Monday, January 21, 2013

[The Life of Shaun #463] Live, Laugh, Love

Mom's decline from a surprising burst of energy Friday to today has been steep and sudden.  Friday night was family night, with Janine and my Aunt Judy (Mom's twin) coming over.  We had a great dinner, Mom ate pretty well, and we played cards (Mom kicked our asses, by the way - and we were not playing nicely!); Mom was alert, joking and smiling, giving us high fives.  It was a great night, but at the end Mom started to fade, and putting her to bed was the same choreographed traumatic dance it'd become in the days prior.

Saturday she slept more of the day than not, but was still up for dinner and cards, and even had part of a margarita.  But she barely ate and Lara did most of the work as Mom stared at the cards.  Sunday she only got out of bed in the morning because her sister was still here, and she wanted to spend some time with her before she left; that was just about 90 minutes.  We tried to wake her up at 5:00 for dinner time, and she wasn't budging.  Then again at 8:00 as she wanted to watch a movie, and she tried to be awake, but couldn't.

Today, Mom is nearly comatose, figuratively, if not clinically.  She's mostly asleep, only occasionally opens her eyes, and she is having delusions.  She'll smile at times when she recognises a story or someone she likes, and sometimes she tries to talk, but it's mostly unintelligible.  It's stunning to us how fast this happened, how quickly we lost the woman, the personality, that we knew as our Mom.

As discordant as it may sound, this rapid descent into an unaware state is a mixed blessing.  In the past week, it seemed as if Mom was approaching the edge of where the amount of good she was able to have each day would no longer outweigh the pain and indignity she was suffering.  We know from several experiences of friends the alternative path this story could take, the unknowable and unbearable stretch of time, bedridden as the pain grows and becomes ever more agonising.  

Our Mom's had a wonderful life, full of close friends, full of more joy than sorrow, and certainly full of love, given and received.  We want her to have as wonderful a death as she can.  These past six weeks, despite all the pain and sickness, have been wonderful.  Mom had her family, the thing that truly brings her joy, living at home with her to share and enjoy her life.  It may sound odd, but they have been some of the happiest days she's ever had.  Could anyone ask for a better way to go out?


Mom enjoying a cigarette with her twin sister and Dad in the smoking lounge we built outside; this is the last pic we have of Mom from a good day.

Mom's life motto, hung on her wall.

Shaun H. Coley | At large in Naperville, IL |
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