with her daddy and my son sat with my husband. The tears threaten to come again and I allowed a couple to spill over while I said what needed to be said. My daughter cried silently. But my son shrunk. I could see him collapse inside. I could see the pain and the devastation grip him as he tried desperately not to cry and hold it together. I told him he could go be alone in his room if he needed to. I knew he wouldn’t let the tears come if he was with us. I knew he needed his privacy.
I made a posting in the private women’s group for my church, as well as a posting on my Facebook wall. It was the easiest way to update everyone without having to call and text the same thing over and over again. I sent a text message to my boss to update him and ask to be put back on the work schedule for the following week.
Now, return to today. One month and four days since that day. During that month, I returned to work, continued to attend church, teach the preschool class on my scheduled days, and sorted through my mom’s possessions. I remained calm through all of that. I had moments of sadness but I was calm.
This past Saturday, I saw Beauty & The Beast with my son. Something happened in the movie, and I’m unsure of what it was exactly, where it allowed the tears to come. I spent approximately 75% of the movie with tears streaming down my face. The movie was incredible. I loved it very much and would recommend it to everyone who is a Disney and/or Emma Watson fan. But the tears fell and they didn’t want to stop. I spent the remainder of the day feeling the drops silently zigzag down my cheeks.
I feel them again now as I type this entry. I know it has to be written. It’s another way for me to heal and grieve. I’m still grieving. I will be for months to come. But I’m also healing. I’m becoming stronger as a person. I’m becoming stronger as a daughter to my dad. But most importantly, I’m becoming stronger in my faith and in my trust in God.