As you know, since mom’s ovarian cancer diagnosis, the last five and a half years have been a whirl-wind. However, through it all, we knew our mom was super-human. We had higher expectations for her than nearly anyone else who faced similar circumstances simply because she is fiercly determined and made us believe any outcome was possible if she willed it to be so. We were right to feel that way, and frankly, I for one lost sight of this hope and perspective in the last few weeks. Shame on me.
Mom was discharged home on hospice on January 24th. Our expectations for her quantity and quality of life on hospice were low. Mom was sleeping constantly, did not have lung capacity to talk, was too tire for visitors, and was taking significant amounts of pain medications just to get through the day. To be honest, we thought she would live one week, two at the very most – her medical providers, family, and friends who visited her all concurred that we were dangerously close to the end.
Well friends, while we were busy trying to be “realistic,” we frankly should have never lowered our expectations of our Super Woman.
As Nicole mentioned a few days ago, Mom started to feel a little better. We weren’t sure if was just a temporary “energy surge,” which we had heard could happen with hospice. First she started coming out of her room and wanting to sit at the dinner table, hang out, pay bills, and participate in our activities around the house. She had talked for days about wanting to go to Aaron Brothers to pick out a custom frame for our new family photo. We honestly never thought this outing would be possible, but were committed to making it happen if she ever felt good enough to go. Well, Tuesday, the impossible became possible. My sisters and I were terrified as we prepared her medications, oxygen, and other equipment. We were nervous for no reason. The trip went great! She picked out her frame and did a little more shopping while we were there.
When we got home from Aaron Brothers she was absolutely spent. She went to bed and stayed there pretty much until dinner-time the following evening. When she came out on Wednesday evening, she wanted to watch Zero Dark Thirty which had been generously provided to us by an old family friend from St. Mary’s. It was awesome! She nearly made it through the entire movie!
On Thursday, Billy C., Pete, George, and I walked mom up to La Grande for breakfast. We put her in her wheel chair and made sure to bring plenty of extra oxygen. We sat there for nearly an hour. It was so nice and honestly felt so “normal.” It was truly a beautiful and memorable morning. Despite her big morning, she had plenty of energy that night and used it having dinner and discussing the latest news headlines with all of us girls, our husbands, and kids. That too felt so normal.
This morning, we took her to the Camelback Inn’s off-site banquet hall to check it out. She is considering this venue for her memorial service. I realize how morbid this sounds. I also understand that for most people this would be an off-limits topic. However, my sisters and I are grateful that our mom is telling us exactly what she wants for her services. When the dreaded time comes, we will not have to guess and we consider that a gift. No doubt it will be beautiful and a great time. She wants us to celebrate her beautiful life and that is exactly what we will do.
So, the moral of the story is, while we know her ultimate fate, our mom is not going to leave this world until she is good and ready to do so. She told me this morning that she had decided it was “mind over matter” and that she made the conscious choice to get out of bed and go live. Trust me, we know it is not that simple or easy. But there is a lot to be said for the fact that we did not ever think she would ever spend any significant amount of time out of bed again – we certainly never dreamed we would run errands or go out to our favorite restaurants to eat. I am so grateful for her persistence and determination which has afforded us more precious moments and a few more laughs. I feel so blessed that I can be there to share them with her. I hate to be greedy, but I’d like this to last a while. We promise to keep you posted.
Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement.
With love, Michelle