Huh. Well, how 'bout that?
Updated: May 16
Something I did not expect to feel.
Ridiculously Tall Grandson #1 taking the nightshift with Grandma.
Since the active-dying phase got underway yesterday Mom has been mostly peaceful (and when she's not peaceful we have drugs to get her there). We don't move her now unless absolutely necessary because she is so frail, and no more food and water as she is experiencing aspiration - things that should have landed in her stomach took a different track to her lungs now causing a laborious gurgling cough.
On the other hand, the household has been a flurry of activity. Mom hasn't responded much to those of us who hover around her but I can tell she hears our voices. Friends and family have regaled her with stories of adventures from their shared past as they bestow final goodbyes on their girl.
The best part? Everyone brings us food! The worst part? All I really want is wine.
But besides losing my mind in grief yesterday when our hospice folks broke the news that Mom was declining rapidly, I'm oddly detached from this whole dying thing.
I've left the heaving lifting to Ridiculously Tall Grandson #1, The Other Girl, and MotherMinder. I pop upstairs to check on everyone and do a little housekeeping in the kitchen, but mostly I've been hiding out in the house's lower extremities, as if what we've all worked to achieve all these years, allowing Mom to die in her own home, is not finally coming to fruition, happening right above my head.
It's like Mom's a Netflix show I've been consumed with and have now lost interest in the finale.
Instead I've been using my time to chronicle this last stage in posts because I don't want to forget a single emotion of this journey. (Oh, and my apologies for all the notifications this week. New post! New post!).
And I've been walking these two twin terrors...
I finally walked the evil right on out of 'em.
Both activities have been hugely helpful; writing allows me to process this monumental event even if I'm declining much in the way of participation, and walking Mr. Bones and Olive is just good old-fashioned escapism.
But I'm mystified at my retreat. I know the last three weeks wore me down - catastrophe and chaos for 21 days straight can do that to a gal - and the full dementia journey has certainly been exhaustive. But we have hours/days left with Mom, and I am mostly a no-show.
And I'm kinda fine with that.
I know now what I didn't know at the start of this journey: every emotion in dementia is valid. Not necessarily "right" but legitimate and necessary to acknowledge. Dementia doesn't give us caregivers or our dementia folks the option to deny our feelings. Gawd knows I've tried and have been repeatedly devastated by the repercussions of repression; volcano's gonna blow if you keep adding pressure.
But I'd rather I felt like sticking to her side than giving a slight shrug with a "Meh. Let me know how it ends."
My cousin gifted me these words of wisdom today, "Your brain is protecting your heart." She may be right. And as this is dementia, I may feel wildly different in an hour; clinging to the hand that brought me into this world, devouring the face that gave me mine, searing my mother onto my heart one last time.