06 November 2008

Diminution

Her spark is gone.  She’s a weakened shell of a person, sitting in a wheelchair, no longer complaining about the profligate use of paper towels under her roof, or the stains on the living room carpet.  Disinterested in eating much other than toast, perhaps because toast is what she remembers to ask for.  She’s always cold now, this woman who for years hasn’t had the thermostat above 60° in the winter.  And she sleeps.  For a while, she’d claim to be awake with her eyes closed – no longer.

It’s harder and harder to get her up and out of bed – besides being weak, she’s lost some ability to control her legs, and a fall the other day reinjured the ankle she’d sprained last spring.  It wasn’t even much of a fall – just a gradual guided sinking to the floor between the bed and the wheelchair – but her ankle seems to have been twisted and now it hurts.  

Fortunately, she’s not otherwise in pain.  For whatever reason, the cancer, untreated for quite some time now, is not manifesting itself via pain.  Oh it’s there, we know it’s there, it doesn’t just disappear, but it’s not hurting her, not physically anyway.  

I wonder what she knows.  She hasn’t recently said "I don’t know how much longer I’ll need to be in this hospital bed", but when she did say it, not so long ago?  She was planning to get better and move back upstairs into her own bed.  I honestly don’t know if she knows that she’s dying.  How does one know?

41 comments:

kathy a. said...

(((( magpie )))) my thoughts are with you and moky, and your family.

she may not be in a place where she can say it right now, but i hope you know in your heart how much it means that you have been with her on this journey. xoxoxo

alejna said...

Oh, Magpie. How hard it must be for you to see her incredible strength slipping away.

I'm glad to hear that she can sleep, and is not in much pain.

I'll be thinking of you both.

Mayberry said...

I wonder what she does know. It sounds like such a twilight state, so slow as to be almost imperceptible, especially when you're right in the midst of it.

RuthWells said...

Oh, Magpie, I'm so sorry. We went through a similar journey with my grandmother last fall, and it's not easy. Thank goodness she's not in pain.

Waiting Amy said...

Mags, I just can't imagine how difficult it must be to watch this change. My mom has really aged in the last 5 years, and I still haven't figured out how to cope with the changes. But it doesn't nearly compare to what you are facing.

Thinking of you often sweetie.

Ashley said...

What a hard time. I went through this with my dad, when I didn't know if he knew he was near death---the two to three days before he died, he was almost comatose, and I'm not sure if it was the illness or the medication. We were thankful he was not in pain.

Thinking about you.

Marinka said...

I am so sorry, my thoughts are with you.

Elissa said...

Dreamt of you all last night. We think of you and Moky lots these days.

Eva said...

I'm so sorry. My grandmother's really declining too. She cries all the time and at night doesn't know where she is. She asks if they're at home.

Aliki2006 said...

I'm thinking hard of you...

My grandmother, who passed away from a brain tumor just over a year ago, had a lucid moment and she sat up suddenly and said, calmly, "I'm dying." I wasn't with her, but my mother said she didn't seem frightened, or horrified, just calm.

wheelsonthebus said...

this must be so hard for you. having to watch but being unable to change much...

Aunt Becky said...

*hugs*

Magpie, I'm so sorry.

*hugs*

Her Grace said...

I'm so sorry too. From your stories, I gather your mom is a spirited lady, and this change has to be difficult. I'm so glad to hear she is not in pain.

Take care, Maggie. My thoughts are with you.

Janet said...

It's just so tough to go through this, and I'm sorry...

Gwen said...

I'm sorry, Maggie.

Is it better that she doesn't know or worse? I always wonder that.

MadMad said...

Oh, honey. It must be so hard to watch her go through this. I'm so sorry!

crazymumma said...

oh sweetie. I have been there I have done that. I am wishing you strength and for her, no pain.

crazymumma said...

oh sweetie. I have been there I have done that. I am wishing you strength and for her, no pain.

Anjali said...

I am so, so terribly sorry. Wishing you strength and peace.

susan said...

I'm so sorry--but also glad to see how well cared for and how loved she is. I hope that's a comfort to you all.

Vodka Mom said...

that was very painful to read. I am so sorry, and sending you strength. there Did you get it?

slouching mom said...

you are constantly in my thoughts. i hope you know that.

phd in yogurtry said...

Heartbreaking, for both of you. Have you talked to her about dying? To see if she thinks about it, what she thinks about it? She may find that comforting.

Irish Goddess said...

I don't know how you do all you do. My thoughts are with you, and I hope you continue to have strength. You are such a good person, a good daughter.

flutter said...

You are brave and good, and I am holding your hand in spirit

Melissa said...

I usually don't comment if there are already this many comments, but I thought this was an appropriate exception. This has to be unbelievably difficult for you and your family. Please know that you have an amazing amount of cyber support out here for you.

{{hug}}

the mama bird diaries said...

Oh I am so sorry. This must be so incredibly painful for you. Sending you lots of prayers, love, light and support.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Do you have hospice help? They really know what to tell you and how to read the situation.

I could not have gone through my mother's and sister's deaths from cancer without the help of the amazing people at hospice.

Thinking of you.

S. said...

You show us that as she recedes into herself she doesn't lose dignity, or grace.

I think that in your care, you are letting her keep those things, Magpie. I think you are doing right by her.

Kelley said...

Oh babe.

I don't know what to say. So hard. So hard for you. I can only imagine.

I am here for you if you need me, you know that right?

Love to you babe. Flying across the ocean.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Thinking of you all Magpie. Have something small for you over at my place. x

FreshHell said...

Ugh, how heartwrenching. I guess your question can only be answered by those going through it. And then they can't tell us. Perhaps that's why we try to make contact with ghosts - for some of those unanswerable answers. Have you read Elisabeth Kubler Ross? I've found her death and dying book to be a comfort (since the bible's out) at times like these. Hang in there.

She She said...

Magpie, that's almost unbearably sad. It must be hard to open yourself up to experience this. Thinking of you.

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Kyddryn said...

Oh, sugar, I'm so sorry...

She knows. She knew a long time ago, and she hasn't forgotten. She may hope, but she still knows...but perhaps she doesn't show it because she doesn't want to pain the people she loves, the people who love her. Or perhaps she chooses not to think about it, because it isn't a subject one may comfortably ponder for very long, being ignorant of the end result as we are - oh, we may think we have an idea what happens in the end, but we have no proof, no experience, and nothing more than faith to base our assumptions on.

I'm sorry you are all experiencing this long, slow, fade. It sucks. To say I am wishing you well sounds weak...but I am, and I don't know how else to say it.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

bernthis said...

This is my first time here and I just wanted to say, I too, am so sorry for both you and your mom.

Barb McMahon said...

Wishing you strength and comfort and lots and lots of support.

Sometimes, the hardest part is knowing that we can't really share the journey with them. We just stand by and do our best to help them make the journey alone.

I'm so sorry this is so hard.

Furrow said...

I haven't been through this myself, so I can't pretend to know what it's like. But, you know ... hugs, if you don't mind. It sounds like she is getting a lot of love in the best surroundings for the transition, whatever it entails.

womaninawindow said...

OOohhh.
What is there to say. It makes no sense and all the sense and sucks. I'm sorry for this, for you, for her, for everyone. I hope for peace. Sounds stupid, but it's genuine.

painted maypole said...

oh, how hard for you.

I think she knows. I think e all know, at least if we allow ourselves to.

Defiantmuse said...

I keep thinking about you and Sarah and your mothers. So hard, Maggie. I'm so sorry, I can only imagine how difficult it must be. xo