Mourning Morning


Putting together my notes, FaceBook posts, and Mom Book entries. One year ago today was this:

FaceBook post from 1/28/2017

Some of you know a bit about what’s happening with my Mom and the impact it’s having on me. I share this because I covet your prayers in coming weeks and months, if you think of it. Next week I’m going to TN to take her to doctor appointments as we try to get a diagnosis so that we can a) know what we’re facing and b) begin treatment of some kind, as her mental faculties and physical abilities fail her.

As I age I look back more with nostalgia, understanding, and love, rather than the loud anger and bitterness that once threatened (and at times overtook) my peace of mind and my generally happy and optimistic nature. I look forward with the same hope that has always spurred me, through gentle whispers, much of which I owe to my Mom. I am ashamed of many things in my past but it is exactly that- in my past, and I no longer live in fear of it. Now I face other giants; giants that aren’t mine so much as someone I love deeply and want so much to help.

I don’t know what we’re going to find next week, if anything. But I do know this. My Mom, who took in three desperate, pitiful little children, loved and raised them as her own, now needs me to help her. She is frightened and confused and so am I. I’ve told her no fewer than 20 times what day I’ll be there and that I have the schedule and addresses, etc, but she still asks me every day, many times in each conversation. Knowing I now need to be the strong one and stand for her, gives me strength I may not otherwise have. The tables turn and the adage “once an adult, twice a child” holds true.

She needs me and I need her. No matter our stormy past and arguments, years we were estranged (years of WASTED TIME- and WHY??!!!- mean things said and done, I don’t want to lose her in any way and knowing what may be coming in the near future is so frightening. Her body may stay here longer than her mind. Will she remember who I am? How long will she know me? Will she still love me? Will she be frightened of me? What if she’s alone and falls and no one finds her and she’s scared and no one comes?? How terrible the questions that cannot be answered.

My heart is breaking for her. Slowly. A little at a time. It’s like it’s being cut, shaved off, piece by piece. It’s excruciating and cannot be stopped. I ache to fix it and I know I can’t. I itch to explain to her and for her to remember what I say and I know that won’t happen. I know tomorrow we’ll have the same conversations all over again and she’s still be scared and confused the next minute.

I know many others have faced and are facing giants like this. I know we’re not the first or the only; it is even within our family. Perhaps the news we get in coming weeks will be better than I expect, and that low, deep dark, growl that’s in the background of my mind and causes my stomach to knot up and my heart to sink is just wrong. I pray so. But I pray for strength to face it, whatever the cause of that growl is; face it as biblical David faced his giant. I am so thankful for MY David, who is ever the voice of calm and reason, a strong and prayerful man of faith. I am blessed with a family who loves and friends who really care. I have so many blessings, and I am grateful for all. That doesn’t stop the pain but it does give some comfort.

I suppose there is some solace in expressing it. For me writing is best, as words often fail me verbally. I know this is long. I just needed to get it out. Sometimes it’s hard to click “Post,” isn’t it?

Much better days. Mom, my sister Teresa (left), brother Darwin, and me.

Today, 1/28/18, I look back on that day year ago in awe. I posted the above at 11:29am. Just hours later, at 6:35pm, Mom fell and sustained several injuries including two broken ribs, both sides of pelvis fractured in two places each, got stitches on her eyebrow, and spent ten days in the hospital. From there she went to a nursing home for therapies. I consider the morning of 1/28 as my Mourning Morning. The following week I’d put it together:

FB post 2/7/17 (initial diagnosis day). I spent most of last Saturday crying. My thoughts and prayers during that time were on Mom. David brought me food for lunch and supper, gave me hugs and quiet reassurances, and left me to my grief. It was exactly what I needed that day. I didn’t know that very evening I’d get a call that Mom had fallen and badly injured herself. I knew I was going to see Mom in a few days and I’d take her to some appointments, but didn’t know what was about to happen. Turns out that day of mourning was a God-send. His way of preparing me.

As I cried, prayed, and thought, I wrote on FaceBook about my fears. I ate my lunch even as tears fell down my cheeks. I stared at walls, the floor, a television that wasn’t on, the ceiling, all of it was blurred from tears. It simply didn’t stop for hours on end; at times silently and others big, deep, ugly sobbing on my knees. I wasn’t even certain all the reasons I was crying, and definitely didn’t know why I couldn’t stop, but I knew I couldn’t if I’d tried. I didn’t try, though. And finally, as I sat in dimming light and calm was washing over me, I got the call.

Mom needed me.

She’ll need me for a long time. And I intend to be there. The neurologist told us what we already knew but didn’t want to know. Regardless, hearing the words shocked me. Alzheimer’s had led to her mother’s death years ago, and another form of dementia has stricken her younger sister. The three of us (Mom, Darwin, and I) were quiet most of yesterday. Conversation returned more today as the “business” of all this continues, the mechanics of it, the logistics and planning, lots to do. In the middle of it all is the very personal of all this.

I started a “Mom book” last September. I keep it with me all the time in case Mom calls or I need to make a note of something for her. I intended the book to be for quips and quotes, memories, funny things Mom does and says. The last couple of weeks has been more about appointments and medical things than personal stories. But I will make a personal entry about this week as well. Here it is:

During the testing, the neurologist led Mom through a series of activities designed to test different areas of her brain. It was lengthy and some of it odd and seemed both rapid and random. I’d been thinking, “Dang I don’t think I could do this test.” Eventually he asked Mom to write a sentence, any sentence at all. Without hesitation she took the pen and paper, wrote a sentence and handed it back to him. He took the paper from her, read it, and busted out laughing- a good, genuine belly laugh. I said, “What does it say?” He showed me the paper. Mom had written, “This is nuts!”

Yeah, she’s still awesome.



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