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.


Niffer said...

Wow. Like you said, I'm here when you need me but we are trying to do exactly what you say you need... we actually force ourselves not to ask.

I just wish there was a way to send you hugs without you being reminded. =)

Mrs. Bird said...

I'm so sorry, Heidi. For all of it. I've been thinking of you. We're thinking of heading out to Chaco next weekend for the day. Are you up for it?

Chasey and Cash said...

I just called my mom...I'm sad for you, but thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to have her on the other end of the line.

Trish said...

Ugh. I'm sorry people are making it worse. Sometimes they just don't get it.
I realize this isn't the same thing, but when Robbie was in the hospital, my dad's girlfriend (they've been together more than a dozen years, let's just call her my stepmother) kept calling and leaving messages.
Now, I was in the NICU all the time. If I wasn't, I was pumping or trying to sleep. The phone was somewhere around 879th on my list of priorities.

One day they came to the NICU and she exclaims "I've been trying to get a hold of you, but you never call me back!" For just a moment, I thought she was joking. But then I realize she actually seemed confused. Why wouldn't I return her call?

Sometimes I just want to shake people and shout "IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU." (though I do see the irony that I just made the way-too-long blog comment all about me.

In any case, I wish there was something I could do to help. I know that's impossible. Just know that I'm thinking of you.


Heidi said...

Thanks all for letting me vent. It's okay to ask how I am, that's not so bad really. It's more the how is your mom question. (And constant phone ringing.) Even when I tell people that we are now at the very end, they feel the need to tell me that they are praying for her *complete* recovery, etc, is she better today? It's not a 1% chance kind of thing, it's a 0% chance kind of thing, you know? I need to be more accepting of all the phone calls -- I am her only child. It's just that my friends, her friends, our family,'s a lot of phone calls, and I have little kids.
YOU GUYS ARE GREAT. Thanks for being here for me.