Lasting the four days in the hospital with my mother was, in some respects, an endurance test. Time seemed to be moving in slow motion and yet it was busy and full. There were visits from her friends, nurses coming and going and my attempts to gain information about my mother’s diagnosis.
At night the hospital activities surrendered to stillness with the occasional sounds of footsteps and the squeaky wheels of a cart being pushed along the corridor. That was when my mother’s worry peaked. As I lay on the lounge chair beside her bed, too exhausted to worry, I reached for any words that might bring her relief enough so that she would sleep.
Strangely, the relief came on the day that we received her diagnoses. I was sitting beside her, my stepfather was in a chair across from her bed when the team of Neurologists came in to her room. One of them wheeled in a monitor for displaying the scans of her brain. We listened.
It was brain cancer. It was large and growing exponentially. Treatment was not a realistic option. My mother took in the news with courage and grace. The harsh, unexpected diagnosis would have stunned me more had I not been in such awe of witnessing my mother’s composure over hearing that she was embarking upon her end of life journey.
I looked at the doctor’s face as he spoke, I looked at the images of my mother’s cancer on the monitor, but mostly I looked into my mother’s face. It was as if I were absorbing her courage. she asked reasonable, intelligent questions and while she listened to the answers I saw her gentleness and her fear. Her lips quivered a bit as the news sunk in.
I told her that I loved her and would do anything needed to honor her choice in regards to her end of life. Funny thing….this woman that had been my example of independence mixed with gentleness, of courage combined with sensitivity, now turned to me and said ” whatever you decide, Barbara”.