Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day is not my favorite weekend.

In many ways it seems like a lifetime ago. 

But in some ways it feels like just yesterday. 

I received a call from my brother. My mother, who only a week before was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, had been moved to ICU. You need to come back to town he said. I would make it this weekend. 

My mind begins reeling. 

I was still trying to process how we were going to handle her cancer treatment. She had been there to care for my father when he was battling lung cancer. Which one of us would step up to care for her?  I had visited her in the hospital and had been there for the diagnosis. My mantra since hearing the diagnosis: It's a marathon, not a sprint. 

I was mentally preparing myself for the marathon. 



And now my brother was telling me to sprint back into town. 

He did say she still recognized him. Recognized him?!?  Why was he even telling me that?! Of course, she recognizes him. I saw her a week earlier with my kids and we talked and joked, having absolutely no idea it would be the last time she would see my children. 

I am not a sprinter. 

I have never trained for sprints. 

I was training for the long-bout-with-cancer-then-recovery marathon

I left the family the next day and drove the three hours to Houston. I walked into the ICU prepared . . . to discuss treatment options. To consider all those things you realize you need to discuss when you have a 70+ old parent with cancer.  After having already lost one parent to cancer five years earlier. 


We were not able to discuss anything. She did not recognize me. Or rather, maybe she did, but she could not communicate other than to groan. Her eyes saw me. I saw life in her eyes, but that was the only communication that remained. 

This wasn't a marathon.

It was a fifty yard dash. 

And I was unwillingly thrust twenty-five yards out from the finish line. 

My sweet hubs wanted to come be with me. I said no. Not yet. I wouldn't acknowledge that it was the end. Someone was going to have to tell me that to my face,  despite the fact that I could hear the ragged breathing I recognized as . . . the end. 

That someone came that evening. 

He spoke in medicalese {legalese is a word, shouldn't medicalese be too?} but all I heard was "I'm so sorry." He was such a gentle, sweet man I didn't take out my anger on him. Instead I went directly to the chapel and told God what I thought of this "fifty yard dash plan". 

I was angry and not afraid to tell Him.

I am not a sprinter. Why was he making me sprint?!

The ICU staff didn't move her or otherwise attend to her near as much the next day. Nor did they complain when we had four or five people in the room, blatantly disregarding the two visitor maximum. 

Her stats continued to drop. 

I finally called the Hubs and blubbered: I need you here. Now. 

He made the three hour drive. 

I met him in the waiting room and walked him into her room. As soon as we entered the room, I could see the finish line. I called my siblings and her minister into the room. 

We prayed over her. 

We said goodbye. 

The sprint no one wanted to run . . . ended Labor Day weekend 2009.  

Last pic of my mom with my duo - July 2009

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