Mom’s journey with cancer has been a brief but brutal one. Four months to the day of her diagnosis, a week ago today, we came to the ER with life threatening complications from treatment. Her last radiation was two weeks ago and her burns have been so painful and debilitating she went from living a fully independent life to being completely immobile on the threshold of death.
As hard as the physical pain has been, the anxiety, emotional pain and fear generated by having so little time to adjust to a terminal prognosis has been much, much worse. Mom is so full of life, and her reaction to the news last weekend was flat out “NO. That can’t be true. Let’s get out of here.”
Yesterday, her hospice nurse explained that the level of medication necessary to control the pain of her radiation wounds is also enough to sedate her. She said it was very likely Mom would not continue speaking once she was getting her pain meds via continuous IV drip. Big talker though she is, Mom has been so distraught that she told me she she didn’t want to talk anymore and just wanted to sleep.
So….imagine my surprise, when earlier tonight as she was roused from the haze by a terrible coughing fit, she opened her eyes and weakly spoke, drawing me close. I leaned in, my ear to her lips, desperate to catch her faint wisp of words. I was sure I was about to recieve a magical moment of deathbed illumination.
“I….want…..my…..mail.” came the solemn whisper.
Yup. That’s Mom alright.
But a few hours later to my total astonishment a discernible smile broke over her face. It stayed there for quite some time as she very clearly spoke these words:
“It’s Beautiful. It’s Wonderful. I’m so Happy.”
She went on to say there were lights, like many bright moons, and her Mom was there.
I wish I could post the picture I took of her smiling so beatifically, but I fear she would rise up out of this bed and strangle me to death right his second if I let the world see her hair in this state. Even with zero platelets and about two white blood cells in circulation she managed to put on a full face of makeup this past Tuesday and had me grilling every woman on the oncology floor to see if anyone had any bobby pins.