Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On Death

So fair warning, this post has nothing to do with gaming, rather this
is me putting some inner demons to print.

It has to do with dying,
It has to do with pain,

It has to do with grieving, 
It has to do with peace.

Of those, the latter is denied the living, and the former is in ready supply.

My mom is dead. 

Before that she quite enjoyed Coke classic in a glass full of ice and watching her grandson
tear around the house with the sort of reckless abandon and joy a small child can experience and we
grown-ups can only envy.

She liked watching birds with us out the kitchen window at family meals as greenery and trees with birds were both in short supply back in Arizona where she had lived for the past three decades. The last decade of which she was in increasing isolation as her mobility faded, after my dad had been reaped by Death's right hand man, Marlboro.

There is no easy way out.

She had problems with anemia, and increasing lower back pain so we found ourselves on the way back to the hospital again as my wife,the only member of our household not in complete denial about my mom's state of health called paratransit.

My mom was furious about that, but she was also terrified. On the ride to the hospital she said simply: "I'm scared."

When you hear those words coming from your parent, that is the moment where roles reverse and
you have to take charge.

I didn't want that.

Who the fuck does?

The pain was intense, I knew that first night something more than anemia was at work as even morphine was only taking the edge off. Needless to say she was admitted for further testing and transfusions.

"You better take her wheelchair home with you as they tend to wander off in hospital." was the advice the nurse gave me that night. We live almost across the street from the hospital, so after I said goodnight to my mom I took her empty wheelchair, and wheeled it down the street in the dead of night.


She was pissed as hell at us for taking her to the hospital. My family has no shortage of will, which often manifests at precisely the wrong time, her 'piss and vinegar' was what was keeping her going.

Room 404. Tech jokes aside I knew that when I walked up to her room,the door fully closed and the nurse gently telling me that the doctor was in with her, I knew what it was.

"It's never Lupus" - Dr. House

"It has metastized into the spine, the lungs and appears to be renal cell carcinoma, but we need to test."

So anyone who has been involved with the big 'C' knows what comes next: terror, fake bravado, and as is our family tradition quite a bit of gallows humor, as the old saying goes 'if yer gonna swing, might as well sing'.

"Shit, I'm not going to see the new Star Wars movie." is what my mom said. Like Coke, her grandson and birdwatching she also enjoyed the crap out of Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings and the Expendables.

She was a journalist by trade, and an artist by love but she enjoyed a good explosion as much as the next person.

What came next was a flurry of paperwork, as we had discussed for almost 15 years from shortly after she was diagnosed with Lupus and was fairly certain she didn't have long to live.

Hot Pink. The color of the Do Not Resuscitate  form that is.

She was already getting confused, when she heard the word 'cancer' she remembered how her mom died, and at the moment I learned how I am most likely going to die as well.

She went in to get the cancer 'typed', but we had already decided that no aggressive measures were to be taken, this was getting to be for 'insurance reasons'.

What followed was her rapid slide both physically and mentally.

You don't have to go home but you can't stay here.

You don't get to stay in the hospital to await test results. The only thing keeping her there was pain management and even that was tenuous.

I pushed for in-patient hospice as there was no way we could do that at home, not with a small child and two adults in the house.

She sort of agreed, but was no longer sure of what was going on as she was either in a morphine induced haze, screaming for help or asking in a weak little girl's voice for 'more medicine'.

I had power of attorney.

I signed the papers.

She called when they came to send her to Hospice, my last 'semi lucid' conversation with her where she asked me what the hell I was doing to her, why would I do this to my own mom? Why couldn't she come home?

I did it because there was nothing else to do, and no one else to do it.

I'm good at making cold hard decisions like that.

I'm good at being mostly calm about it.

I'm good at falling the fuck to pieces when its done and nobody can see.

I'm good at putting those pieces back together into a bit of a harder, colder shape
after that.

Terminal Dementia is the clinical definition for when you get to see and hear your mother screaming  "Won't somebody please help me?!?!?" to nobody and nothing in particular.

She did it with fading intensity for three days.

Then she was mostly still , we brought our son to see her one last time. He was quiet when he saw her and wanted to leave the room ASAP.

I asked him if he was sad, and he said yes, because grandma was going to die on Daddy's birthday. This managed to choke up at least one Hospice worker.

We went to go play with train toys in the waiting room for a bit.

He gave one of the toy trains pretend cancer.

Two days after my birthday I was woken by a call from the Hospice telling me that she had died.


You were the best mom a son could wish for, and you had a year to meet your grandson and
see him grow.

You were always there for me and gods know that was not an easy job as I was a bit of a shit, particularly as a teenager.

Your grandson continues to be a handful, we still watch the birds out the window, and so long as
we live your memory will be with us.

Whatever happens after death, I hope you have found peace, and I will always love you.


I drank the rest of your Coke.


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