Life Happens, So Does Death

Back in January I got an email from my aunt letting me know my mother was in the hospital again.  Things didn’t look good.  She had jaundice, dehydration, a blockage near her liver, and a few other things going on.  They said she wouldn’t survive dialysis if she needed it.  Then things started to clear up and improve for the most part, but there was still things wrong.  Tests and scans were ordered.  Other than a passing mention of my mother saying she was going to be starting chemo for stomach pain, as she put it.  There was no actual diagnosis issued that I was aware of.

Oh yeah, did I mention we’ve been estranged for the last 15 almost 16 years?  She decided one day for reasons only known to her that she didn’t want me or my girls in her life.  With that decision, I didn’t hear from her for 5 years.  Until she needed some papers on my father.  She was entitled to some money you see.  Well of course she knew me then!  After I sent her what she needed, I never heard from her again.  During that time, I went through my grieving and angry period. 

Okay so she’s showing signs of improvement and the hospital decides she is well enough to be moved to a nursing home for rehab and physical therapy from a stroke she had last year.  It seems like when she was there is when she was told finally that she had pancreatic cancer.  But they never said what stage she was in.  About a week and half later, I get an early morning (like 5 AM early) call from the ER.  She’s dehydrated again and she has respiratory issues.  They are asking for my permission on things.  WOAH!  What? Wait!  I’ve not seen or heard from her in 15 years and you want me to do what?

I did not like being in this position.  In fact I hated it.  This was not my call, not my place to make these decisions.  I wanted to tell do what ever the hell you want.  Yes, I’m her daughter.  But she left me 15 years ago.  She doesn’t get to have me make those choices.  I kept asking if there was a proxy or could she assign one.  They said she was in no condition to and they didn’t have one.  Did I know of one?  NO!  I did not know if she had one!  Given her history and track record, I was inclined to say no she didn’t.

A couple of hours later, I have the admitting doctor asking me if I want to list her as DNR.  W..T..F??  I’m not her god damned proxy!  This is NOT my fucking decision!  Hell I couldn’t even understand half of what the doctor was saying with her thick accent and fast talking.  I told her what I told the ER doctor, we’ve been estranged.  I don’t know of a proxy.  I don’t know what she wants.  In the end, I told them to list her as DNR.  Bottom line was she was dying.  Pancreatic cancer, based on what symptoms I knew her to have, she was end stage and the survivability rate is zero to none that late in the game.

The next day I heard nothing.  I was hoping she’d come around enough to tell them what she wants.  The day after, well, that was a different story.  Got another call, she’s declining.  They want to remove the BYPAP mask.  Do I consent.  Yes, she end stage in her cancer (finally an actually confirmation). Suddenly the doctor, I mean nurse practitioner, says I’m sorry I can’t discuss this with you but I will take your wishes into consideration.  HUH???  She found a health proxy in my mother’s file.  WHY THE FUCK did it take so long to find???  She said she was going to call the named party and hung up.  Two hours or so later, she passed away.

Now I’m just angry.  Angry that she didn’t care enough to think of these things that are important.  Like what should be done if she was in this kind of situation, who would be responsible, things like that.  Angry that she cared more about gambling then anyone or anything.  If it had value, it got hocked so she could gamble some more.  Gambling was more important then having a relationship with her granddaughters. 

But I/we weren’t the only ones she cut out of her life.  Over the years, she managed to burn bridges and lose friends time and time again.  In the end, the only person that actually talked to her or visited her in the hospital and nursing home was my aunt.  She used predict that for others, I wonder if she ever saw it happening to herself.  But it was all by her choices and actions.

It’s been three weeks now since she passed and I cannot grieve.  I cannot cry.  This has opened old wounds I thought long healed.  And they were, until this.  I had made my peace and come to terms.  I did my grieving years ago when she decided I no longer existed.  I grieved for my daughters not having a grandmother.  I am slowly letting go of the anger, slowly healing again.  But I am not grieving.  Maybe one day, I will be able to weep for her.  But it is not now, it is not today.



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