Tonight, I read a post over at Borepatch’s that linked to a new blog that I’m adding to my RSS feed. Six is a fellow that lost his mother in a roundabout way to cancer. Cancer beat her mentally before it could beat her physically. Instead of posting something depressing on his blog, I’ll put it here so he has the OPTION of reading it. It’s something I don’t recall ever putting in writing in the past. So, here goes…
Six, I truly know what you’re going through (and a little about what she was going through).
My mother died when I was 9. It was emphazema, but she also had lung cancer. It was a race and Emphazema won out. Shortness of breath that only got worse. A machine chugging away at night extracting oxygen from water for her to breathe. Eventually, she collapsed and I was the one to run next door to call 911. My parents weren’t the most check-balancing folks out there, so luxuries like a PHONE weren’t always available. I don’t remember a lot about the hospital but hanging out in the waiting room with my siblings. I met a lot of family in that time. I didn’t understand it at the time, but they all flew in because they knew it was the end. At one point, someone, I don’t remember who, walked me in to the bed where my mom was. She was surrounded by her siblings and they walked me up to hold her hand. She squeezed my hand, but never opened her eyes. I would find out later, that was the end. I was momma’s boy, no doubt about that. heh… there’s a first. I’m crying while I write this. I’ve never done that before… Anyhow, late that night, while I was at home, I think it was my older brother woke me up to tell me that she’d died. March 22, 1988. She was 45 years old.
Through excellent parenting choices by my remaining parent, I went back into foster homes that August. I say BACK because I was when I was 5 and 6 years old already. When I was in high school, I was on foster home 12 or so. This couple were my parents, now. They didn’t care if I took on their last name. They just said I would be welcome there as a foster child if that’s what I wanted. No strings attached. I moved in my sophomore year of high school, so about 15 years old. When I was about 22, my foster mother got lung cancer. They found it while I was in the Marines. I found out she had it when I got home on terminal leave.
Cancer is an ugly, ugly disease. Hers was terminal as well. Towards the end, the chemo had her hair and the pain had her consciousness for the most part. At the end, it was so bad that the morphine had to be administered through the skin as a cream. I think it was something stronger, but I don’t remember. You had to wear thick thick rubber gloves so you didn’t touch it. It would get rubbed on her feet and it was the only way you could give her relief from the pain. When it was really really bad enough, the moaning could be heard through the floor to the second floor of the house. Her toes curled so tightly, almost like they were atrophied because she was in that much pain. Her legs would also curl up because of the pain. She wanted to curl to the fetal position, but she wasn’t strong enough to do so anymore. This went on for months. She died with the family in the house. Hospice was nearby and what a wonderful service they provide… She was able to be in the ‘comfort’ of her own home at the end. She died about September 22nd, 2011 or thereabouts. We never even told her about 9/11 because of what we thought it would do to her.
Cancer is the most vile of diseases. I very literally watched my mother die from it twice. Granted, they were two different people, but the effect remains the same.
Six, I like your take on it and how you’re dealing with it personally. You are not doing trying to second guess her too much and I think that is wise. After seeing what I’ve seen with this disease, I hope I would behave exactly as you hope you’d behave… but I haven’t seen the world through the eyes of one of them.
God speed, sir. I wish we’d met (virtually) under better circumstances.