Thursday, January 22, 2009

I did a dumb thing yesterday. Really dumb.

For whatever reason (boredom), I went through my archives starting right from the word go here. I read through post after post and it was reading someone else's life. And then I got to the stuff about Mom. I was reluctant to go there...painfully fresh and raw. I know it's been nearly two years (it has?), but it's like it was yesterday. When you're experiencing something like that, at the time, it's a blur and there is no thing called time. It's meaningless, other than you know it'll eventually run for hours or days - it doesn't matter. I don't really know why I read on, but I did. And, for a moment, it all came flooding back and swallowed me up. One line, in particular, hit me like a sledgehammer over the head. It stopped me in my tracks like I'd hit a wall and it put me right back there. But I was more observant this time...clued in. Experiencing it instead of the numbness that kept it at bay. It was overwhelming.

For the most part, I'm ok - I don't dwell or get caught up in sadness. I like to smile, laugh, talk about and remember my Mom as she was - a happy person who loved life. That's what we were all about. The other person in that bed wasn't Mom. And it's a knife in the heart memory so I generally choose to forget that part. But something compelled me to read on, to relive it. Maybe it was part of processing it all so that I can keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. It hurt like hell.

That one line stuck with me all day. That one image. There's something in brain cancer that's extraordinarily cruel. Aside from the torturous pain it causes, it messes people up. And if you're not really aware of how this manifests itself, it can be awfully disturbing. For a family watching their loved one battle this demon, it's horrific, shocking and confusing as hell. Like the end of a nightmare when you're first waking up and halfway into reality, but still stuck in the bad dream. Trying to figure out if it's real or not - only in that instance, you get the relief that it's not.

At the time, I didn't understand Mom's hostility...she'd always been a fighter and I thought she was being terribly difficult at times. And I fought back....tried to get her to "smarten up" and see how unreasonable she was being. We're both feisty and, although we were not only mother/daughter but also the best of friends, that didn't mean we couldn't lock horns. So I did at times, unbeknownst to me that she was incapable of controlling it - she wasn't speaking/acting like this, the lump in her head was. But I was in there at the time, toe to toe, trying to reason with her. Ha, how do you "reason" with something that's the equivalent of a hacked computer harddrive? She wasn't controlling things, her brain had been invaded and was now acting on its own.

I only wrestle with the wish that, at the time, I would've been armed with the knowledge and awareness that I now have of what was happening. I was completely caught up in the throes of it all and trying to make sense of something impossible to understand. I know, hindsight makes it easier to look back and do the would've/could've thing. I try and keep it in perspective, but there's definitely some sadness in how incapable I was of truly stepping away from the position of trying to steer Mom back onto the tracks to focus more on just being there for her. We were already derailed and in a deep dark forest by that point...only thing to do was just brace ourselves and hang onto each other. But I was still fighting to keep it all together.

".....her gritted teeth...." I remember now. It was horrific - she was SO hostile and violent at that point. It caught me off guard...floored me. Swearing (she hated the "F" word). Throwing things. Gritting her teeth and clenching her fists. Honestly, it was like Linda Blair's Exorcist performance. That scary.

And now all I can do is think of how utterly horrific that must've been for her if she was tuned in to it all. For a long time, Mom had said she felt "different" - that she wasn't "herself". She'd say there was something wrong in her head (and yes, there was - she'd had an aneurysm/stroke many years before. I always attributed it to that). But I wonder if she had an awareness of this beast as it was taking her over at the time and, near the end, if the clenched teeth and fists were her trying to fight it? I hope she was oblivious to it all and the words just poured out without any resistance. That there was no inner struggle like that of a split personality trying to figure out which one could reveal itself at any given time. I don't know that this makes sense...I just have this gnawing, unanswered/unresolved question about whether or not she was trying to ward it off as it was happening. If it caused her distress or if she was completely out of tune with what she was doing. I so hope that she was.

I picture her like that and I cry. I wish I understood it THEN. I would've simply held her hand and reassured her instead of challenging her on the words that she was growling. I was trying to put puzzle pieces together in a pool. I guess the question I'm wrestling with was did SHE know? Did she feel alone? Confused and disoriented? Scared? Or was she unaware and just going through the motions. God I hope so. Man, it's rough.

There, a tear and it's done for now. Put away in that safe little box in my mind that says "do not open". This isn't really a should've/could've/would've thing. Well maybe it is, but I really don't carry guilt, just sadness. I accept that I did what I could with what little I had. Which wasn't much.

Brain cancer has got to be one of the most disturbing ways anyone could ever die and I guess it's normal that I'll have moments like this. I don't want to remember that Mom.

For the record, I also found some pretty humorous posts in there as well (did I really write them? They're kinda good). Funny how sarcasm and dry humor can mask complete devastation and turmoil.

I stopped partway through reading and shut things down because, at that point, I realized that I was just torturing myself unnecessarily. I didn't have to do what I was doing. That there's no turning back the hands on the clock or redoing things and everything I did was out of nothing but absolute love for my Mother. That's what matters most.

Just thought I'd share this, for selfish reasons. Not a sunny post, but it's who I am at the moment. It's temporary...I know that. A workout is in order and I fully expect that to work like an Advil on a headache. What headache?

You know I go along for the most part being chipper, silly, nutty, having fun and then whammo. I take a wrong turn and end up here. I don't like feeling sad...I'm out of my element when I do. It's uncomfortable to me.

I always feel better when I talk to you. Life's a journey, isn't it?


Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

When a parent dies, there are always regrets left behind for the kids to deal with. They manifest themselves in different ways, and most of the time we can bury them, as you say. I think it was really brave of you to confront yours and I think it has probably given you a deeper understanding of your mom's passing. Delving like this must have been very painful, but ultimately, I think it will help you.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Gledwood said...

That was really beautifully put, Debs. Life's certainly a journey and at least you don't waste it by standing still ;->...
Take care {{hugs}}

1:29 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home