Grateful in Grief
by Donna Ball
My mother died this past Monday, Sept 16. She would have been 80 this week, on 9-25. She was stricken with pancretic cancer probably 1-2 years ago but was just diagnosed in May. As is always the case with this cancer, it was too late to do anything for her as it had already spread and no treatment options were available. The diagnosis was totally unexpected, no warnings as is often the case with this cancer, just being checked for indigestion when the tumor was discovered. She was devastated as were all of us in her family.
My mother was a strong and vital woman, never really ill in her entire life, dealing with only age appropriate conditions. She was the farthest thing from an old lady you can imagine. She still worked every day at her busy company office, traveled, socialized, ran her life in every aspect. She looked and acted like a woman 30 years younger and few people 1/2 her age could keep up with her.
During the 4 months between diagnosis and death, she mercifully had little pain and when she did, she controlled it with Tylenol only. She was fatigued from the onset but that was an inconvenience to her busy life, not causing pain or disability. She was suddenly stricken with vomiting blood on Friday 9-13, and then the pain elevated quite a bit. She had been prescribed narcotics when diagnosed in May but never needed them until that day. Thankfully she was able to get immediate and complete pain control and did not suffer. Hospice had been pre-arranged with her oncologist and the nurse came right over and made sure my mother had everything she needed for care and pain control, which she did. My mother lived in NY and I live on the west coast so I was not able to get there but my sister and 2 brothers live nearby and they were able to get to her immediately and they stayed there around the clock until she died on Monday, 9-16. She became non-responsive on Sat and never woke up again.
We are desperately sad that my mother was stricken with this terrible disease. Cancer is a serial killer without conscience or remose and cares nothing for whom it destroys. She so wanted to live, had so many things she still wanted to do, but sadly it wasn't meant to be. She accepted what she could not change and those of us who loved her must now do the same.
Although we are all raw and terribly sad right now, I hope that sooner rather than later we will remember my mother with laughter and love, not sadness and tears. She said many times that life is for the living and no matter who dies, life goes on. She would want us to live happy lives, to move forward, to live lives of purpose and she would be appalled if we did otherwise. To honor her, we will endeavor to fulfill her wishes so she may rest in peace. We will love her and miss her always, but we are grateful in our grief that she passed as she wished, without pain or lingering decline, surrounded by the things and the people she loved. We can be nothing but grateful she was granted this small mercy. We'll do our best to live happy lives Mom - and we'll see you again someday.