Never did I think the camera in my phone would be so important to me, but without it, I never would have gotten this shot of my Mom. The last photo of her. She died on October 9th. I took this after I took her for a haircut just a couple of weeks prior to that.
She hated having her picture taken....even more than I do. Had I pulled out the "big gun" no way - no how would she have let me take a picture. But....my phone was OK ;)
This is so her. LLBean mock turtleneck (she had this exact shirt in probably 12 colors), fleece vest, reading glasses latched into the top of her shirt. My Mom's "look" in a nutshell.
My Mom was diagnosed with esophageal cancer on June 3rd of this year. After many many doctor visits, even more tests, she made the decision to forgo radiation or chemo (surgery was not an option) and live the remainder of her life on her terms. With her underlying health issues there were just too many opportunities for severe complications. She didn't want to spend the rest of her life shuttling to appts, hospital stays, only to *maybe* extend her life a few months.
I have so much admiration for her. It was an incredibly difficult decision to make. I feel very fortunate to have been there for her every step of the way. I became her right hand, and thankfully I have an amazing husband and an equally amazing son who were there for both of us.
We were able to talk about anything and everything those last few months. There was never a sense of urgency to it, just the knowledge that this was the time to put everything to rest, and to give us both the chance to know all we could about each other.
I never in my life thought I could do this. It was the most difficult time in my life, and considering we lost my sister just a year ago, that's saying a lot. I am so very grateful we had this time together, and that I was able to care for her. I have been changed profoundly. I always thought I'd want to go quickly like my Dad did. Now I don't think so. I want to have that last time with my family, sharing, laughing, crying, understanding each other in ways never thought possible. Making those deep and meaningful connections. She died with her grace and dignity intact, as she wished.
I've also learned a lot about human nature. Been very disappointed by those I thought were close to her/me. I have close blood relatives who still have not acknowledged/mentioned her illness let alone her death in any way, even though I have spoken with them since, and given them things of my Mom's. Isn't that just the oddest thing? My Mom was so hurt, and I still hurt for her. I try to get inside their heads to figure out why that is, but I just cannot wrap my brain around it in any way, shape, or form.
On the other hand, we both had some amazing people in our lives the last few months. Kind, understanding, and caring doctors and other health care providers. An amazing Hospice team...most notably the social worker who really helped my Mom and I to "get" each other and understand that the physical things going on with my Mom were not unusual, nor were the emotional things. And I need to mention my husband again who pretty much held down the fort for 4 months. As well as my son who was there for both my Mom and me. Never thought I'd be crying on the phone with my 21 YO, you know? I love them both more than ever.
Wow this is an epic post and a bit on the rambling side...sorry! I miss my Mom something fierce. But, I am doing ok, really I am.
My lovely Mother, Sandra Dreiling Nolte. And once again, I have to say thank you iPhone for having a camera in your phone :)