Prepare all you want – you are never ready.


Mom was tired out.

She couldn’t eat.

Everything tasted like metal.

Water was the only thing

She could tolerate.

She slept a lot.

She watched tv.

She didn’t complain.

On a bad day 

She would say she had the ‘yucks’.

Cold symptoms developed.

And then progressed.

The doctor prescribed antibiotics

And insisted Mom go to the ER

If she became worse.

Not twenty four hours later,

She called me. 

She was much worse.

I had trouble understanding her

Because she was short of breath

And she had not moved 

From the chair she slept in all night.

Mom was sad 

She had hoped the antibiotics would help

She didn’t want to go to hospital

This close to Christmas.

She watched me closely

She wanted me to reassure her

To remove the unspoken fear

That this was it.  

Mom was admitted

Pneumonia, they said.

We were excited with this diagnosis. 

Mom knew this drill.

IV antibiotics, fluids and rest.

It wasn’t the end after all.

“I am going home for Christmas”

She declared to the staff.  

They all accepted her statement as fact.  

I left her

Under the false belief 

She had an infection 

Treatable with antibiotics

She believed

She had five days to heal

And she was determined

To do just that.

She would have stood on her head

If that would make her well enough

To be home for Christmas.

A lot can change in forty eight hours.  

And no matter 

The intellect you have over a situation

The emotional train 

Will let you travel 

Down the tumultuous

Road of denial with ease.  

Mom left a message the next morning.

She wanted me to know 

Before I left to come and see her

She had been moved to a new room

‘A pretty room’, she said with joy.  

She happily described the wallpaper.  

I raced to the hospital.

Something was really wrong.  

Mom was in a quiet room.

Her care was now palliative.  

There was nothing else they could do.  

My head swirled.  

Mom knew what a quiet room meant.

Why was she so damn happy?  

They explained

Mom’s cognition and concentration 

Were ill affected due to the lack of oxygen. 

Her lungs were filling with fluid

Her breathing was very laboured.  


My Mom had changed dramatically.

I was not about to let her believe

She was in a pretty room.

I was not going to lie to her in the end.

This was her life, her body, her death

I was adamant she be made aware.  

The medical team cautioned us.  

‘She may not understand’, they said.

But they didn’t know my Mom.

She was a strong, intelligent, capable woman.

She had been in charge of her treatment

Since the first day of being diagnosed.  

Mom detested secrets and lies

And I respected her way too much

To take away her last bit of control.  

I went into her room.

She smiled 

And I smiled back 

As I watched her rib cage

Work like I have never seen before.  

I had to tell her.  






About inevertoldher

I love my kids, my husband, my four cats and my sister...not necessarily in that order. Writing, singing (poorly but loudly) and laughing keep me happy. When I eat well, exercise and post daily...I am at my best.
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