My youngest son arrives from the UK next Saturday, and on the 14th December him and my 3rd son are heading to Cape Town to spend time with the grandparents.
So I was talking to my dad this morning and he’s saying my mum is declining, he’s lucky if she’ll take 15 mouthfuls of food a day. And I wonder, is she only hanging on till she sees her grandsons? Is that what’s keeping her going? They haven’t seen my youngest since December 2013 and my 3rd since 2012.
And I wonder if I should fly down to my folks the day after the boys leave. I worry about my dad being alone when she dies. But at the same time there’s no saying how long she’ll live.
I wonder about how exactly my dad is dealing with this. My sister and the grandchildren know she has cancer, they just don’t know how serious it is. My dad and I are alike in that we can put a good face on things. He’s spoken with me about his fears and that he’s hurting, yet I know that even with me he’ll be holding back. I don’t know which will hurt more, my mum dying, or my dads grief.
And I wonder, how do other people deal with these feelings. With what the outcome is going to be. It doesn’t make it any easier that she’s of an age when natural death can be expected. (She’s 75)
And, again, I wonder, will I ever stop crying when I think about losing her.
So in May this year my mum started to get ill. At first we thought it was IBS (Irritable bowel syndrome). One night my dad went to his stamp club and got a phone call on the way there. It was my mum, she told him she was in unbelievable pain (we’re a family that will be in terrible pain before we complain) My dad shot home and had to take her to emergency. She ended up on morphine as nothing else would dull the pain. Meanwhile they discovered a mass in her stomach area. Long story short, after numerous testing, she has colon cancer.
Fast forward. She went for an operation to remove the mass. It seemed to help. She had almost no pain. Alas it didn’t last long. The biopsy showed that the cancer had spread to her liver and lungs. In the last couple of months she has lost almost 30 kilograms (she was 77kg, now shes 47kg). This is because she barely eats. Shes in so much pain, that even the morphine barely helps. All she does is sleep.
My heart is in pieces. I can’t imagine a world without my mum. Even though over the years we’ve had huge fights or gone months without speaking because we’re peeved with one another. She’s still been my mum, and I’ve always loved her. And as I write this I’m struggling to see through the tears that slide down my cheeks.
And I think, what will my dad do. They’ve been together since 1962 and married since 1963. 53 years married to my mum. I can already see what my mums pain does to my dad. If my heart is in pieces how is my dads.
I’m grateful that with all the things that happened in the past between my mum and I, that I’ve made peace with her. That everytime I fly down to see them, I go lie on the bed beside my mum and hold her while she sleeps. This woman, who was so big to me, is now tiny and fragile. I tell her I love her. When I’m at home, my dad and I talk on the phone everyday and before we hang up he takes the phone through to my mum, holds it beside her ear. And even though she may be sleeping I tell her I love her, that she’s the greatest. And before we hang up I tell my dad I love him and I’m only a phone call away.
Then I go to my bedroom, lie on the bed and cry.
My heart is breaking. Soon, my world will change and never be the same again. I will lose one of the greatest loves of my life. My Mum.