This is what I have learned about Christmas, there are positively wonderful moments and then there are sad and depressing moments and some in between. THAT IS NORMAL and I have to allow my feelings through it. In a "normal" Christmas without death hanging over, there is anxiety about getting everything done, deciding what exactly "everything" is and plowing forward. I did keep it simple this year, especially with my melanoma experience and George's boards in the middle of it and it was manageable. It was actually really good. I experienced highs of seasonal lights, giving and receiving of Christmas cards, the excitement of my girls, and Silent Night sung in candlelight at church. We had a weekend in New Orleans and it was SO good to get away.
Just got off the phone with the hospice social worker as she had visited with Mary yesterday. I thought I was emotionally "okay" with dealing with Mary, I thought I had "managed" the holidays. I talked with the social worker and she asked how Christmas with Mary went, fairly easy question, right? I started talking and then the emotions came up. In reality the part of Christmas we spent with her which were just visits to the nursing home were dreadful, really really dreadful. It is horribly depressing and sad and one cannot come out of a visit unscathed. But George and I powered through it, we brought presents for the girls to distract them on Christmas Eve before going to church services and then again on Christmas day.
When we walked in on Christmas day, as she was laying face up in her bed asleep, both George and I thought the same thing. Is she still breathing? It wasn't quite relief that she was still breathing. She is now a shadow of her former self. She is bony everywhere, she is in pain. She now has the rash around her mouth area which is a lack of nutrition. She still sits up at times, but there are no positives, no smiles. Her Christmas cards sat unopened. She does pull through to boss me around in small ways, that's how I know she has more life in her.
But if you power through a visit, and put on a protective shield to get through it, the shield has to come down, and I didn't realize I was putting up the shield. Yet it has been coming down the last few days and I fight feeling these sad morose feelings. We are waiting for her to die. We have been waiting for a long time now. She is suffering and we are suffering. I am burnt out. I visit less often especially with the girls out of school and when I do visit, it is tough. It takes a lot out of me to go. This has been going on for too long. Who knew she would hold on in this state. I really want her to let go. The pressure has been ongoing and seems like it will never end.
How long has this been going on? She was diagnosed in September 2010, which was fifteen months ago or 65 weeks or 456 days. Four hundred and fifty-six days of this hanging over our heads. No wonder, I'm burnt out. Her health actually began to decline in December 2009, starting with a case of shingles, unexplained anemia, and weight loss. It became obvious to George and her doctor that it was probably cancer but it took many months to diagnose.
Three other younger people in our community have died of cancer in the meantime. A forty three year old father of three, a fifty seven year old father of two, and an eight year old girl and they all battled the disease for about a year. Why does the seventy nine year old hang on? Her cancer was not as deadly? For two of the cases, I know the aggressive form of treatment is what took the toll on their bodies in the end. There was no aggressive treatment for GaGa because of her age and condition.
All I know is I feel sad, angry, and worn out emotionally. I'm going to leave this post here because I can't wrap this up with a bow. It is healthy for me to say this really sucks, period. I don't have to make anybody feel better. And that is what I usually do and I am learning that I have to break out of what I usually do.