Mother's Day Musings on Life, Death, and Love
Today is bittersweet. On the one hand, I get to take my mom to see Captain America: Civil War and spend the day laughing and cavorting with her. She's one of the most incredible women I know, and she taught me how to be the woman I am today. She overcame her fear of being a mother (and especially her fear of having a daughter), got sober after falling prey to alcoholism, stayed positive even when making so little money she was living below the poverty line, and thought it all managed to stay a kid at heart. I can't imagine my life without her, and I love reminding her of that today and everyday.
On the other hand, my grandma, the adorable lady in the photo above, might not be able to hold on much longer. About two years ago, her stomach cancer recurred, this time as stage 4. After having about a third of her stomached removed and going into remission about a year earlier, the cancer had now spread to her liver and her bloodstream. She didn't feel sick when they found the recurrence, but the first chemo treatment almost killed her. The second treatment did nothing, but the third shrank the cancer down to almost nothing. After being told that the only thing left to do was make her comfortable, she fought like hell and got two years more than anyone believed she had.
A couple weeks ago, though, her doctor found a blockage in her bile duct. He saw that a mass was pressing on it and preventing her body from draining fluids properly. She would have to have surgery to have a stent put in to help her body out. Three surgeries later, the mass has been biopsied and the stent placed in her bile duct. She was supposed to go home yesterday, but she's not recovering like the doctor hoped. She was slightly weak but relatively healthy before the surgery, but now, things don't look good. She's lethargic, not eating, and pretty out of it. There haven't been any complications from the surgery, but it seems like her body just can't take much more.
Last night, after we came home from the hospital, my dad tried to put on a brave face, but after dinner he grabbed a cigar, poured himself a rather large glass of scotch, and visibly deflated. He told me the way his mom looked at the hospital was exactly how his dad looked before he died.
When I was driving my grandma back and forth the county for days to see her doctor and get an MRI and figure out her next steps, she sighed, apologized for making me drive her for hours each day, and said she was getting tired of everything. She didn't want to do it anymore. I think she's not recovering from this surgery because she's done. She's ready to go. She outlived her various doctors' estimations and got an extra two years with her family, and I think that was what she needed to prepare herself to go. And, honestly, it helped me prepare too. I wasn't ready two years ago when the words stage 4 came out of nowhere. Now, though, I'm ready too, as ready as I'll ever be, at least.
At the beginning of this post I wrote that my mom is one of the most incredible women I know. My grandma is another one of those women. Everyone who knows her feels like she's their grandma too. They even call her Geegee, which is what I named her because I couldn't say Grammy. As much as the rest of the world loves her, though, they will never love her the way I do. Geegee got me reading at an early age and gave me my love of stories. She taught me how to cook traditional Jewish foods and read Hebrew. She kept my grandpa alive through stories even though he died before I could remember him. She sang me to sleep at night, and she sang me awake in the morning. I don't know how much longer she has with us, but I will forever be grateful for the time I got to spend with her.
I hope you all take this day to remind the mothers in your life, biological or chosen, how much you love them. Hold them close. And after this day is over, continue to let them know what they mean to you. Because no matter how much time you have with them, it will never be enough.