“I love you”: Just One More Time

I love you.  Can I just say it one more time?

She was bouncing off the table a million times a minute – or so it seemed.  She had aspirated her own fluid during a procedure and was now laying down on a table/board/bed, swollen like a sumo wrestler, comatose through medication.  I just wanted to say “I love you” one more time.

What a wonderful woman.  A woman who was attractive to men even though her body was starving to death at 98 pounds or less.  A woman who served food to over 1,000 people in her back yard while going into her bedroom every so often to vomit bile into a small sandwich zip lock bag.  A woman who never, ever complained no matter how sick or depressed she felt.  A woman who served three meals a day to her family – and many times visitors – while absolutely hating to cook.

A woman who travelled anywhere from 5 to 12 hours to desperately try to live by trying some random alternative solution – legal and semi-illegal – that would possibly increase her lifespan so she could live to see her grandkids.

A woman who travelled with her family in the car for hours on end while nauseated as all get out so that her husband can pursue his dreams and goals within his church.

She housed 4 households (couples, siblings, and children) – or more in her house over a 3-day weekend so that they could enjoy someone’s wedding or funeral.  2 bedrooms, 2 couches, who-knows-how-many cots, and the floor were full to the max with single people, couples and families as they slept.

She was a woman who gave into her daughter’s desire to host get-togethers with families and young adults for something to do and to encourage the sense of community even though she needed her alone time and was feeling sicker-than-a-dog.

She cleaned the house at least once a week and kept it immaculate to please her husband, making the house a home.  She always had a garden and flowers to bring beauty to the outside.  Her home always looked and smelled heavenly – inside and out.

She was a woman who put on a backpack full of pesticide solution to save her plants in the effort to contribute to her medical bills.  That backpack was so heavy my neck screamed in pain after putting it on for less than 3 seconds.  She wore that thing for hours to the point that the straps dug into her shoulders of an emaciated body and left grooves in them.  Her eyes looked a bit glassy from all the meds she had to take in order to overcome the pain.  She never once complained.

She was a woman who had to wheel her TPN bag everywhere she went in order for her to survive.  She wheeled that thing into a store to buy food and pesticides and whatever-else needed to feed her beloved mini trees and bushes.  Her socks were askew; her dress could literally fit 3 or 4 of her.  While she was doing this, her gastric bag exploded.   Green and brown stuff went all over the place and the store clerks had to pick it up.  She was absolutely, thoroughly humiliated; but she continued to do what she could do to watch out for her family.  To pay her medical bills so we could have food to eat and clothes to wear.  To help her feel less humiliated and more human.  To make her feel like she could contribute somehow, some way.

She was a woman who put her family and her church before herself.

It killed her.  Slowly.  Very, very slowly.  Painfully.  Excruciatingly.  In every cruel, torturous way possible.

For 12 days she fought in order to stay alive.  She fought even when comotose.  She was in pain that wasn’t properly regulated.  Her medical providers didn’t know because she couldn’t speak nor could she make significant facial expressions.  I knew only because of the hours and hours I had spent with her over many, many years.  They didn’t ask me.  They wouldn’t have believed me anyway.  Still, she fought, even amidst the pain.  Against all odds.  But, her body was failing her.  Her liver was giving out along with her kidneys.

It was the end.  We had a meeting.  We had to decide:  Keep her alive? or pull the plug?  We all had to agree.  We had no real choice, but pretended we did.  My dad learned about the cost associated with her staying alive.  He said “I want to get on with my life.”  He pulled the plug.  I do not know why my sister said “yes.”  I said yes because she was in pain.  I hate pain and suffering.  I didn’t want her to suffer her excruciating pain for another 2 hours – the time I sensed it would take her to die the rest of her slow, painful death.  The doctor said “You will always regret this.”

I don’t regret it.  She had suffered enough.  No one understands that 1 second of pain is like misery lasting millions of years.  I only understood that because of the sit-ups and pull-ups we had to do in middle school.  Every single second feels like eons.  To let someone live in pain is worse than the worst of cruelty possible.  It’s worse than a sick, twisted murderer torturing someone to their slow, painful death – or life.  She had already suffered that form of cruelty now and for over 25 years. They had already stopped giving her all meds.  It was time for the torture to stop.  And stop now.

She was a woman who loved more than she was ever loved.

As she lay there, blown up like a water-logged sumo wrestler, bouncing off the table through an infant respirator, all I wanted to say is: “Mom, I love you.”  One last time.  With her alive.  With her awake and at least semi-coherent.

I know she loves me.  I know she knows I love her.  But, as she was bouncing off the table, and they let her come out of her medically induced coma briefly, I wanted to say that one more time.  It wasn’t to be.

I love you, mom.  You are wonderful.  An inspiration.  Someone who loved.  And are loved.

May you rest in peace and love, light and goodness, health and well-being.  You are missed.  You are loved.

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