The Last Mile – Day 10

Today is about letting go. My mom was a fighter – I used to call her a tough broad. She battled things successfully throughout her life. Poverty. Alcoholic husband. Oppositional child (me). Anxiety. Cancer. She was in the process of fighting to get back to herself after her massive stroke. She very clearly told me that was her choice.

Yet, a bit more than a week later, I got a call from my sister, who was with my mom that night. “You have to come over,” she said urgently. “I think she’s changed her mind.” It was 10:30 at night, and I was exhausted. It was the first night since my mom’s stroke that I wasn’t with her – I was taking care of my daughter while her other mom went to a chorus rehearsal. It felt like a bit of a return to normalcy. A short respite. It was not to be. I drove back to The Falls, and asked my siblings if I could be alone with my mom.

“Mama,” I said, “remember we talked about whether you wanted to fight, and you said yes?” She said she remembered. “Is it time to let go?” “Yes,” she said. It hurts too much.” We were ready for this eventuality, and had already lined up a wonderful hospice.

“Okay, Mama,” I responded, “we’ll call the hospice, and we’ll get you something to help with the pain. We’ll get you some morphine.” “I don’t want morphine,” she said clearly. I panicked for a moment, wondering what the heck we were going to do – morphine was the gold standard of hospice care. I looked at her with worry on my face. “I want LESS-phine,” she informed me. I grinned at her and started laughing. I couldn’t believe it – she was making a decision that she wanted to die. A quintessential life-changing event, if ever there was one. My mom made a pun! A darn good one at that.

The only issue was that the next day was my daughter’s birthday. I asked my mom if she thought she could hold on for two more days, so that we could all celebrate together. She said she would try (spoiler alert – she succeeded).

I kissed my mom on her forehead, told her I loved her, and called the hospice. It was the beginning of the end of the end.

More tomorrow. Thanks for tuning in.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Maynard, MA, with my wife and and our two moose-cats, Samson and Hercules. My daughter used to live with me part-time, but she's all grown up now and in her junior year of college, which I can't quite fathom, since she was born about five minutes ago...
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