I can hardly remember a time before my mother was regularly ill–probably when I was in elementary school. And over the last 3+ years her already poor health began to slide faster and faster.
It’s a harsh reality that most of us navigate this type of crossroad at least a few times in our lives. But this is the first time I’ve had to walk the kids through the loss of a family member. How to talk to them about her illness? How to protect them? How to help them find peace? Along the way, I adjusted how much I shared with them based upon their respective ages, from 10 to 17, but I always answered every question honestly. I continually reminded them that they had made their grandmother happier than anything else in her life–which was the absolute truth. And I worried about how I was going to tell them when she was gone.
Still, her consistent conviction on just about everything–and, let’s be honest: formidable stubbornness–had me convinced that she would somehow outlive us all. But in October, when her doctor recommended that she begin to consider hospice care, it became soberingly clear that we were actually approaching the time when my mother would not be with us anymore.
One day, my mother’s health reached a point where there was no other choice, and she was admitted to the hospital for comfort care, with no expectation of going home. After being non-responsive all day, she opened her eyes just long enough to see me at her ICU bedside and she struggled to speak her only sentence of the day, and her final words to her first-born: “Don’t worry about me.” An amazing gift: Hooked to hospital monitors and fading quickly, her priority was still to help me.
So, trying to help my trio, my message has mirrored my mother’s: It will never be the same…but it will be okay.
Post script: My site has been on hold for too many weeks because this became the post that I could not finish, but also that I could not skip. The final version follows Hemingway’s iceberg approach….less stated may not be more, but it is enough. Now it’s time to publish and move forward.
It’s good to be back.