A childhood fear, an adulthood reality.
Winter, the 'death' of the seasons.
Part 1 of 3
When I was a child, my biggest fear was my mother or father dying. Morbid, I know, especially when you're as young as 4 years old.
My parents' death remained my biggest fear until I got married and had a child. My fears were much different when my daughter arrived. If she even sneezed funny, I acted like the world was going to end. Obviously, I was always a constant worrier, even as a child. "Acute Anxiety Disorder" is what the MD's call it. Everything worries me, all of the time, even to the point of panic attacks, But, my health is another story.
Anyway, towards the end of 2006, my mother grew increasingly ill. I will spare the horrid details. Eileen (my mom) was always a tiny woman. She stood about 5'2 and never weighed more than 98 pounds. At this time though, she was less than 80 pounds. We (my family and I) all knew she was sick , but we didn't know the extent of her sickness because she never led on that she was a ill as she was. My mother hated going to the doctor mostly because she was afraid. But, she would never tell you she was afraid of ANYTHING. She was too strong for that. Eileen was one tough cookie. She could handle anything with the greatest of ease. We all pretty much just let her be.
In January 2007, my sister took my mom to the emergency room at the local hospital. I will not name the hospital as I don't want to be sued in any way. My family and I were all relieved when the doctors told us her problem was 'stomach ulcers.' It was nothing to be overly concerned about, or so they said. Medicine every day, a few changes in her diet, and she would be fine.
My mother came home after a few days in the hospital. She seemed okay for a few weeks. Then, her symptoms began again. This time, my father took my mother directly to the doctors office. After a few visits to the doctor with him just telling her to "take her meds and rest, he finally decided to run some tests. That evening, the doctor called my mother and told her to go straight to the ER because her potassium level was dangerously low. American Idol was on, so my mom didn't want to go, but she had no choice. Only 2 months after being released from the hospital, my mother was back again with the same symptoms.
Once admitted into the hospital, one of the doctors noticed something was blocking my mothers colon. The hospital did a colonoscopy and an endoscopy. We were told she needed surgery. <These genius doctors were wrong about her ulcers and they should have ran these tests in January, but I won't get into that.> I, of course, was worried but my mom was a fighter. She stayed strong and positive, walking around, playing with Abby, watching the Phillies, and even being silly. I believed she could and would get through this. During her surgery, the doctors found cancer in her colon and tumors all over her gall bladder. The tumors on the gall bladder had to be biopsied. But, we knew she at least had cancer of the colon.
I visited her as often as I could. Before her surgery, on Easter Sunday, we stayed with her for a bit, but we had to get home. When I told her we had to leave, she replied: "You're leaving already?" Those words haunt me to this day. I should have found a way to stay. I should have stayed forever. This would be the last day my mother would see her granddaughter... my daughter, Abby.
Several days passed and my mother got worse and worse. She had severe c.o.p.d from all the smoking she did in her lifetime. She was put on oxygen.
Then came the worst day of my life. It was a Monday afternoon...April 15th, tax day. My sister called and asked if I was sitting down. Right then, I knew something awful happened. My sister told me that my mom's gall bladder was full of cancer and there was nothing the doctors could do for her. She had less than 2 days left to live. Being that I live an hour and a half away from the hospital, I had to pack my bags and drive... hoping to get to my mother in time to say goodbye.
That little girl who was afraid of her parents dying was back. I did not stop crying during the entire drive. I just couldn't believe it... my mom was dying.
When I arrived at the hospital, I saw my father and sister in the hall. I fell into my daddy's arms, my sister put her arms around me, and we all cried. My sister warned me that mom did not look good at all, she wasn't even lucid. But, she knew she was dying. She wasn't afraid, infact, she had said "Don't worry, I'm not afraid to die." As I entered the hospital room, I was horrified. My once strong, vibrant mother was literally on her death bed. I held her hand and told her that I was there. I kissed her forehead and told her I loved her about 50 times. I don't even know if she knew I was there. I couldn't keep my composure anymore. I left the room, fell to the ground, and sobbed.
Because I'm the baby of the family and I'm so "delicate", my sister and father did not want me at the hospial. I guess they were afraid I would have a stroke or something. I spent the night at my sisters. The next day, I didn't want to leave the bed. But I had to head home. I can't remember why I had to get home that day, but I did. Maybe I just didn't WANT to be in the area. That night, my sister called and told me that our mother had passed away. I was not with her when she passed and I'm glad that I wasn't. I wouldn't have been able to handle it. I know my mom understands. Part of me was happy that it was over and she was finally out of pain and at peace. I cried the whole night into the morning. My mother was at peace, but for the rest of us, our pain was just beginning.