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 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?
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.
And I smiled back
As I watched her rib cage
Work like I have never seen before.
I had to tell her.