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March 02, 2006

While my mother’s condition hasn’t worsened any in the last week or so, it hasn’t gotten any better either. The lung cancer diagnoses has been confirmed and she has begun a course of treatment designed to make her comfortable. In the doctor’s opinion there is no hope of eradicating the cancer, and an aggressive course of treatment will only make her sicker. All medicine can provide for her now is comfort, the end result is the same. What we don’t know is how long it will be before she dies.

My father has been sending me daily emails with information about her condition and the activities regarding her treatment. I spoke to him briefly last night, and to my mother as well. Today she is entering the hospital to have a drain installed to allow removal of the fluid that is building up in the diseased lung. The expectation is that she will be in the hospital for two or three days. Her sister, my aunt, is coming on Friday for the weekend to visit her. In all likelihood this will be the last time Helen and Mary are together. As far back as I can remember the two of them have always made each other laugh. Put them in a room together and giggling will soon commence. I am very happy they will get one more weekend with each other.

For myself I am planning a trip there next weekend. My mother and niece share a birthday and I’ll be there for that celebration. I know that seeing her will be an emotional experience, and the leaving will be even more difficult. I vividly recall the struggles Michele had every time we would see her mom, especially when it came time to leave. She knew that one of those goodbyes would be the last. Since we moved to Washington I have been aware that the number of times I’d see my parents alive again was finite and diminishing. My hope is that I can find a quiet moment alone with my mom, to tell her I love her, to tell her that I am proud to be her son, that I will be okay, and that she needn’t stay any long than she wants.

Our relationships with people in any lifetime are limited by time. Now that my time with mom is drawing to a close my need is to be at peace with her so I have no regrets after her death.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.