Permission to Say Goodbye
By mrsL on June 19, 2009
I have read so many web sites and books that talk about how to deal
with the death of a loved one. Most of them say that you should tell
your loved one that it's okay to let go. It's okay to die.
My sister is wonderful at that. She has told my mom so many times that
she is a good mama, a good woman, a great musician, and most
importantly, a good Christian. She has told my mom this many times over
the past week or so.
Me? Not so much.
I want to scream to my mother, "stay away from the light!"
The other day a nice volunteer came to visit mom while I was there. She
held her hand and told her, "If Jesus comes to take your hand, just let
Him. Just walk away with Jesus." And as this nice lady is saying these
things to my mother I am countering efforts with prayers of my own.
"Jesus, please, don't you come here today. I'm not ready to let my Mama
walk with you."
It has been very difficult for me to switch gears and adjust to this
new course. About 10 years ago my mother was found to have bladder
cancer and a benign meningioma that
had taken up residence in her skull, and was squishing the frontal part
of her brain. We had to move Mom from her home in New Mexico to live
with us in Ohio so she could seek medical care. My sister and I sat in
the waiting room for 15 hours that day while they removed the tumor and
then we helped her through the following weeks and months of
recovery.We made sure she got the treatment she needed for the bladder
cancer too until she was declared cancer free.
The five years after that were spent with Mom getting use to life in
Ohio and getting to know her grandchildren. These were the years she
helped homeschool Sam, attended concerts, soccer games, dance recitals,
art shows and all of the other activities her grandchildren were in.
She rocked babies and she changed diapers. She had a new life.
When she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma
we were all shocked and disappointed. There is no cure for this form of
cancer, but many myeloma patients live long and fulfilling lives. And
when mom's blood tests proved that her myeloma was going to be slow, or indolent
I thought she would clearly make the 5-year mark and beyond. And to
help ensure it, I named my baby daughter after my Mother, thinking that
surely she would will herself to live to see how her little name sake
grew and prospered. I even jokingly called them "Maryrose to the second
power" when they were together and they both loved it.
So when Mom started to decline last winter it was unexpected and
troubling. I went to her oncology exams, and I encouraged her to get
the blood transfusions that made her feel better. To discover that
after all she had been through, she was now looking at stage III c Ovarian cancer
was maddening. It was as if Mom's body had decided to take whatever
extraordinary measures were necessary to kill itself. And frankly I
started to feel overwhelmed and pissed off. This last illness might
just be too big for all of us to take on.
Still, the surgeon thought that with chemotherapy, the small sprinkles
of cancer left in her abdomen after surgery would die, and she might
have a good result. And so we had a new goal - get Mom stronger so that
she could get the chemotherapy.
Since mid April I have begged, cajoled, pleaded, nagged and scolded Mom
to try a little harder at therapy, to work a little more, and to take
just one more bite of food so that she could get her strength back and
go into battle with this cancer. I wanted her to fight hard, and if I
could get in there every day, the least she could do was try with all
Her last set back was it though.
After that hospitalization she was surly with the therapists and
wouldn't even try to eat. Last week the therapists discharged her from
As I sat in the care meeting last week listening to what her nurses and
therapists were telling me it became clear that what they were trying
to say is that this isn't going to get better. She isn't going to
improve. There will never be any course of chemotherapy. It's time for
And I am definitely angry about it. I'm mad at the stupid oncologist
who listed to my mother's symptoms and totally never thought, "Duh,
this sure sounds a lot like ovarian cancer, maybe we should check it
I'm mad at myself for not Googling her symptoms myself to figure out
what was going on, and I'm mad at whatever it is in mom's biology that
has been determined to terminate her life for the past 10 years. Come
on, who gets a brain tumor, and two types of terminal cancers in one
And I'm mad at Mom for not trying harder. If Patrick Swayze could
fight to stay alive to shoot a dumb t.v. show, weren't we enough for
her to try to sit for a second longer, or take one more bite of toast?
And yes, I understand that these are totally illogical and not very rational thoughts. I've done the grief thing before. I know I'll get through it. Right now I'm just more hurt and angry that I have to.
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