Postcards of Grief

Mourning is a process.

Comments on breast cancer by proxy, written by a woman coping with the loss of her mother.

Saturday, February 07, 2004

In brief

Cleaning, shopping, crying, packing.

Chicago: church, brunch, moving, shopping (without paying), tea and monkey brains, check-in, walking a mile out of the way to get sushi, talking, talking, talking, sleeping.

Chicago: breakfast, check-out, driving, working.
Home: working, working, working, tea, pregnant sister-in-law.

Working, working, the best kind of interview, working, tea, ground nut soup, phone calls, crying, emails, working.

Working, working, emails, cat-sitting preparations, presents, working, dog-sitting preparations, driving, resting.

The minister came over, and we discussed Mom’s funeral with her right there in the room. We talked about what kinds of music and words would best celebrate her, and Mom suggested Eva Cassidy. It was surprisingly uplifting and peaceful.

The doctor’s visit was pretty distressing. The doctor, Mom, and I all cried. She makes house calls if we need her, but most of what we need is from Hospice.

Mom fell last night trying to get out of bed. She’s bruised on her bottom, and her shin has a large bandage over a cut and another bruise.

I don’t remember how many people came by, but very few bothered to call and ask if it was a good time. It usually wasn’t.

People in and out all day long. Employees, friends, Hospice workers—we met the social worker, a home health aid (to help with baths), and a nurse. And then someone else from Hospice dropping off a strap to lift her off the floor when she falls.

My cousin, for one, came by with her boyfriend, the one she brought to my uncle’s funeral when she was still married to her ex husband. That was surprisingly low stress, but only because she cowed to me. Ha!

Later that night, after cousin and concubino left, we sat around and discussed the people who would be notified at the time of her death as well as some of the nitty gritty about the arrangements. I called for only immediate family—that is, Brooke and me, Dad, and Paul, Hope, and Hannah—staying in the house in the days around Mom’s death. They agreed.

My grandmother came today. She brought Mom’s brother and sister-in-law, one of whom Mom really cares for and one of whom she does not. Mom also does not care for her mother much. Even amidst her occasional confusion, she was lucid at the moment I was helping her get dressed and told her her mother was coming. Her response, in brief, was exasperated dismay. Today? Yes, Mom, today; in another hour or so. We have to clean up the living room. She’ll deal, Mom; let me help you with your sweater.

Oh, and the visit to the funeral home. Yeah. So incredibly uneventful that I’m still bewildered by it.

In general

She’s yellow, more so than she was on Friday when I first found out that she was ready to stop treatment. The confusion is a result of liver failure—the same stuff that makes her skin yellow is impacting her nervous system, making her shaky and confused. When she’s lucid, she’s really lucid. We have tender moments, and she can make decisions for herself. When she’s not, it’s difficult to talk her into what needs to be done.

Mom, wait for me to get the wheelchair. Mom, hold on to me, and I’ll help you stand up. Mom, hold on to me; don’t lean down; I’ll pull your pants up. No, Mom, it’s not time for your bath. Can I help you put your sweater back on?

Brooke is going back tomorrow. She’s going to start a [entry cut short because Mom fell]


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