For the most part, because we're on "high alert" waiting for that final phone call, I haven't been around a lot of people in the last week. I haven't felt much like being social, which is just weird for me, but also I've had so much to do making sure I'm ahead on writing projects and whatnot in case I'm off the grid for more than a couple of days. By the time the evening rolls around, and I'm able to write for myself or work on getting my office back in order, that's all I really want to do.
That, and Randy and our dog Waylon don't ask me how I am or how Mom is. They don't give me sad looks that make me feel worse. I don't feel guilty for not being sadder at a given moment. I can be frustrated about obituary placement prices (scandalous) or be upset about a specific problem, and Randy doesn't overdo the sympathy. He listens, and hugs, and we move on.
My mom's illness is a "long goodbye" at least as terrible, as all-consuming, as Alzheimer's. Grief and mourning have been close friends of mine for so long now, I don't know if I recognize a change. People tell me, this must be so hard, and well, it is - but there is a lot more to it than just the surface, easy stuff. Grief for a loved one who has suffered so much is very complicated. There's relief, there's gratitude, there's sadness, there's an element of joy even. I'm a Christian, my mother is a Christian - I know she'll wake up walking in heaven. Not everyone believes that, I understand that, but it is what we believe. With that in mind, it is very hard to want her to stay, to keep her body alive when she can no longer be the woman we knew.
I wasn't very social all this week, partially because of all of this. And then this weekend we had a veritable whirlwind, particularly today, seeing our closest friends at church and then seeing many of Randy's extended family at a birthday party. I'm just beginning to really show (I'll be 20 weeks pregnant later this week) and everyone had to say something, and we don't see some of these people often, so there were lots of questions and a lot of baby discussion. And of course, there were the sad looks, the "how is she?" questions. It was a trying day for me. I don't know what to say anymore. I never really did - there was even a point where I didn't tell some friends about her illness right away, because I had to explain what it was and go through that pitying, sad look from a lot of people I didn't know very well. For a long time, if Mom wasn't in the hospital, we were just thankful for "status quo". Even when that meant she was falling in the kitchen and refusing a wheelchair, or when she could no longer type coherent words or sentences on her speaking machine, or when the only movement she had left was blinking and occasionally raising a stiff and shaky "thumbs-up" to Dad.
These days, the status quo is heart and lungs giving out. Blood pressure you can hardly detect. Pale, wan, pinched look that has totally deprived my mother of her real appearance (how she would hate to see her gray hair and ruined complexion!). A full coma, her eyes not open for over two weeks, her eyes totally unseeing for longer. The only change will be her passing. Everything else is another sign, another slip.
Anti-social? Not really. Just too busy listening for the phone to ring, to spring into action. My bag is already packed.