It’s been 6 months since mom passed. It’s been a rough time, exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic. There’s not much to do to escape my thoughts and emotions while sheltering at home. Will Ferrell and Adam Sandler films lose their effect after so many viewings.
Every day, I ponder about my decisions during mom’s end-of-life journey: What if I didn’t take her to Thailand? Could I have nursed her better in California? Would there have been a second stroke then? Would I have survived such an undertaking, over a long period of time? Who would have helped me?
I’m an anxious, over-caluculating type of person, so I can’t help but to replay moments and turning points along the way. It’s not healthy, I know and it’s not as simple as turning off a switch.
Misery had been her last year after her second stroke, which left her paralyzed, unable to move or speak. I would shop for medical supplies and prescription drugs, and visited her 2 times per week to deliver the goods, to hug her, to tell her that I loved her, to tell her about my days. I only hope that she remembered me and understood my words.
I watched a strong and fierce woman lose her independence, the lacking support of the American healthcare system, the unprepared and unequal quality level of senior care, doctors and nurses urgently “keeping her alive”.
Her final months were most about the dignity of life, to which I feel a “right-to-die” would have been more merciful.
Regardless, I still remember those moments of closeness. After her 1st stroke, I learned how to cook very healthy, vegetarian meals for her, to which she throughly enjoyed every single day. I think it’s the garlic, basil, and low-salt yakisoba noodles. One evening, she watched me cook, amazed by the new found skills (I could barely make spaghetti beforehand). As I fed her dinner, the gleam in her eye brought an unimaginable amount of joy.
And, before her 2nd stroke, when I told her that I couldn’t care for her myself (implying the necessity of the assisted-living facility), she replied, “I alone. You alone. It’s okay.” She knew she didn’t want to be a burden. Broke my heart.
Such is life. It is unfair. Humankind moves forward regardless, as will I.