You never want to tell a friend that you understand when her mom has terminal cancer and she knows that her mom is done and she is ready to let go. That you under stand when she wants her mom to not be in pain any more. That as much as you love them you know it’s time to let go for them.
At 76 my mum ate healthy, walked everywhere, played tennis, fiddled, danced, volunteered. She could run us all into the ground. She had all of the tests you were supposed to have and since my cousin had died from an internal cancer she had more. That was why on the Friday night, when she called to say she had pancreatic cancer I couldn’t believe she was sick. The n I wanted to believe that she could beat it. She was my mum. She could do anything. My mum always said she would live till 108. I don’t know why she picked that age but I always liked it. As healthy as she was it was never supposed to be 76.
I did everything I could to make sure she got the best care as did my step-dad. When I couldn’t attend her appointments in person – I live in Colorado and she was in San Francisco – I would attend by phone. She had a choice between the University of San Francisco or Stanford. I don’t think it would have made a difference. I can’t let myself think it would have made a difference. We thought either would be as good. Stanford was supposed to be one of the best places to go to -it wasn’t. From hours long waits to so many medication questions and near mess-ups that it soured my mum on all doctors. She tried two rounds of really tough chemo and that was it. At the end of those treatments her cancer had grown, moving outside of her pancreas. I was with her at that appointment. It was her death sentence. She wanted to make one more trip to Europe. The doctor told her that it was a risk and that she shouldn’t wait into months with double digits to do anything. It was August and she wasn’t going to get to Europe. We did a lot. Said her goodbyes but there were some items on the bucket list that were unmet.
My mum indulged me with one more appointment. To the calm, prompt, almost serene UCSF. I needed to know if there was anything else to do. Anything that would keep her with us, me, longer. The doctor there asked me a question. Why do you die? It was a human question. Something we never got from Stanford. It was the reminder that life doesn’t make you any promises. That was her last real doctor’s appointment she switched to a homeopathic doctor and vitamin c infusions. She never saw a doctor in hospice. I don’t think it made a difference.
I feel selfish a lot especially when I see mothers who have their children torn from them. Seeing the parents of Sandy Hook, parents of black and brown children who have been killed by the people who were meant to protect them. Parents who have lost their children to this horrible awful disease. It hurts so much, having lost her.
I miss my best friend, my mum, I hate this disease. I want the “moon shot” that President Obama set Joe Biden on. The quest to end this disease. We’ll never stop all loss but we can’t give up on the hope to end as many stupid ones as we can.