I have been mourning the death of my mother for probably about three years.
I say probably because my mother is still living.
About ten years ago my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that attacks the nervous system. Each of your nerves has a casing around the length of a long strand that enables the signals that travel through your brain and nervous system to act at the rate at which it does, so when you want to say a word, lift your arm, type on a computer you do not have to consciously tell each muscle what needs to do what in order for the activity to be performed. With MS your white blood cells think your nerves are attacking the body so they attack the nerves and wear down the cells myelin sheath (the casing).
All that to say it slowly breaks down body functioning and it’s one of those weird diseases that has so many varied symptoms case to case that it is difficult to diagnose and then difficult to track, not to mention there is no cure.
For the first couple of years after the diagnosis (which was comparatively fast) seemed like the disease wouldn’t affect our family that much. Mom just got tired a lot faster than she used to, which just meant instead of working all day, making dinner, and working on household chores, she just worked all day and made dinner. After a while she stopped making meals, the heat seemed to bother her more than anything. Then she got in an accident and stopped driving. Then she got let go from her job, but that seemed like a blessing because she was exhausted all the time and it provided a nice severance.
Slowly but surely Mom slowed down, but she was still my mom, a rapier wit and full of wisdom. She always seemed to know what to say. The first year at college I was able to see the changes better. When you are with someone as they consistently change you don’t see the gradual shifts, but when you only see your family every once in a while you see the different milestones better. When Mom started using a walker I knew things were serious, but I don’t think I realized how bad it was getting until a Disneyland trip.
We had passes so we would go probably once a week or at least once every other week. We brought the wheelchair because it was easier to maneuver. We had begun to stick mostly to rides it was easy to get in and out again. This time we thought Matterhorn was a good idea because it was low to the ground and the way the seating used to be, she could sit right in front of my dad and he could hold onto her.
I don’t think I can ever forget the sound of her crying throughout the entirety of the ride. It wasn’t a sad cry, but a terrified wailing.
The problem was because she couldn’t hold herself up she felt like she was going to fall out. You know the game jello where you “let loose” to fall and sway with the turns on a car trip, mostly just an excuse to hit your siblings or push your friends into the side of the car. For my mom, this ride was jello, but she couldn’t stop. My dad was holding tight to her and kept reassuring her, “I’ve got you.” “You’re not going anywhere” Even my sister and I tried to offer support from the back, but it didn’t matter. I think at that moment she realized she would never ride this ride again and that there were a lot of other things she would never be doing again. Something changed for me that day.
Moving away from my parents was difficult, but coming home after leaving excruciating. Mom was getting worse and there was nothing I could do.
Multiple Sclerosis keeps winning.
While home for Christmas I found out my mom has opted for a “DNR of no resuscitation” which basically means if she ever collapses and is no responsive and/or is in a coma the EMTs and Medical personal are to not try and save her. To let her die.
People say that there are five steps to grief:
I think I have experienced all of these already and as I mentioned she’s still alive. There’s something to be said of the emotional shock of someone passing suddenly, the surrealism, of them being there one day and gone the next. Something else entirely to be said of the slow kind, the one that slowly steals the one you love away. The one where you could have the immense hope of recovery surge up only for it to fall and you to wonder if it were better if they were gone already. When sentences like, “If she stops eating she would not feel pain or the feeling of starving, hunger would just go away” is devastating and at the same time a relief.
It’s confusing and painful. I know God is here with me and I am trying to see the sense. There may not be any. I know He cares for my mom, more than I, my sister or my dad ever could, so I know He will care for her and I know there’s complete healing in Heaven, but I want my mom back.