Sunday, May 10, 2015

On Mother's Day

This might be our last Mother's Day.
My mother is dying, 
and she's doing it on her terms.

You see, my mother has end-stage kidney disease because
of her many years of diabetes.
And, she is refusing dialysis.
And, I am supporting her decision.

In 2003, when I was going to graduate from medical school,
my mother was told that she would need dialysis
within the next 6 months.
She refused.

She told her nephrologist that she would take
whatever medication it would take to keep going
without dialysis.
She told him that she would follow
whatever diet, no matter how restrictive, to keep going
without dialysis.

And, she did.
For 10 years.

And, then in 2013 her nephrologist called me
to tell me to talk my mother into getting dialysis,
because it was time and her kidneys were worse.

I talked to her.
I talked to him.
I talked to her, 
and she said "no!"
So, I talked to him.

And here we are.

A few months ago she asked me how it would go.
I told her that her body would start getting weaker
and that some dangerous electrolytes in her body would build up
and that one day, her heart would probably go into a fatal arrhythmia 
because of the buildup of potassium
and that would be it.

She nodded in understanding, sighed
and said, "OK"
then changed the subject to something about 
the cruise we have planned in September.

In April, for her birthday, we traveled to all the 
National Parks in Utah and added Great Basin in Nevada
and Death Valley in California.

And, as on all road trip, we talked,
but this time it was about such things as
where she wanted to be buried
(not in the ground, in a mausoleum,
and not near the bottom but as high as she can
for the view,
and she would have liked to have been
buried at Rose Hills, but then decided she
wanted to stay at our local cemetery
because "everyone I know" is there.)

She told me where all the important papers are.
She changed her bank account so I could be on it.
She's told me what to do with everything from
her beloved Miata to the ceramic figurines my
grandmother painted and which fill our house.

She doesn't want to plan anything beyond September.
She's become more introverted.
And, I worry how much time is left.
I noticed this last trip how tired she is,
how frustrated she is in her body that is failing.

And my soul is breaking because I can't imagine a world
without her in it.
But, I've had to start facing it.

So we wait.
We slowly plan week by week.
Month by month.
With a goal of September.
So that she can see Alaska.

And, I can see it alongside her
and keep that memory forever.
Like all the little ones I've been collecting
over the last several months,
never knowing which one might be
the last.
And, hoping beyond hope,
that she makes it to September
and Alaska.

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