Friday, September 14, 2012

changes 9-14

My life since October 9, 2010 has changed so much.  October 9th is the day everything I knew changed.  That was the day the hospice nurse and I had to take Momma into the hospital because she sounded like she was underwater and couldn't swallow.  I had anticipated that she would be in the hospital for a few days and then home as usual, like every other hospital visit since that previous May.  I was wrong.  That was the last time Momma would be in the hospital.  She was never coming home again.  On the 10th, I received the phone calls from the speech therapist and the doctor that told me she failed all the swallowing tests, her food was going into her lungs, and that her swallowing muscles had stopped working.  Essentially, she could no longer eat or drink anything as everything that went down her throat would head directly into her lungs and would cause her to have a very painful pneumonia.  There is NOTHING that the doctors can do about this.  I think I mostly died myself that day.  Yes, I am aware that I didn't physically die, but I so wanted to.  I didn't want to go where Momma wasn't going.  She was heading to a place without me.  So many thoughts would go through my mind.  Not only about the pain she was in, when she was in pain, but how would I do anything without my mother?  I had never lived on my own before.  I was ill, how would I survive.  The realities of my own illnesses were crossing my mind too but mostly I just wanted to be with her.  I couldn't even conceive of a life without my mother.  We were best friends as well as mother and daughter.  I don't think we could have been any closer and I don't just mean when I had to take care of her with the Alzheimer's, I mean before hand too, before she got Alzheimer's.  I went on vacations with her, I hung out with her, we went to movies and activities together.  The scariest part for me was, how would I take care of myself without her.  I didn't really realize I already was because the last six months of Momma's life, I did everything for her so I had to do everything for me by myself.  I was so scared and I felt so alone without her and she hadn't even died yet.  I had never felt so far away from everyone in my whole life.  It was like I was standing on an island and everyone else was in the ocean.  For 8 days I sat with mom and read to her, I sang to her.  She loved hearing me sing.  When I was younger (about 20ish) I commented to her that she didn't even like the way I sang.  I was commenting that she didn't like so much of the stuff I did.  Well, I was wrong.  It is true that she didn't like that I only wore black, but she loved my dancing at that point and she said I had a beautiful voice that was why she often would turn on the intercom in our house when I was practicing.  It was so she could hear it.  I sang her favorite songs to her.  They ones she taught me as a child.  I read her parts of her favorite books.  I sat alone most of the time.  The first day, she was in the hospice unit, we had a lot of company, which I was very thankful for.  My Muglia girls came to see her, Julie and her girls came to see her, and my uncle Ken along with 2 cousins came to see her.  After that day, I was mostly alone.  I wanted my older brother, Richard to be there so bad but I didn't have the courage to ask him to come.  I was afraid he would say no.  I don't know what he would have done since I never asked.  I wasn't by myself most nights.  Tillie and Maia were spending the nights at my house, which I appreciated but I still felt miles away from everyone.  For 8 days I watched her pass slowly away from me.  It was hard also because only the first day she could speak.  I am very grateful for that day though because the one thing I really wanted was to have the last words said to her from me be "I love you, Momma" and they were.  I didn't want to have regrets like so many who don't get the opportunity to say goodbye and I love you.  I did.  It didn't make the heartache go away or be any better, it was just a bit more peaceful.  I also am very glad her last words to me were "I love you".  I knew she loved me.  I just needed to hear it said again.  I still need to hear but I have to listen with my heart because I can only hear her voice in my head.

Anyways, after Momma passed away, I wanted to be with her.  I would pray every night that I would wake up in Heaven with Mom.  So much has changed since that fateful day.  I did ask my older brother, Richard if I could live with him since that is pretty much what mom and I talked about but he said no.  I was too sick and slept too much so I couldn't live with him.  I was devastated at that time, not only because I had just lost my mother but because my brother didn't want me living with him.  Some how I trudge through those first days.  I can't remember anything about them except I cried and cried and cried so much.  Now with the two year anniversary coming up next month, I can honestly say that I can live on my own.  I have been for almost 2 years.  I am glad, now, that Richard did say no because I think I would have never learned to stand on my own two feet.  Friends of mine have said that they knew I could do this because I had been taking care of Mom for so long.  But before momma needed 24/7 help, she helped me with a lot of things.  Simple things like washing my hair, helping me get dressed.  I couldn't do them because of my shoulder being frozen.  I have learned how to do these things by myself.  I didn't realize how dependent upon Mom I was until I had to do these things by myself.  I can do them (including the hair at this point - which was a wonderful relief).  I don't have to go to a hair salon to get my hair washed like I used to.  Most of my family didn't know how much I grieved for Momma.  They would say things like I should be over this now.  That would make me feel even worse because I wasn't over it.  I honestly don't think I ever will be.  Many friends who are in "the club" of people who have lost their mothers say that you don't get over it, it just becomes a bit easier to live with.  I think I have finally accepted that God is not going to let me die and be with mom right now.  The deep despair that I want to die is slowing going away and I am trying to figure what I want to do with my life within the limits of my illness.  I no longer pray to die every night.  My heart still aches horribly, but I know that will always ache for her until we are reunited in Heaven together.  I am impatient for that day, but I don't know when that day will be.  So now I am left with, how do I want to want to live?  I want to keep teaching.  I like teaching a lot.  I want to continue to be in the church choir and sing on Sundays so I am going to do that.  I want to learn on to hand quilt so I can make some presents for people.  I saw my friend, Robin, Wednesday for lunch.  She was one of the few who did know how badly I wanted to die.  She and Kathy were about the only two who knew.  Everyone else didn't really know how much I wanted to die.  No, I did not try to kill myself, nor would I have.  Although in reality, I really lost 2 people at that time, both my mother and my older brother as he is no longer speaking to me.  I don't think he will ever speak to me again.  I know why he is mad and I know how long he can hold grudges.  I was hysterically upset the day he told me not to ever call him again.  I am much calmer about that now.

I am trying to go on with living.  I have decided that enough was enough about my weight so I am working hard at losing weight.  I have lost a bit, but certainly not the amount I wanted to have gone at this point.  I can only work harder at it.  I am seeing friends and going to different activities (movies, ice cream with the girls) and sewing.  Everyday, the feeling of despair are slowly fading and maybe someday it won't be like that but for now it is a baby step and something that I can do.

I think I have found the want to want to go on living again.

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