It's been a rough week, and the next few weeks won't be easier. Hospice, last week, informed us that Teri has about 4 weeks left. 10 days have passed since that estimate was passed on to us. We trimble more with every passing day.
Tim is home now, caring for her. His employer has sent him home, with pay, for as long as she needs him. (Let's hear it for Mac's.) We marvel over the care he gives her, holding her vomit bucket, donning gloves and spreading nausea medicine that absorbs into her skin, and doing whatever else she needs done.
Clint and I took Brian and Mom to see Teri on Wednesday. She began throwing up almost as soon as we arrived. It is hard to know what to do; we don't want to flee the scene when the vomiting begins, but we also want to give her whatever space she needs. When there seemed to be no end to it, she asked us to leave. Apologizing: She was apologizing and we were apologizing, and Tim was apologizing, and good Lord, we all know that apologies are ridiculous but we are all just so damned helpless and sorry.
I have not come right out and told Mom the final prognosis. Neither do I lie. Teri's condition is not entirely lost on her. She is distraught, and asks, after visiting: Does Teri take any medicine? When I say yes, she says "Oh, good, I hope it makes her better." Eight months ago, we would have all replied, "we hope so too," but I now steer her elsewhere, telling her that meds make the pain go away, but they do not make the cancer go away. She cries. Can HER doctor help Teri? I tell her no. She cries more, and I tell her it's ok to cry, that I cry too.
It has just occurred to me, just this week, that I will be unable to shield my mother from this, and that it would be best if I stopped putting energy into figuring out that particular solution. Did you know I'm not really Super Woman? I forgot.
A crisis of this magnitude is bound to creep into one's relationship. Clint and I are both a little edgy these days. As I do for my Mother, Clint tries to fix all things awry in my life. He has kicked himself for not coming up with just the right words, at the same time that I'm not looking for words, just open arms and a t-shirt to sop up some tears. I, in the meantime, cancel all plans for the next 3 weeks, and shake off guilt at asking Clint to do the same, for me. I need him here...because I need him here...and that's the only reason I can give. So. He's here. We forge ahead, together.
And here I am. I don't know what to do, don't know whether to call or drop in or ride shotgun or let them rest. I just hover, calling every day to offer to shop or cook or visit, and in the meantime, leave myself open for direction. I'm still shaking, and still crying and still howling at the moon...but I'm here, waiting to do whatever I might be called to do.
I only have one more thing for today: Some advice.
Remember a few weeks ago, I mentioned a few things you could do or say to comfort someone? Well, my niece and I got together and vented the other day, and we both agree that there are a few things that you should not say while trying to comfort someone that's losing a loved one:
Do not, I repeat, never, never say:
"This is all for the best."
Really? Would you care to explain how that could possibly be true, you stupid jackass?
Also, don't say:
"There's a reason for this."
As if cancer, and losing a loved one is all part of a grander scheme that one of us someday stands to benefit from? And all we have to do is wait for it? Are you even listening to yourself?
Those are The Big 2, but while you're at it, go ahead and leave out "This is God's plan." At a time when we're struggling with our faith, it doesn't endear us to God one bit. Maybe giving you a big fat bloody lip is God's plan too, howz about that?
Ok, maybe we aren't running around handing out fat lips, but there have definitely been moments that we've fantasized about it. It makes us forget about our headache.
For those of you that are asking me what you can do for Teri & her family, I simply am at a loss. Many people have been bringing them food, and stocking their freezer, and it has been very much appreciated. Shopping and cooking are chores they don't need right now.
In this light, it has occurred to me that gift cards to restaurants that carry out may come in handy. When thawing and reheating may be too much at the end of some days, sending one of the kids for a hot meal may be a relief. If you have questions, hit me up, firstname.lastname@example.org
I simply don't know what else to tell you right now. When I think of something, I'll post it here.