Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Letter to Mother

Okay, as Helen knows from my phone call and Dave might know from my response to his last post, I freaked a little bit after my last three conversations with Mother: To me, she seemed to be losing it. Lashing out, not thinking well, etc.

Now I understand the bath fixed everything.

Meanwhile, I wrote her a letter, which I'm going to post here, because even though I might have been overreacting, I think there is still some good shit here.

Also, I read over Kubler-Ross's five stages, which helped me gain some perspective.
Anyway, here's the letter:
Dear Mother,

Things seem to have become very frantic lately, with not even enough time for a calm phone conversation. So, since I have some things on my mind, I thought I'd write instead.

You made the most important decision of your life last week. (Actually, I think having children is equally important, but for some reason we never consider that.)

You decided to die.

That's basically what signing the DNR order and agreeing to hospice care means, even though we don't like to say it out loud.

I know you've thought about this a lot and for a long time and I don't doubt for a second that you know what a serious decision this is.

I do wonder, though, if you've taken a deep breath and worked through how you feel about it. We are a family that figures out what they think first, and works at understanding how they feel about what they think, later. We're so smart.

You seem more frazzled and less "together" than I've ever known you to be. UNDERSTANDABLE!!!

You must be scared. And sad. And, being you, extremely uncomfortable with the loss of control that this decision implies. (There's a reason we've always called you General Fullcharge, after all.)

For the first time (since I've known you), you are going to be helpless in many ways. You cannot direct how this is going to go. You're going to have to let other people help you, without your instructing them. Chances are good that some beds will be made without hospital corners and some towels will not be folded in thirds. And I suspect, most lovingly, that this will make you nuts.

I suppose you don't regret things once you're dead. But if you do, I think you'll regret it if you focus on the little things instead of the big ones right now. This is the ultimate carpe diem moment. And you've always told us to carpe diem. Time to do what you say.

Okay, this is big advice from your child who's never faced anything like this. I apologize if I sound the least bit condescending/know-it-all/lecturey. I just hate to hear you sound so frantic.

You do have people who know what they're talking about, unlike me.

Your hospice has counselors: it would be good for you and Daddy to talk to them, together and individually. You have friends: June and Mark Anschutz come to mind. And you have, as we have always said to each other, a most loving and intelligent and remarkable family, standing by to do anything, including deep talk, that could possibly make you more comfortable, more serene, more joyful, even, with the courageous decision you have made.

Finally, and here I'm totally out of my depth, you have your faith. This is what it's about. Let it sustain you. Act out the serenity prayer.

Forgive me if this is all comes across as presumptuous. If I were there, I'd just give you a big hug. That's what all these words really mean. I want you to feel better and calmer, and I want you to rest against the knowledge that you are deeply loved.

I love you.

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