I don’t know how to start this.
I had intended on sharing my journey through my mother’s progressing illness, but everything happened so quickly, I was unable to do so.
After the last time I posted an update, it only took about a week for my mother to decide she wanted to be placed on Hospice. Aside from getting the results of the CT scan, which showed extensive metastases, she seemed otherwise normal (I won’t say “fine” or “good” because she was always in chronic pain). Looking back, I think she knew something we didn’t know.
Once on hospice, my mother’s pain was controlled well, and while still obviously in pain, she seemed to be doing alright. Being the eternal optimist, I took this as a sign that she would be one that stays on hospice for months, or maybe even has the chance to come off of hospice altogether. This was not the case.
In less than a week, she sat down for what would end up being her last meal — Tacos from a Tuesday Taco special at the local bar: a favorite of hers. The next morning, the decline had already began. It started as mild cognitive decline — while she could still get up and move around, she was becoming more confused and forgetful. Within a day or so, she was mostly bed-bound. We would help her get up to use the bathroom, but that was the extent of her travels.
Later in the week, she began to fall. This was especially difficult since we didn’t have a good strategy for getting her off the floor. We always managed, but within a few nights of it happening repeatedly, it started to take its toll on us.
Two days before she passed away, my mother got out of bed twice. Once to sit naked in the dining room, and ask for a bowl of cereal that she didn’t eat. And the second to sit in the living room, allow me to dress her, and mumble out a few words here or there. Both times, she ended up going back to bed, her energy levels seemingly depleted.
Six days from her last meal (the following Monday), she began transitioning into the phase of actively dying. I had been laying in bed with her for hours, catching cat naps when I was able, and just being with her for comfort. I woke up around 8:00pm and noticed the change. She had developed a horrible fever, and was sweating profusely. She was also moaning with each exhale, and her breathing overall seemed more labored.
We called in my Uncle (her Brother), and later in the evening called on the hospice nurse.
When the nurse arrived, she confirmed what I had expected: my mother was actively dying, and would likely not last more than 24-hours. I understood and accepted this, but my Uncle and Grandmother (her Mother) took things pretty hard, which is understandable. The nurse then left for the evening, since there was nothing more for her to do. Medications had been given, we had moved my mother into what we collectively agreed would be the most comfortable position, and all that was left to do was wait.
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, I laid in bed with my mother, stroking her hair, and talking softly to her. Around 2:15am, she passed away. I told my Grandmother (her Mother), who told my Uncle, who called the hospice nurse, who in turn, called the funeral home once death was confirmed.
And everything after that has been a blur.
After she passed away on Tuesday, and the funeral home came and took her away, we tried to sleep. That afternoon, after we had tried to sleep, we went to the funeral home, and I made arrangements. She would be cremation. There would be no service; only a private showing for immediate family, that we scheduled for that same evening.
So within the course of just sixteen hours, my mother had passed away, and we had viewed her body for the last time, before sending her body off to be cremated.
Looking back on this, it seems surreal for it to have happened so quickly. But I know that if I had allowed it to drag out, I wouldn’t have held up as well as I did. What I decided on was in line with her wishes; for that, I am at peace.