Monday, June 8, 2015

When Words Aren't Enough

My mom is dying.

Just typing that doesn't seem real. Doesn't feel possible.

My smart, funny, beautiful, loving, humble, gracious mother sang "Happy birthday" to my twin brother and me for the last time tonight.

Barring a miracle, today was my last birthday with my mom.

I'm only 28. My younger brother is only 23. I secretly feel guilty about how much more time my twin brother and I had with her. Mom went back to work when I was in middle school. I had a SAHM for the first 12 or so years of my life.

I cry at the most random times.

I also suddenly understand maybe how family members can fight over family possessions. I'm sure my mom's sisters won't all be thrilled that she's leaving me most of her diamond and sapphire jewelry, although I did suggest my SIL (twin's wife) receive one of the two necklaces. I'm also sure my mom's sisters won't believe that I care about the stories behind her jewelry. I don't want the jewels; I want the ring my parents picked out together when they got engaged. I want the earrings Daddy gave Mommy for their first anniversary, especially since he totally faked her out. I want the bracelet Daddy used to break the news to Mom that we were leaving sunny California for small town South. These are the stories I've made my parents tell me time after time, year after year. They're the stories I'll tell anyone who will listen when I want to share how much my parents love each other.

I want to know all the stories, and now I'm scared that I  won't know which questions to ask my mom before it's too late. I went through a few old battered pieces that I knew had stories and wrote them down with her the other day.

My mom's mom, my last surviving grandparent, died last September. Which of her stories are  now lost?

I'm home for a week, and my goal is to help my mom write her book, The Gifts of Brain Cancer.

While I love how loved she is, and how so many people want to visit her, I also want to shoo everyone away and just let me sit with my mom and get her book on paper.

I know where to go to get it formatted. I know where to look to hire a book cover designer. I know the entire process of getting her book on Amazon as a self-published work.

But she has to write it first, and I have to help her.

She's lost total mobility on her left side. She's still doing what she can with her right arm, but she's so incredibly weak. At least she's write-handed, so she can write things if needed. But her handwriting is atrocious, and there just isn't time to let her hand write the rest of her book. She's already spent a few hours with a good friend of hers, going through the handwritten pages she's done so far, and letting her friend type them up.

I hope one day I can be surrounded by bouquets of beautiful flowers for a happy reason, or no reason at all. I'm not even sure how many we have now. Five? But it seems like you only get showered with flowers when your world is falling down around you.

I feel like I've been so callous and uncaring in the past when people my age lost parents. Yes, I knew it was sad, and tragic, especially one neighbor who lost both of her parents to cancer within a few years of each other. But I didn't get it. If I met someone who already was without a parent, I spared a short thought, "That sucks" and moved on.

My dad was around my age, if not younger, when his dad died. I always knew my grandfather died young, in only his 50s, and I always wished I could have known him. But I was thinking about my grandmother. I never thought about what it was like for my dad to lose his dad in his 20s.

It doesn't seem real. It can't be real. Only my grandmother could out-sparkle and out-purple my mom.

I feel like I'm going to be the only one left. Yes, I'm my father's daughter in many ways, but I'm a Norwegian woman. I've always felt a special bond between me, my mom, and my grandma. I call us by my grandma's maiden name, not her married name aka my mom's maiden name.

I wanted so much to have my mom with me whenever I have a baby. I've wanted my own baby for so long, but Beau and I wanted a few years to adjust to married life. Plus my Crohn's has been so bad that my body probably couldn't healthily gestate a fetus right now if I tried.

My grandma stayed with my parents for six weeks when my twin brother and I were born. I always hoped my mom would stay with me for a few weeks when it was my turn.

I wish I could stay with my parents longer than a week. But I have to start Remicaide (an IV infusion of several hours) next Tuesday. At least I'll be back, with Beau and his parents, the last weekend in June.

My parents accept planning that far in advance, so I'm very cautiously optimistic that I'll have my mom for a few more weeks. The doctors wouldn't or couldn't give us a timeline.

If you've read my ramblings all the way through, thank you. Please keep my mom, my dad, and our whole family in your thoughts and prayers.


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