Mom died this morning, a little after 8 a.m. I suppose if I were a true netizen, I would have blogged it right away, but that didn’t seem like the right thing to do, somehow.
I never really got why people euphemize in these situations – dead is dead, right? No point in prettying it up. But today I had to call people and tell them, and it was really hard to say the D-word, so I found myself using all those other expressions that used to make me wonder. When it’s real, it’s too hard to say. Awkward.
I was out of the house yesterday for about three hours, and Kate (the nurse) told Nate and Jerry what to expect, i.e., what it looks like when someone dies. It’s nice that they tell you these things, because you can’t really help wondering, but you feel weird asking. Anyway, (Nate told me later) what happens with lung cancer is that the lungs fill up with fluid, very gradually, and the person gets too weak to cough it up, and as their lung capacity diminishes, their breath gets shallower and shallower, and ultimately the lack of oxygen to the brain is the cause of death. So basically, it’s like drowning, only very slowly. So it can be kind of horrifying, and therefore it’s really good to know beforehand what to expect.
This wasn’t that bad, not as horrible as it could have been, anyway. She started wheezing around 8:30 last night, talked for about two hours and then settled into something very weird. She was vocalizing every exhalation, but not like moaning or anything so emotional. She didn’t seem to be in pain, she was just…making noise. There was no apparent suffering, no visible struggle, for which I am immensely grateful, but the noise, the vocalized exhale, continued for almost ten hours. So even though she didn’t seem to be suffering, that was kind of stressful for us, because it’s very hard to concentrate on anything, but it’s also very hard to sit by someone for such a long time.
Nate went to bed around 11, I went to bed around 1, Jerry dozed intermittently but didn’t get any real sleep. We were told that this vocalization is not that unusual, and it can last quite awhile, so Nate left for the airport around 7.45, since he was scheduled to fly back to Mississippi today. He was barely out of town when I called him to tell him that Mom had passed, so he just turned around and came back, and the rest of the day has mostly been phone calls, funeral arrangements, and that sort of thing.
It was a bright sunny day, though, probably the last nice day for awhile. The sky was blue, and the garden looked beautiful. I’m only occasionally sad today. It will come upon me gradually.
(Happy birthday to me. I turned 35 yesterday.)