31 Days: Live Intentional {Day 16} October 16, 2009

by Lisa on October 16, 2011

October 16, 2009, after spending two days in Seattle with Andrea and Ale, Mom flew home by herself. I did not go to the airport to pick her up—the girls had ballet, and she said it wasn’t really a big deal.

I hurried over the next morning to see her. Ready to hear all about Ale’s wedding. Ready to hear how Francesca was doing, and how her kids were growing. Ready to hear about all the wedding dresses Claudia tried on for her nuptials the following July. Ready to hear about yummy new Italian dishes they tried. Ready to hear how Oma &  Opa (my host parents in Holland ) were doing. Ready to actively listen to all her wonderful tales of European country-hopping. And, ready to move past the difficulty, and stain, we’d had in our relationship over the past couple of years.

I opened the door. She was sitting on the couch. She got up to come to me. “Mom, what’s wrong? What did you do? Why are you limping?” “Oh…it’s no big deal (the same phrase I’d hear over and over the next six months),” she said. “I just hurt my back a little on the trip, and it’s still bothering me.” We hugged, sat down, and started chatting. During the visit I could tell she was experiencing a lot of discomfort and pain. I kept telling her she really needed to go to the doctor.   She would just smile and say, “Old age.” Back home, I voiced my concerns to David, but didn’t dwell on it too much as I figured with rest, and time off her feet, it would go away.

Kid activities took over the next week, and seven days went by. My Dad flew back into Eugene. Mom picked him up from the airport and we were to meet up at the girls’ dance-a-thon. I was there early to help out. Mom and Dad showed up next, and David arrived later with all three monkeys.

With the spaghetti all cooked, I joined my family in the main room to watch the kids in action. Loud music blasted from the speakers. Kids jeted and wiggled on the dance floor. The disco ball threw little bits of light here and there. Mom spied an old friend across the dance floor and got up to move over and say hello. As she walked around the room it seemed like she was dragging her leg—almost as if she’d had a stroke. Worriedly I remarked to Dad, “Her back is worse than last week. She really needs to go see a doctor. Something is not right.” I told her the same thing when she returned to her seat. Her reply again, “Ahh…It’s no big deal.”

David and I watched them leave. We peered over the balcony and looked on as they went down the stairs. It was a slow, tedious, and painful decent. Dad held onto her, and she clung to him. David looked at me, “I’m worried about your Mom. She can hardly move, and she can barely pick up her foot. Something is really wrong.”

Those words, and that scene, replaying over and over in my mind, was just the beginning of our decent into hell.

And, it was just the beginning of our ascent into heaven—parallel journeys, side by side, at the same time.

The days went by and she continued to get worse. She was in severe pain—agonizing pain. Her physical mobility was getting worse. She made an appointment to see the doctor. Before she visited the GP, and still not knowing what was going on, she also made an appointment to see a physical therapist. The therapist manipulated her in such a way that she could not move the next day. After a trip to urgent care and a prescription of pain pills, she called the doctor now desperate to get some relief. The only thing they did before her scheduled appointment was give her another dose of pain meds and tell her to wait a few days until the doctor could see her. The doctor did (finally) see her, and couldn’t find anything wrong so a MRI was scheduled. The MRI spied suspicious spots on her pelvis and spine, and a bone biopsy was ordered.

December 9, less than two months from her return from a memory-making, glorious vacation, my 62 year old mother—the one that was an avid runner, having never, not ever, one day in her life raised a cigarette to her lips—was diagnosed with stage Iv non small cell lung cancer. A go-home-get-your-affairs-in-order kind of diagnosis. A diagnosis that leave you feeling sucker-punched in the gut. A diagnosis that makes you want to hate the doctor, scream at the world, shout at God, and cry in disbelief. A diagnosis that makes you want to plug your ears and stare at the floor while you sit stunned in the patient room with four other people. A diagnosis that you would not wish on your worst enemy, let alone your Mom. A diagnosis that you know, now that it has been said, is going to forever change your life—and, there is not a bloody thing you can do about it.

Two years ago today since that European return. 730 days. 17,520 hours. 1,051,200 minutes. 63,072,000 seconds. Countless tears. Never ending grief. A lifetime ago.


To read more about my Mother’s battle with lung cancer and her victory over eternal death, please visit her CaringBridge site.


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