And that's what I'm thinking today, after a day of traveling, a day of surprises - and a day without that which helps me keep my sanity; y'all her on Teh Intarwebz.
First, my mother.
I saw her yesterday for about half an hour straight from the airport (about an hour's ride). She was relatively cheerful, but couldn't see people for too long.
Today I visited with her for about two and half hours. And it was very hard. She started out clear-headed, but then she drifted away, partly because of the pain. She was very embarrassed about having kept other people in the ward up the previous night with some non-stop chatter and jokes that she said were the result of the painkillers. I can understand why that would embarrass her.
Then the pain got to be too much, and she needed her Dilaudid (they switched her to that from morphine, because my brother thought that might help minimize her mental confusion). She drifted further away, off to pain-filled sleep. I said goodbye and promised to come back tomorrow.
I know that her cognitive abilities were scrambled; by pain, by the multiple painkillers she was on. But for the first time in my life with her, I realized that they were also eroding, period.
Obviously, much of her confusion comes from the first two, and I hope to high heaven both of those improve quickly. Then, perhaps, I can see how much of her confusion is permanent.
Do you remember when your mother was the person with all the answers? The one whose advice always made sense, and whose eyes always met yours with love and wisdom? The one who would know what to do?
I've been blessed to have that mother for far longer than other people. But I think that she's ... not leaving, but transforming into the mother who I will comfort and who I will tell I love, and who will need me to help clear things up when she's confused. The illness, the cancer, they were simply the catalyst.
I must be patient, of course. This could just be my shock at how ill she is. She may be much better mentally when she is better physically. But it's very, very hard to wait and see how much of the mother I know is there, and how much of the mother I must come to know is there.
And I imagine how it must be for her.
She and I think so very much alike, even though our lives and beliefs differ; I know how she would react to this. I even know what paths her confusion takes. When she was confused this afternoon, I understood her half sentences, her digressions into trying to remember the words of a song so that she could teach it to the nurses, her need to tell me things to remember to do at home. She knows she is not making sense; she knows that her intellect is hobbled. She hates it.
Yesterday, I was tired, hungry, hurting from one of my attacks (stress and long hours sitting in a cramped plane), and shocked to learn that my phone, which my bosses had promised would work up here, didn't, thus losing me constant hotspot connectivity. And I was shocked to learn that I wasn't staying with my brother, but with my step-dad. It makes sense - closer to the hospital, and I can help keep my step-dad company - but it was a shock, because it had been decided for me without informing me before hand. Needless to say, no wifi at mum's place.
And then, my mother, both yesterday and today ....
But overnight, I decided to stop being thrown by the little things. I don't need the phone; I did fine without the phone before there were cell phones. I'll do fine with no connectivity where I'm staying. Hell, without the Internet to distract me, I can write to my hard drive and maybe even have the discipline to finish some projects that have been staring at me disapprovingly over their glasses.
And I must admit, I have use of a car, and I found a little cafe in the middle of town that has free wifi. I'll try to spend an hour or two here every day, to catch up with the world I know at home. That will help keep me sane. And while I'm sane, I can focus on the most important thing in the universe right now. My mother. (And secondarily, my exhausted brother. I have to take care of him, too, somehow.)
So that's my first report from Wolfville. It's warm and rainy, and it's run down - the economy went to shit years ago, I think, but I'm just noticing it now. But the cafe is lovely, and it roasts its own coffee, and the rain is making things grow, and the crocuses and blueflowers are blooming. And my mother is alive, and I can stroke her hair, and tell her I love her, and make sure she knows she's not alone.
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