My mother-in-law is dying.
Hard words to say about a lady I have known for 22 years now and love very much. Hard words to say when I know the affect they are having on my son, my daughter, my step-daughter, my niece and, more than anyone, my husband and his sister. Hard words to say, in spite of the fact we’ve known it was coming for some time now. Just hard words to say.
Dianne is a smoker. I guess I can say was a smoker now, because she officially “quit” last Friday when she went into the hospital for the last time. She’s been battling COPD and emphysema for some time now – depending on the brief bits of respite her inhalers and nebulizers offered in order to continue to function. We’ve known for some time her condition was worsening but weren’t so prepared for the sudden decline in recent weeks. No level of logic and understanding of the inevitable consequences of smoking makes it any easier to accept when the doctor starts saying words like “nothing we can do” or “hospice”.
I’ve done this hospice thing before, of course. When my father died a few years back, we used hospice care for his final days. I’ve been through the meetings with caregivers and nurses, organizing the delivery of hospital equipment, learning to handle morphine administration and, worst of all, signing the papers that said yes, my father wasn’t going to get any better. This time it’s a bit different. I’m almost, but not really, on the outside looking in. I’m not responsible for the decisions, I’m not signing the papers, I’m not talking to the doctors and nurses. That’s all up to my husband and his sister this time. I’m involved, of course; Dianne will be living out her last days here in our home. I will be providing some care, supporting those who need supporting and generally keeping the basics humming so my husband can dedicate himself to his mom. But supporting is not the same as responsible. I’m not in charge this time around.
It will be quite a roller-coaster over the next few days and weeks. I say weeks, because that’s what we’ve been told to expect. All I can say right now is how proud I am of my husband for taking this on and my children for bravely welcoming this into their home. It’s no small thing my family is doing and I’m nothing but proud of them for doing it. Dianne is loved – wish us luck as we help her on her way.