I am wiped after the funeral for M1 and M2’s birth Grandmother but not just because of the drama their family thrives in. This time it was my own family drama that got the best of me.
On Tuesday my Mom called me and told me the first biopsy done on her eyebrow was positive for melanoma. She was going to have the same surgery she had 20 years ago. While it was sad to hear she had to have it again, my sister had flown in to spend time and distract her because in truth she had 2 biopsies done. My sister had brought my nephew and figured that was a good distraction, I mean he is 15 months old yep he is a good distraction. Well when I found out she was there I was aggravated I mean really if you told me I could have come down and spent time with you doofus. Oh well such as it was.
Thursday my phone rings again and its my Mom. Second biopsy from the urine sample was positive. It has a 97% accuracy rate, she has cancer in her bladder or kidneys. Now I am really glad my sister is there and I make a quick call to my boss, can I please have the day off, family issues we will talk later. My cubicle mate knew my Mom was having the biopsies done so I texted her “results positive” She replied “Be positive, go home.” I made a few more frantic phone calls to get the dog taken care of and to gather the kids from school so we could go down. Everything fell into place too quickly, thank you holy high roller I do appreciate it. Yes told my church and my counselor.
Friday, off to the doctor for me. Take the kids down. I tell them nothing past Aunt S and baby nephew is visiting so we are going to see them. I can’t tell them yet why…well one has to go to a funeral the next day soooo yay there is that whole piece. The longest 2 hour drive ever let me tell you. I had a million questions and knew I could not bombard my Mom until after the kids were in bed. So many emotions and thoughts it was hard to focus. We get there and she is thrilled. She hugs me tight and thanks me for coming. I whisper “not a word to the girls” and she nods her head. My sister darn near squished me she hugged me so hard. OK this is bad news for her and she is super close to Mom so yes she is taking it hard. She tells me she doesn’t want to talk so I go see my Father. Nope he doesn’t want to talk either…..great whole family but me and Mom are in denial fan freaking tastic.
My nephew is a beautiful little boy and he was a welcomed distraction to the conversation I knew I had to have with my Mom. But when I got there on Friday night she looked tired so it would be in the morning we could talk. I sighed and watched the game with Dad. We laughed and joked like there was nothing serious going on. Yes even my Mother joined in. We played with the cat and everyone visibly cringed every time the Sloan Kettering commercial came on. When Mom went to bed my sister tried to talk to me and tell me it would be fine. Mom would get radiation, she had picked out her treatment center. It was going to be all right. OK except when I locked eyes with my Mom that night I knew none of this was going to happen.
Next morning we sat and had breakfast and she opened with “You know you are number one because of your proximity to us right?” I assured her I did know and asked the order of the other siblings. We then had the conversation that so many people don’t get to have with their parents that needs to happen. We talked about her wishes for no treatment, palliative care only, living wills, health care proxies, dnr/dni preferences, cremation, mass service, viewing if I wanted it and burial. We discussed the church, the funeral home and who of her friends already knows. I wanted to scream at her when she said no treatment yet I knew in my soul she would say this. She is a hospice nurse after all and believes in dignity in dying. She wants to meet her creator. I am tasked with making her wishes come to furition. At no point does she need my approval, only my obedience. Of the siblings I am the most obedient and she knows this which is why I am in charge. Why am I closest, oh because I was told at 30 this would be my job so I didn’t go that far.
Did I mention I hate being the oldest. My siblings are going to freak when the biopsy is done and they find out how far it has progressed. They are going to argue with her and not understand. My sister will be a train wreck, my brothers well they will live in denial till I see them at the funeral. My father may hold it together or fall apart. He is not capable of handling these situations which is why he is not in charge. No he doesn’t care that I am in charge, he has always been a follower not a decision maker. Sometimes I feel myself getting angry with him because I am forced to make this happen. Sometimes I am childish and want the other adult to take care of a business I know in my heart he just simply cannot do.
And what of my Mom and I where do we go as we head toward our final times together. I love her I do but it is super hard to deal with at times. Part of me feels I should apologize for not being the daughter she wanted, but she has my sister, she fulfilled that role. I am not sorry really for who I am as an individual but I know she had different dreams for me. I don’t want to start a fight because there is no point in it. I have tried before when she confesses she messed up to talk to her about the impact on me but when I try she says “God has forgiven me and you need to do the same.” Well I do forgive her but ya know what there are side effects.
So I sit her relatively numb. I know what I have to do and don’t want to have to go through this. I hate having no options. I hate having to be the responsible one. I hate having death conversations with people. My Mom says she is at peace with all this and right now I am jealous because I sure as heck am not.