Part 3: Preparing for Battle
Note: I’ve started writing about my Mom’s last two weeks by my side. Not sure if I’ll continue, and if so, into much detail….really listening from within to answer those questions.
Mom was moved to the hospital penthouse. Who knew there was such a floor that provided the warmth of an upscale hotel, when you know your check out date. Wooden paneled walls, upholstered furniture, extra large seating space, private chef on the floor. Only the hospital bed and IV attachments gave truth to the real reason for the stay.
The whiteboard became our scheduling board, dividing three shifts among my brother, father and myself. I usually took the 10-2pm shift, which allowed me a quick grocery run after school drop off, and a good parking spot when it was time to pick you Youngest from school.
Coincidentally, Oldest was blocks away from the hospital at her new all-girls school. From the top floor of the hospital window, we could see tiny dots scattering around soccer balls. By Friday evening, homecoming, those same tiny dots were dressed in red and white decorated the field under the night lights.
Mom has had a number of different hospital stays over the past decade. Oddly enough, I’d say our most intimate, honest and raw conversations took place in the hospital fish bowl. Topics that required depth and attention — marriage, regrets, what ifs, disappointments, prides, pleasures — were alway discussed. We exchanged pieces of our soul and were vulnerable to one another. A new level of intimacy was always found after each hospital stay.
And this one was no different. The first round of chemo was administered, on a Tuesday, the only one time I can recall that fear, or really fear of dying, was discussed.
“I’m not ready to go” she said, eyes fixated on the one and only window in her room, as those tiny dots shifted back and forth on the school playing field.
Tears started to well as I moved closer to sit on her hospital bed, careful not to sit on her IVs and monitors. My words stumbled, “I’m not ready to let you go”.
“Seventy two is too young. I don’t want to let go”.
“Mom, you could be 172 and I wouldn’t want to let go of you”.
Silence. We held hands, eyes now fixated on each other, and cried.
I look back at this conversation, which was so out of character for my my Mom — the spiritual warrior who fought battles with prayers. This conversation has replayed a number of times in my head, and I can’t help but think that she just needed to purge any negativity from her thinking. Just as a body needs to vomit itself of food poisoning, our spirit also needs to eliminate any signs of mental toxicity.
And from that moment onward, she carefully outfitted herself in her warrior gear — her Bible, her Science and Health, her positive thoughts, prayers, her gratitude.
She was ready for battle.