Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

We recently found out, after months of you feeling ill, that you’ve been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer that has spread to your lymph nodes in your armpit and chest. While I understand why you’ve decided to not pursue treatment, I feel it’s really unfair that I’m going to lose my mommy and by best friend all at once.

And I’ve been crying almost non-stop for weeks. I’ve been able to pull it together enough to go to work each day, but really not any more than that.
Cry. Work. Cry. Sleep. That’s pretty much the makeup of my week days. Weekends I’m down to visit you, but really just change “work” to “caring for you and Dad” and that’s my weekends.

My only real down time is driving downstate and back up north on either end of the weekend, and still then I only maintain my grip because I know it would worry you if I were to cry while driving. So, I put my earbuds in my ears and turn on some podcasts to try and distract my mind from weightier issues.

I’m sorry that I worry you with the panic attacks that I’ve been trying, somewhat unsuccessfully, to hide. It’s just so much to know that you won’t be here to talk to in the future. Of course, I’m an adult so I’ve known in the abstract it would happen someday, but now it’s no longer abstract and my mind and body don’t know how to deal with that. The caring for you and Dad helps burn off some of that adrenaline so at least I can do something productive.
So, I drive down and do laundry, cook, grocery shop and make you eat real food. It’s the only thing I can do in an attempt to find my footing again.

Dad. Well, I don’t know how he’s doing. On the surface he seems to be doing well with all of this, but I’m concerned that he’s tapping into a well of strength that isn’t as deep as it used to be. That’s the thing about Alzheimer’s that no one warned us about – he can push himself sometimes and come off as if he’s not failing, but once that well runs dry he ends up in such a state that he’s worse off than he was before. But how do you tell a man not to take care of his wife and children in order to save himself?

The fact is I know you do something similar to yourself when I’m in town. And for now I’m letting you, even thought I know it isn’t the healthiest thing for you.
It’s selfish of me, but it’s just so nice to see those moments of your being fully you.

I love you.

M

 

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