It’s just under a month from mum’s 2nd anniversary. Not a good anniversary – the anniversary of when she lost a battle against pancreatic cancer. It wasn’t a long battle. She was diagnosed in May and died 15 November. I still battle with what I call my PTSD – the memories of those 6 months – I haven’t been officially diagnosed and it’s nothing like the pain of war, or a horrible accident, or anything like that. It was just me and mum and how helpless I was to help her. She would be up all night, sitting on the edge of her bed rocking because nothing would make her comfortable. It was before we learned that actually saying “I want to be comfortable” seemed to be the key to hospice. They needed to hear her say it.
I have a friend who’s 20 year old cat is failing and she’s waiting for the day when his quality of life no longer exceeds his pain/discomfort. She loves him dearly and has obviously been with him for a long time and the pain of that loss is overwhelming.
The crazy thing that I just can’t shake is that we are allowed to ease our pets from life when their suffering because great enough. We don’t do that for our own loved ones. I don’t understand that. I never will.
Mum and I had this conversation many times over the year. We talked about everything – she was my best friend and I miss her every day. The last time we had the discussion was on Tuesday – she died on Saturday – and it was just before her new hospice nurse arrived. I asked her if she had the right would she have wanted to just end things. I knew the answer but I was still surprised at how strongly she felt. She was fairly furious and she told her nurse as much. It was before we discovered the magic word and her nurse was reluctant to even ask the doctor for a morphine drip to make mum more comfortable until we figured out the importance of comfort. Once we were told that mum had to ask to be comfortable things changed a bit but it was only in her last days. My step-dad said it best – how did a nurse who sat there as mum rocked back and forth not realize or ask about her comfort. It was clear she was in desperate straits.
This crazy juxtaposition between what we can do for our pets and for our loved ones just hit me as I talked to my friend yesterday and as I’m remembering mum’s last days.
It seems so like so much of our other “arguments” in our country. So many conservatives will fight and fight to make sure that women don’t have choice on what they do with their own bodies but as soon as a child is born there seems to be no care for that child’s life. It’s the same with a person’s living and a person’s dying. There is so much care with getting a child born and keeping an old (or sick) person alive but the living and the quality of that life and care are just not that important to those same conservative people.
It makes me sad and I don’t understand it. Why are some people so desperate to make sure that people live every possible day – no matter their own desires – but they want no responsibility for those people. Why are they so desperate to make a woman have a child when she clearly says that she is not ready or able to take on that responsibility for whatever reason. It’s not about the people. It’s about power.
It falls in the same lines with marriage equality or racial equality. What harm does it do to another person. A man who once said “I will not tear down my daughter to make my son stronger”. That rang so true to me. Making one person lesser does not make another stronger. And making another equal does not make the first lesser. Why don’t we just let people be?
It’s one more reason that I am desperately hopeful that a female president following our first African-American President may break this fever. I’m not religious but I hear a lot about grace and I don’t get it. My mum deserved empathy and the right to make her own decisions just as we all do.