Monday, November 8, 2010
For almost three years now I've been the primary caretaker for my husband's mother. She's been trying to convalesce with us, contributing to our family and challenging/expanding my knowledge of both allopathic and naturopathic health care. Last week her body took a critical turn and she is now in end-of-life stage.
Blessed, beautiful friends take time to email their condolences. These notes often include compassionate apologies for our suffering. The thing is, God is walking through this with us, and we are not suffering. As we stand by N's ICU bedside and work to comfort her and interpret her needs and wants for the nurses as best we can (she is not a typical patient in that she can barely talk or respond to questions now, so ideally she needs someone who knows her standing by 24/7), it is exhausting and sad, but also somehow satisfying. It is the same feeling that caring for her for the past three years has often produced. There is something "right" about returning the gift of care that someone else has provided for you in the past.
What feels odd to me is the lifting of responsibility. Suddenly, she can never live with us again. Suddenly, I no longer have a 9am deadline to poach an organic egg, double-toast a piece of her favorite English muffin bread, or section half a grapefruit. I feel like a hermit crab, about to shed my exoskeleton.
But the race is not completely over. Today I have to wake my children and head to the hospital. Today is the day we find out what comes next. I hope we will all end well...