Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So, I Hear Your Mom is Dying

As much as I wish it could be hijinks and hilarity around here 24/7, that's just not the reality.  So I'm gonna be real wit ya peeps, and talk about an uncomfortable subject.


My mom is dying.  She is in 4th stage congestive heart failure.  I'll spare you the gory details and medical mumbo jumbo about her extremely complicated case and give you the cliff notes.  Basically, everything that can be done, has been done and the only option left is a heart transplant.  So we wait.  And wait.  And wait some more.

It's not fair.  She's only 51 years old and should have lots more life ahead of her.  Instead, she spends her days bouncing around doctors' offices and hospital beds, just trying to survive long enough for a heart to become available.

Have I made you uncomfortable yet?  Wait, I'm not done.

Our society, as a whole, hates the inconvenient truth that we all die.  We love to pretend that dying and grief don't exist because it makes us uneasy.  It makes us consider our own mortality.  It makes us examine our own lives and question our actions.   It makes us wonder what kind of legacy are we leaving behind.  Did we fulfill our purpose?  Did we do the right thing?  Were we important enough to be remembered?  What is there beyond death?

So why do we hate death so much, if it's an immutable fact of life?  

Because it makes us feel helpless.  I never offer help, unless I genuinely mean it.  I'm a fixer by nature, (and a frequent offerer of unsolicited advice) but you can't fix death.  It's permanent and that's scary. How people deal with that fear is as varied as the people themselves.  

So, we come to my most hated question.  How are you dealing with it? 

While I don't mind answering, I never actually know how to answer that question.  What kind of answer is the questioner looking for.   I mean, I'm not the one sick and dying.  I'm dealing with it because I have to.  Do I want to?  No.  Does it suck?  Yes.  Am I scared?  Of course.  My mom and I are tight.  She's my homie.  My rock.  My most trusted advisor and confidant.  She "gets" me, the way nobody else can.  Am I scared for my own health?  Damn right, I am.  But I have the advantage of a 20 year warning that I intend to heed.  Am I going to break down and cry?  At some point, yes.  But mom ain't dead yet, and while I acknowledge all the terminal seriousness of her condition, I refuse to fall into a blackhole of grief or to live with a storm cloud hanging over my head.  She still needs me.  My babies still need me.  Being angry and depressed would serve neither and is a terrible way to live.   

So, we come to my point.  Death, with all it's suckitude, is a part of life.  We should treat it with respect, not avoidance, but not let it become all consuming, either.  We should have an open dialogue about death since, let's face it, everyone of us is going to experience it.  

*UPDATE:  Mom is still here and doing well.  :)  Thanks for checking in. 


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your Mom. She's so young. It sounds like you deal with things similar to me. Please make sure you don't bottle it in too long while you take care of everyone else. {{hugs}}

  2. So sorry to hear about your Mom, Amber. Much as one hates to wish for something to happen to someone else, hopefully a heart will become available for her soon.

    I don't know if it comes from doing genealogy for so many years, or if I'm just defective, but I'm almost blase' about death anymore. Or maybe I always was, I don't know.
    Sometimes I feel like I've lived a thousand years, and have seen so many people come and go.
    In actuality, though, I really haven't lost that many people really close to me; some great-grands and a pawpaw when I was a kid. I was pretty sure I'd fall apart when I lost my maternal grannie, who mostly raised me and I was closer to than anyone.
    But turned out I didn't. I loved having her for the time I had her, but then it was her time to go. She had cancer and it was very bad and painful and it was more of a relief that she was no longer suffering.

    A couple months ago my Dad was diagnosed with (I think this is right) Stage 3 Melanoma in his neck. The doc said if they hadn't caught it when they did, they wouldn't've been able to do anything and he'd have been gone in like 9 months. They did surgery and think they got it all, he didn't have to have chemo or anything.
    But at Thanksgiving he was talking a lot about "getting his affairs in order". He has a good many assets, and making sure they get where he wants them to go is worrying him. So I was talking about it with him, and my Aunt got all bent out of shape, she didn't like hearing him talking about it, and like I was 'picking over the remains' when he wasn't even gone yet.

    Well when he's gone, or too sick to deal with it, isn't the time to do it.

    I probably shouldn't tell her the Fire Dept a few years ago has already had us plan my husband's funeral.

    So anyway, yeah, to me death is pretty much a fact of life. I'm accepting, I guess, but my family thinks I'm uncaring.

  3. Hey, I realize this post is old, but I just saw it. I'll be praying for you all. How is your mom doing?

  4. Hey! Well, so far she's blown the odds to smithereens. 14 months ago, we were told not to expect her to make it to Christmas (a month). Then when she did, they said she wouldn't last 6 months....well she's 7 months past that deadline now too.

    So, I guess you could say she's good, but it's more complicated than that. She's sorta stuck in this twilight zone. Where, yes, she's alive, but it's kind of a half life. She's not well enough do much outside of watch TV and can barely get around without getting extremely winded because her heart is barely pumping enough to keep her alive. But, she's also not at the hospice -ie eminent death - point either. But always hovers just a moment away.

    But thats my mom. Other people would be dead at this point, but she has a will made of steel and an iron determination to live. I've got a lot to learn from her!

    Thanks for asking!!! We appreciate the prayers!