NOTES FROM THANKSGIVING 2017
I just spent this Thanksgiving with my mom. It is most likely to be her last. The cancer she has continues to grow as far as we know. And she is choosing to stop treatment after the latest immunotherapy cycle stops in the next two weeks.
The next steps are unknown. We don’t know how this will unfold, except she likely will have more pain. So far, it has been more managed with the addition of long-acting morphine with generic Vicodin as needed.
So why is life good?
I say this because I have had the privilege of being with her and seeing her strength through all that is—the unknown, the pain, the many visitors, including her daughters and grandsons and grandnieces. She has a new worry; her hair is growing again. The wig itches when it is on and slides more easily.
She remains proud and moves as much as she can. She is still in command of her kitchen and cooks when she can.
Her new husband of more than a year stands next to her, dutiful yet ornery. He often brings a smile with some of his antics. Sometimes I notice some exasperation on my mother’s face. He is a collector and she is not; the many Christmas items are making their appearances as he rearranges the pictures and other objects vying for the limited space in the condominium. She is accepting of the changes in this moment.
Life is good.
She has not had any adverse reactions to any of the treatments as yet that would land some people, much younger than her, in the hospital. Clearly she has a strong constitution. Her mind is strong as she shares her opinions about my driving or my apparel. She notices details in some ways then forgets other details.
Her affection for children remains. When she sees her 3-year-old great-grandson on FaceTime, she smiles and easily talks to him. It warms her heart to speak her grandchildren. They connect and visit when they can.
Life is good.
I accompany her to the latest doctor appointment. I am able to be with her and assist in the conversation. We are at a crossroads, and it is hard to talk about it, but we do. My mom and I cry but still ask the hard questions about next steps. Respecting her wishes is most important for me to do so. I say as much to her.
Saying goodbye is more difficult these days. I am easily moved to tears. “Don’t cry!” my mom admonishes me as she starts to cry.
“The tears won’t stop today!” I share as they wash down my cheeks.
Each time with her is more precious than the last. Gratitude fills my heart as I start my journey home. I have had this time with her. It was good.
My mother is surrounded by those who love her, near and far. What a gift that is!
Life is good.