Wednesday, March 10, 2010

End of Days

I met with Mother's medical team today so we could discuss some end of life issues.  As much as I have struggled with the issues she has presented me with over the past few years, realizing that I had a room full of people expecting me to map out the decisions about her care in what are likely the last month's of her life was rougher than I thought.  That power, if you will, to decide what is best for an individual who once made those decisions for you is a little hard to fathom.  I control life and death every day.  I have ten four-legged charges who are totally at my mercy.  I have been a parent.  I have been highly aware of Mother's situation for some time now.  But, here I am, staring at the moment and thoroughly unprepared for the emotional impact of it.

Dad went very quickly, from my perspective anyway.  Mother, I know, lived with his declining health far longer than I was even aware, but I got the call to come home late in a week, was booked on a flight, flew home on Super Bowl Sunday in 1992 and was without a father by the next Friday.  And I thought it was hard at the time.  I had no idea.

Here I am, having known Mother was staring down the wrong end of the barrel for literally years now, trying to reconcile all of it.  Life.  It has an expiration date for all of us.  And Mother is, frankly well past hers.  She has multiple fatal diseases, she has lived well past the national average, she hasn't taken proper care of herself for years and her toll is due.  And I allowed her to drink alcohol when she shouldn't, eat sweets, and in general partake in activities technically contra-indicated by her various conditions because I more or less figured that someone her age has the right to do what he or she wants as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else.  Now it's about to catch up with her, and I have to reconcile all of this.  It's a lot to wrap one's head around.  And in a way that's odd.  She's old.  Old people pass on so others may occupy that space.  My time will come.  Sooner, I honestly hope, than hers.  She has breathed air that Kelsey never got to.  This is the natural course of things, yet the fact that to an extent I will guide that course is horribly hard.

And the funny thing about all of this is that, who knows, she may still outlive all of us, and all of this gut wrenching moral soul searching may be for nothing.  That's the weirdest thing about life; it's never exactly by the script.

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