Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day One: Trying to Use My Words

What I really wanted and needed today was have some quiet time to myself. Quiet time, by myself, uninterrupted.

Strike one, husband had to work. Strike two, my little guy's birthday. Strike three, stay at home mom of an easily angered 23.5 month old. Strike four, I don't want to turn off my phone because there are people I want to be able to reach me: my kid's school, my husband, and my dad.

First thing first, after being told explicitly by her brother last night that I wanted a day without phones, and then reading on Facebook this morning that I wanted to have a day without phones, my sister-in-law, who last year didn't call, didn't send a present, or even a frickin card for either of my kid's birthdays, sends me a Facebook message wanting to know if it's okay for her to call. Right, because when your brother said, "The one and only thing you can do for Heidi right now is NOT CALL" he totally didn't mean it. It's opposite day, y'all!

In the 35 minutes that I was in the Cracker's classroom this afternoon I received 7 unsolicited text messages. The kids actually stopped singing happy birthday to my child to yell out "YOUR PHONE IS BEEPING AGAIN!" I don't have a text plan because I am a stay at home mom. If I can't talk then I can't text either. Seriously, if it isn't need-to-know-right-now-or-the-universe-explodes information fucking e-mail it to me. I promise I will enjoy your non-time-sensitive messages a few minutes (or, gasp, hours!) later when they don't cost me a quarter each. Really, seven BEEP!BEEP!BEEP! texts during a 35 minute party? No, not disruptive at all.


Scene: The Cracker's classroom. Enter Carmen's mom.

"How is your mom?"
Whispering. "She's gone. (Gulp.) But I'm here to celebrate the Cracker's birthday and he doesn't know."
"It is."
"When did she die?"
"Yesterday. But the Cracker doesn't know. I can't talk about it right now." And the kid is 5 feet away. Pretty sure this was the point at which I put my sunglasses on, cause you know, welling up now.
"When yesterday?"
Lady, I don't even know your first name. Fuck, I don't even know your your last name.
"Early afternoon. Excuse me, I need to go set up."
She follows. The Cracker comes over and attaches himself to my leg.

"Oh I think he knows. He was so sad yesterday. When are you going home?"
"We're not."
"Is she being cremated?"

What the fuck is wrong with people?! I am using my big girl words. Why can't they listen?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The End of the End

When we first had to tell my son that his beloved grandmother was dying he was 5 and a half years old. The only way I could think of to express maybe months, maybe a year, was to tell him that while she would probably live to see him be 6, we didn't have much hope that she'd make it to see him turn 7.

When Christmas 2009 passed March 30th became her new goal.

We never told my mom about what we'd told him, though I suspected she knew. More than once he broke down and tried to get her to promise that she'd come to his 7th birthday party. It was obviously more to him than regular birthday milestone.

After she made it past the hurdles of mid-February, the days where we thought she wouldn't make it through the night, I found myself worrying about the worst case scenario.

Please not near his birthday. A two week cushion, minimum, is not too much to ask for, right?

On Saturday the hospice nurses volunteered that my mom has taken a final turn, one that suggests she has reached her final 48-72 hours.

On Tuesday my little boy turns 7.

Please let them be wrong.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life Interrupted

It's been a month since I returned home from saying goodbye to my mom. It gets harder every day.

People call constantly -- they want to know how she's doing. When I don't call back instantly they call more. Ring, ring, ring, leave a message on my home phone. Ten seconds later ring, ring, ring, leave the same message on my cell phone. Repeat. People I hardly know ask me at school. Everyone wants to be informed. What's the latest? Do you want to spill your guts to me?

Thank you, but no.

How about now?

Nothing like trying to calm your mom down while you are both crying during yet another seizure or changing her diaper. AND THE FUCKING PHONE IS RINGING THROUGH IT ALL.

It's a lot like having a newborn for the first time. The needs are basic: clean, diaper, and feed. They sleep constantly but there's too much laundry, always an errand that needs running, and no time to shower let alone catch up on the sleep you didn't get the night before.


I feel like I've been honest with people all along, and it's just biting me in the ass. The more I give the more they want. "This is a death sentence." I told them that it would be a year or so. "There is no hope." I continue to give details like the fact that she's bedridden, sleeps 23+ hours/day, can no longer communicate, can't drink, can barely eat, etc, that I am waiting for "the" phone call. I tell them that I'll let them know when she's gone. I tell them that we think days, maybe a week, maybe two, but we don't know. I tell them we were 100% she wasn't going to make it through the night on February 17th. Then again on the 18th. We don't know, but I promise I will let you know when it happens.

And then they ask again, they call again. "How is your mom?"

Same as yesterday. Still dying. Thanks for asking.

She is so young! I really need to express to you how hard it is on me that you are losing her. I don't know what I'd do if it were my mom. Do you want to talk about it because I want to talk about it.


The truth is I lost my mom some time ago. Life is moving forward without her. I did not choose this, I am not ready for it, nor would I have been 20 years from now, but I am powerless to stop it. For more than a year I was consumed by cancer and death. And now, even though she is still here, she is gone. She can't talk, she can't respond, she can't swallow, she can't anything.

Ready or not, I am already having to find my way in the world without her.

The sadness? It's there, it's always there. There are times, like right now, when it's overwhelming and I do need a shoulder to cry on. Thank you for your offers, I will come to you when I need to, like I am now. But when I'm laughing and having a great time please stop interrupting to ask again. To tell me again. To remind me again.

Ring, ring, ring.


While I was gone my two best girlfriends ran into each other. They shared what they knew, had a good cry in the middle of a public library, and then made a pact to go home to call their own moms. They both told me about it later, each in their own ways, when the time was right.

I cannot even begin to express how much I loved hearing it.

I need you to talk about it with others. I need you to call your own mom. I have a whole lifetime ahead of me; there will be so many opportunities for you to be there, and I will need you.

I also need to be Heidi again, more than your friend with the mom who is dying of cancer way too young.