I remember sitting with my mother in August 2011. She was weak from her recent hospitalization, but doing what she always did: expressing her perpetual concern for others. In this case, it extended to a relative of a close family friend, who was welcoming and supportive during Mom’s time at MD Anderson. This woman had to fly to Pennsylvania suddenly to care for an aging mother, who was in her late 90’s, had a feeding tube and was fighting pneumonia.
“Its not fair that Diane’s mother has to suffer so. I can’t imaging anything worse than watching your mother die bit by bit, at the end of such a long life.”
“I can!” I snarled. But my mother missed the irony. She couldn’t see, wouldn’t see, that I was watching her die, bit by bit, and would give the world to have another 4 decades with her in my life. I felt my personal tragedy trumped that of this other woman’s, who had the good fortune of many, many more years with her mother than was destined for me.
Of course, it wouldn’t have been any easier if mom were 98, instead of 58. I never would have been ready to say goodbye, snap the book shut, close the door, say “enough.” Her illness, her suffering would never have been pallatable, even if it happened at a more “natural age.” Heck, in many parts of the world, 58 is downright elderly. Many girls lose their mother long before adulthood, and navigate their entire lives without a mother. They could be envious (and rightly so) that my mother saw me graduate from junior high, from high school, from college, from a masters program. My mother knew my husband, and walked me down the aisle at my wedding. She rocked me as a baby, but also had a rich relationship with me as an adult.
I am fortunate for the time we had together, but it was nowhere near enough.