A Journey of a Different Kind

The hiking trip in the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains was abruptly cancelled when my mom fell and broke her hip on the day before we had planned to leave. The short version of the long story is this:

Mum fell on Saturday and after a grueling day of waiting in the emergency room, she was admitted for surgery to repair a broken hip. She survived the surgery but her dementia took on a new and unsettling turn. She was released from the hospital on Monday evening and delivered back home under hospice care. My sister, her daughters, and I cared for Mum in shifts with the support of my neighbor who has over twenty years of experience in caring for patients with dementia at the end of life. By Wednesday, Mum was gone.

The journey of grieving, healing, bonding, and celebrating her life and her release from pain, is now a month long. Every day is a surprise as my mind adjusts to the new normal that doesn’t include caring for her. At first there was the whirlwind of visitors and condolences where emotions spiked and plummeted seemingly without reason. Then came the sleeplessness, ruminating through the night about how I could have been more patient, more attentive, more loving. Wandering listlessly in a sleep-deprived fog, I wondered how something so long anticipated could have come as such a shock.

11 thoughts on “A Journey of a Different Kind

  1. I’m so sorry to hear that she has passed. My father was ill for many years and bedridden for the last 2. It is never easy even when expected. I will keep you in my thoughts as you explore the new normal…

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    1. Thank you. We are all grateful that Mum was never bedridden until she fell. I had often prayed that she would die peacefully in her sleep because she was so eager to be finished with this life. Her passing was a huge blessing. That said, I miss her terribly.

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  2. That was a pretty “short version.” Seems you feel pretty much the same as I do about talking about it. I didn’t want to talk about it while it was fresh, and now it doesn’t seem important to tell anyone about it. I am glad that the latest pictures of Mum keep popping up on my screen saver; and I really felt like going for a drive this week, with all the gorgeous clouds. But didn’t figure it was worth the gas without Mum to go along.

    I did journey all the way to the west side of town, today, to go to the pool store. There have been some pretty drastic changes made while I’ve been hunkered down in my house. Naturally when things disappear I muse about what was there, before, and why I didn’t take pictures. It was all just part of the scenery before. Nothing remarkable. Now, all that’s left of those dumpy houses, on Alabama and some of the surrounding area, is the piles of rubble.

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  3. Judy, Very sorry for your loss – my heartfelt condolences. The end of life is often full of twists and turns and unexpected (in a bad way) surprises. It’s nothing like the idealized version we play over and over in our heads, where everything goes smoothly and is carefully planned. Give yourself credit and take comfort in all that you did for your mom so that she was not alone or scared in her time of need.

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    1. It is indeed a learning experience! We are subtly changed by grief; life seems so much more ephemeral when we’re confronted with the end. There is so little time left to travel to all the places I haven’t seen and re-visit the places I love.
      Thank you for your kind and thoughtful comment.

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