Monday, October 8, 2007

A memory for eternity

Today brought me the incredible gift of a very special moment in time that I shared with my mom.

I phoned her early this morning, to ask how she slept and how she was doing, but she was scarcely able to speak to me. She was so out of breath and in so much pain. When I said goodbye, we both cried.

A little while later my dad phoned, in tears, and when I asked how things are going at the hospital, he answered that it wasn't going well at all. When I hung up the phone, the dam walls broke and I started to cry uncontrollably.

The shock of seeing my mom so utterly weak and in pain over the weekend took it's toll. The heartache of having her crying against my shoulder when she was too tired to undress herself couldn't be held in check any longer. Yes it was rough being the strong one when my mom needed me, but it was so special to have been there for her.

When I got to the hospital, she was much calmer and restful and the medication started doing it's work. She was so strong and so brave: making jokes with two of our friends who drove to the hospital with me. After they left, she was too tired to talk, and I again realized how positive she tries to be for everyone else's sake.

I had some songs on my cell phone of Anne Murray's Gospel CD that I wanted to share with her, and after I plugged in the earphones for her and started playing the songs, I paged through the newspaper lying on the bed, holding her hand in mine.

Two songs later, she motioned to me to lie with my head on her tummy. She took an extra pillow and puffed it under my head. My very sick mom, making me comfortable to lie with her...

And there we were, my mom lying with eyes closed, me sitting next to her, lying with my head on her tummy. Her hand was on my head, her arm framing my face, and while she listened she stroked my hair.

A bit later she took one of the earphones from her ear and held it next to mine. The song she shared with me was "Bridge over Troubled waters" and the first words I heard was:

When darkness comes
And pain is all around
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

We just lay there, looking at each other, tears rolling down our cheeks. When the following lyrics were repeated in the song,

When you're weary
Feeling small
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all

she brushed the tears from my face and said: "I love you so much!"

We cried, we smiled, we loved. It was the perfect song for the perfect, most precious moment I've ever had with my mom, and I will cherish it in my heart for eternity.


Thanks so much for everyone's support and love in response to my previous post. You will never know just how much it means to me. Each and every comment was like a warm, comforting hug in real life.

My mom went to hospital yesterday when the pain and shortness of breath got too much for her to bear. The oxygen and morphine made her much more comfortable today. She suffers from malignant pleural effusion, a rather common occurrence with women suffering from secondary breast cancer that spread to their lungs, and they started the drainage earlier this evening. My dad said it was excruciatingly painful for her, but that it improved her breathing ability a lot. They drained about 2 liters of fluid within the first 2 hours! The fluid in her left lung (actually the pleural cavity) was starting to infiltrate the right one and pericardium (the membrane around the heart). Tomorrow they are hopefully starting radiation therapy, and her chemo will be adjusted to accommodate this new development. She is very, very sick, but it's going better every day.

My mom is the bravest, strongest, most positive person I know. I was ready to give up on Friday, but she is fighting back like a fierce lioness. She won't ever be cured of this cancer, but I believe that her strong will is going to help her heal.


seussgirl said...

No perfect words, just know that I'm praying for all of you.

Fertilize Me said...

Amazing ... Love.. How sweet it is ... thinking of you

Schatzi said...

I am so sorry to hear about your mother. I am hoping the treatments help her pain and ease her breathing. I am glad you were able to have sweet times with your mother. You are all in my prayers.

Lori said...

Thank you for sharing that very intimate moment.

I like your mom :-).

Pamela Jeanne said...

It was hard to read your post through my own tears. How brave and sweet your mother is through such a painful and exhausting experience. Praying that the medications keep her comfortable and strong. Your presence, too, must elicit the same response. Thinking of you all in this very difficult time...

Jennie said...

What a beautiful post the love you have for each other shows so clearly praying for you all, and wiping my own eyes after reading this over twice.

Geohde said...

Oh my goodness, you have so much to deal with right now.

What a sad but sweet time to spend with your mother.



Bea said...

That's a beautiful, beautiful post about a beautiful, beautiful moment. I'm so sorry for you and your mother, but I love her spirit and I hope it gives you both a lot more moments like this one.


furrow said...

I'm glad that in these worst of times, you are finding some beautiful moments together. I hope your strong, brave mother is able to fight on.

Artblog said...

I remember the day my mum called me up in tears, its not often I've ever seen my mum cry and it shocked me; she was so scared of doing the chemo and dying, it was heartbreaking! She's a strong woman too and I'm glad to say she's doing fine now but it still hurts that she went through that.

Hoping for your mum and thinking of you both.


JJ said...

Just continuing to be amazed at yours and your mom's strength. Praying for you all!

Sarah said...

oh karen, i'm so sorry. what a couple of amazing women you are.

lady macleod said...

I think she is a very lucky woman. Cancer be damned - to have a child who loves her so very much, there is no greater joy. She can look at her children and she will not need to ask herself, "Did my life matter?" She knows it did.

You and your family are in my prayers. You keep breathing.

Princess Peach said...

cancer is absolutely awful but as your post reflects - it can't break down the love and bond you already share. thinking of you and your mom.

The Town Criers said...

KarenO--I'm so sorry. This post made me bawl. I'm so glad that you got to have that perfect moment. I wish there was a way to bottle it, transport yourself back there whenever you need it.

Journeywoman said...

God Bless.

I'm thinking of you.

Tina said...

You are such an angel to your mom... I will be praying for you and your family.

Carole said...

I am so sorry to hear about all that your mom is going through. She will be in my will you and your family.

Thank you for sharing this story. It truly touched my heart.

Char said...

Dear KarenO... My heart tears when I read your experience with your mom. How precious though that you get to experience those "moments" that will never be lost to you. You have an opportunity that so few other people have - time to acknowledge how much someone means to you, really, and to make it known to the person. So often, after someone passes, we say "if only", when really we have the opportunity to tell them every day. Thanks so much for sharing your heartache with us. My heart goes out to you, dear friend. With prayers and many thoughts heavenwards on your behalf. xxx

Anonymous said...

I don't know you and not sure how I came upon your blog.

I read this post with tears in my eyes for a family I don't even know. Life is so precious and you are so fortunate to have had that special moment with your mom. Hopefully that time spent with her will get you through the difficult times.

God bless you and your family.

moosk said...

i came via the "lost and found." what a touching post... i've actually had that same song in my head for the last 24 hours... thinking about my own mom who is being treated for bile duct cancer. it's just so good that you can be with your mom and help keep her strong.

Here I am said...

I haven't visited your blog in a while and after just reading it, I wanted to let you know how deeply sorry I am for all the pain you are going through and I pray your mom is able to ease her pain, and get through this. Hugs to you from New York.

Waiting Amy said...

What a beautiful exchange between you and your mom. Thank you for sharing.

Your family sounds incredibly loving and tender to one another. I am hoping that the therapies help you mom be more comfortable and that you have more of those moments.

Be strong when you can, and let others be strong for you when you can not.

Deathstar said...

I will keep you and your mum in my prayers as well.

You know, I associate Bridge Over Troubled Waters with my mum, too. As a matter of fact, she sang a little bit of last week at her nursing home.

Stay strong.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Just wanted you to know that I'm thinking of you, Karen...and praying for your family.

Kami said...

What a beautiful moment to share with your mom. It speaks to your relationship that the two of you can create and share such a moment.