This evening, right after I arrived home, my father called to fill me in on my mother’s condition. Almost 14 months after the initial tumor was discovered in her lung, and after it responded so quickly to the chemotherapy and radiation treatments, her breathing was short and labored again. In short the cancer has returned. One lung has collapsed and they aspirated a quart of fluid from that lung and the surrounding chest area. Her medical oncologist indicated that no amount of treatment is going to stop this cancer, all he can provide is some relief. Left untreated he felt she would live for perhaps two months. With once a week treatments no one knows what her life expectancy will be.
My mother is dying.
I was already planning to travel to Illinois for her birthday in mid-March, and I may make other trips as time, and her condition, allows. I am still reeling in many ways from Michele’s death, and now I have to prepare myself for mom’s death. In the case of my wife we always talked about everything, and told each other time and again how we felt. I have no regrets about things left unsaid. I cannot say the same for my mother. Like all adult children, my relationship with my parents is complex. Sorting through the maze of feelings and thoughts I have about mom over the coming weeks and articulating the ones I need in order to care for myself will not be an easy task. My fear is that there are some hard things to say, hard things to hear, that I need to find closure on before she dies.
On the one hand I feel like I shouldn’t burden her with any of my stuff between now and her death. On the other hand, if I don’t make peace with her now, I’ll never get the chance again. Recently I saw a quote about “managers want to do it the right way, leaders want to do the right thing,” or words to that effect. This is the juncture I find myself at tonight. Do I do this the “right” way in the eyes of society? Or do I do the “right” thing for me?
As one of Michele’s quotes says, not only is life a bitch, she has puppies.