It's been almost a week since my last blog post and I have so many stories to share. So many! God has been amazing throughout this journey with a multitude of joy moments woven through each and every day.
But friends, I have to tell you. This whole dying business is HARD.
I mean REALLY hard.
If you've ever had a loved one suffer from cancer, you know what I'm talking about. If you've ever experienced the loss of a loved one, you know what I'm talking about. If you've experienced both, you need a hug.
Lots of hugs.
Lots and lots and lots of hugs.
This morning was difficult. We made final decisions to place my mom in hospice care. Because her condition is so precarious now, requiring high flow oxygen, she is too fragile for transport home or to a hospice designated hospital. Through God's perfect grace, my mom's doctor gave permission for her to stay right where she is, in the same hospital - the same room! - so that she can finish out her days pain-free, surrounded by the nursing staff we have all grown to love. She even gave a thumbs up as we went around the room, each affirming our decision.
It was a big day.
Today, my mom watched my daughter's chorus concert from the hospital bed as she viewed the videos from her cell phone. One of my favorite songs, "Danny Boy" is actually my alma mater's school song (so LDHS pals, you might remember this one!) She listened to each song, eyes closed, as the a Capella harmonies filled the room. (If you click here you can listen to the song as well - my daughter is sixth from the right on the bottom row with the long brown hair.)
All morning my mom played those songs, liturgical music reverberating against the walls of her room. We left her door open and played the songs at top volume and she rested comfortably in her hospital bed.
We've had something on the "agenda" each day and for most she would add the event to the digital calendar on her phone. As her condition worsened, those events were no longer added manually, but she never once forgot what we were supposed to do on each day.
Today's agenda was Lobster Rolls.
Let me explain. My mom was raised in Whitman, Massachusetts, just a stone's throw from Boston. For most of her childhood and teenage years, she lived here, a die-hard Yankee who embraced every aspect of being a Bostonian. One of the many things she missed when she moved to the South in 11th grade was enjoying a hearty Lobster Roll.
That Lobster Roll has been on her bucket list ever since the list was made. Incredibly, we have a restaurant in Richmond called The Continental Westhampton that actually serves this northern delight. The dish itself is a bit pricey, so it's a delicacy for sure and one that my mom hasn't had in years.
One week ago today, my mom met with her oncology team and with the support of her husband, Bob, she expressed her interest in going into a Hospice program. Immediately after that discussion, she got her Lobster Roll with Bob.
I have been harassing her all week about when I would have my turn at the infamous Lobster Roll feast (after all, I'm a born and bred southerner who has never taken a bite of this sandwich!) I fussed at her for not taking any photos to mark the milestone occasion. Yesterday, she told me that today, May 3, would be our Lobster Roll day. She would add it to her agenda.
Four months ago, my sister-in-law Dee gave me money and a menu with a note saying that she wanted me to take my mom out to lunch at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens. Unfortunately, my mom was never again well enough to make the trek across the outdoor winding paths to the restaurant. I've kept the money and note in my purse ever since waiting for the perfect moment to do something with my mom.
Today was that perfect moment.
For those of you who share my fascination with God winks (those coincidental moments where a number or image will remind you that you are loved by God), I have another one to share in this moment. In my younger years, I loved the numbers 143 for they spelled out "I Love You" with the exact number of letters in each word. My first-born arrived in this world at exactly 1:43 am - the most perfect God wink of all! Well, take a peek at that receipt with the lobster roll in the photo above. Notice the time on the receipt? Ahhhh... such perfect love!
Then I came home to find my daughter's ticket to Prom on the kitchen table:
That was worthy of chill bumps.
There was one more moment that struck us today. When we all agreed on hospice care and the doctor left the room, my mom stared back at me, her beautiful brown eyes wide in disbelief. "So I can make an agenda for tomorrow?" We smiled and nodded back, saying "Of course you can! Tomorrow's a new day!" She paused a moment, shook her head, then said something that struck us to the core:
"He said I would die on May 3."
We don't know for sure who "he" is - she can't recall exactly who said that to her, but I can tell you that NOBODY has said anything like that to her the entire time I've been there (and trust me, I've been there quite a bit lately.)
I'm writing this post at 1:11 am just to say, she made it to May 4.