Wednesday, December 1, 2010

another post i never thought i'd write

here i am, sitting in the hospice inn at huntington (great facility by the way).  my mom is not doing great.  while she was occasionally smiling and giving us one-word answers to direct questions, she is now fully unresponsive.  she can no longer swallow.  her breathing is a bit ragged and gaspy - which is why they have her on oxygen, to keep her comfortable.  mom has a fever that they cannot break.  these are all signs that the end is near.

it sounds so melodramatic.  'the end is near'.  mom will gasp her last breath and die.  but it's really not that dramatic.  she breathes, albeit not well.  she has a compress on her head to try and keep her comfortable.  she gets morphine every four hours, also to keep her comfy.  there is a bag full of her pee hanging on the side of the bed.  mom has an iv needle thing stuck in her arm so they can administer the morphine, the steroids, and the anti-seizure medications.  her eyes are kind of open, but she isn't seeing anything.

if anything, it's like ANTI melodramatic.  it's actually pretty boring.  i do my classwork, watch some television, listen to her breathe, and shop online for her urn.  yes, you read that right: i am shopping for her urn as she lies on her deathbed and i am sitting next to her.  they have free wifi here.

my family is NOTHING if not practical.

today was an exciting day.  i had to go to the hospital where she was originally treated to hand in a fuckload of paperwork to get her medicaid application moving.  the social worker was shocked to find out mom is in hospice care.  even after she passes, he will still work on getting her medicaid approved so we don't have to pay the tens of thousands of dollars of medical bills that hospital stay (mostly in icu) wracked up.

then i got to go to the funeral home.  now, i am irish.  that means we like to wake.  there's four visitations over two days for a friend's aunt?  we're there for ALL FOUR.  seriously - the irish invented wakes.  you know how people always bring food to your home when someone dies?  there's a reason.  in ireland, when a family member died, the only room large enough to have everyone over to pay their respects was usually the kitchen.  the kitchen table would be cleared off and the body would be laid on it.  seriously.  and all the neighbors and friends and relatives would bring over food since the family's kitchen was otherwise occupied. 

things work a bit differently now, but the thought is still appreciated.  i'd prefer vodka instead of food.  and not smirnoff, please.  i'm irish, not desperate.  i prefer sobieski, grey goose, or at the very least, absolut.

so i went to the funeral home.  the guy - bill - was supernice.  we talked about having something a bit different.  mom was not one for open caskets.  hell, she didn't even want a wake - it's mostly for me and my brother.  and she wanted to be cremated.  so i was like, well, why don't we cremate her first, then have the wake instead of pumping her full of embalming crap and then cremating her and dumping her now-possibly-toxic ashes in the sea?  bill was totally on board.  we're doing a direct cremation - mom will be taken directly from the hospice inn to the crematory and then will be delivered to the funeral home.  we'll supply an urn (biodegradable, of course) and we'll basically have a wake with an urn instead of a casket.  i think mom would totally love it.

plus, it's a bit less expensive.  mom could pinch a penny until it screamed.  she'd definitely appreciate this.

but bill is taking care of everything.  obituary?  he helped me write it.  list of things i need to do?  he gave it to me.  how to pay for it?  i can give him mom's life insurance policy numbers and they'll contact the company, get their payment from the policies, and the company will send the rest to me.  could it be easier?

it could be.  mom could not be dying.  and i wouldn't have to do any of this, make any of these decisions.  i wouldn't have to tell my brother, my mom's siblings, or my dad what we plan to do when the end is no longer near, but passed.  i wouldn't have to pick out flowers to sit next to the urn, or photos to add to the collages we plan on having at the wake.  i wouldn't have to call the pastor from my high school to see if he'll come speak at my 56-year-old mom's funeral.  i wouldn't have to buy an appropriate pair of shoes to wear to her wake (i have been informed that my zombie shoes may not be appropriate.  while mom, awesome husband, brother, sisterfromanothermister, and select family members would appreciate it, the general consensus is most will not get it.  damn it.) or hope i have time to get my nails done.  i wouldn't have had to choose whether or not to include the cats in her obituary (yes, i did.  shutthefuckup).  i wouldn't have to figure any of this out.  i would be sitting at home, bitching about my cats yelling or fighting or vomiting on the bed, and mom would be here in new york, living with my dad - her ex-husband - and training for the new job she really wanted.  we'd be moving forward with our plan to come back to new york permanently and be a family again.

somehow, i don't feel like we will ever be a family again without mom.


  1. I'm so sorry hun, even in your time of grieving you're still funny about the alcohol.

    The waiting is always the worst, I haven't lost a parent, but watching my grandpa die slowly and wither away was hard. I couldn't watch him pass, but I knew the second he was gone. Things will be hard, you will cry and be sad, but your husband and family will be there to support you.

    You will move on, respect your mother in her passing and continue with life. I'm glad that this Bill guy is making it easier for you, I would hate to see you suffer anymore than you already have to with a loved one passing.

    My greatest regards. She's in my thoughts.

  2. Considering you dont' know me from Adam, any condolences or such I can offer probably seem kind of empty and hollow. I can't imagine what this must be like, but I admire your strength in dealing with it, and talking about it.

    Your mom must be pretty amazing to have raised a daughter like you. (p.s.. if your mom would have been fine with it, I'd wear the zombie shoes, but that's just me)

  3. Damn, Sugar. It's hard, believe me, I know. I sat in the hospital for 9 days watching my mother die of cancer. The reason she didn't get to go to hospice was because it was Labor Day weekend and no one was in their offices. I cried and grieved so much before she died that when the end finally came, I was all cried out. There's a word for that, by the way. It's called preemptive grief. I know you probably already knew that, but what the hell. Anyway, I wanted you to know that there is someone out here who may not get everything you go through, but definitely gets THIS. And that someone is me. Hugs to you, babe. I promise, it will actually be a little easier when she passes. At least then you won't have to sit there and watch it happen anymore, and it seems to happen so...fucking...slowly.

    Love you.

  4. Honey bun, I've been around just waiting to see if you would ping me. If you need me hit me up on AIM or call me. I know this is hard. I also know that it feels like it will never be family again without your mom. I know that you are probably wondering if you will ever feel 'happy' again (yes, I do recall that you never really feel 'happy'). This is so hard, its so sad, and it feels impossible. My best advice, be gentle with yourself and keep the tarzipan close. Keep me in the loop and let me know what's up.

    I'm keeping you and your family close in my heart. Much love!

  5. Steph, I'll be there. With vodka. I can't even imagine what you are going through. Please let me know if there is anything I can do or help out with. Were you able to get ahold of Pastor Ron? I love that you included her cats and I hardly doubt anyone will have a problem with the zombie shoes. Your mom convinced you to get them. - Catherine

  6. thanks everyone. i know i normally answer each of you, but i have a box of munchkins here so my attention span is extra short.

    @catherine - i forgot that my mom is the one who really convinced me to get them. now i am wearing them. i won't be able to WALK in them, but i can grieve and drink in them, and that's enough.

    haven't gotten ahold of p. ron yet, i might call the school today.

  7. I know you don't know me, but I've been where you are. Ten years ago I spent two weeks watching my 51 year old father whither away and die. I also know that knowing that someone else you don't know has been through it doesn't make it any easier for you.

    I'm glad you decided to wear the Zombie shoes. The fact of the matter is that anyone who attends the wake who is more concerned about your shoes than the reason they're there isn't anyone you need to be concerned about.

    If you come back to Orlando, I'd be more than happy to share a bottle of Grey Goose with you (I mean that in the most non-stalker way possible). I'm Irish too. I get the need for good vodka!

  8. I commend you on having the balls to tell it like it is. I feel so sad for you and hope you will be able to work through the pain and shock of it all, and the sadness.

    I am guessing there is more shock and coping-because-you-have-no-other-choice right now than you realize, and I hope you know you really do have us here to support you if you need us.

    I'm glad Bill wasn't a money-hungry douchebag.

    I'm thinking of you. Much love and many hugs.