Birth month of my Mom, my brother and my niece.
Birth month of several friends and coworkers.
First month of the new year, a time for renewal.
Also a time to look back, to ten years ago. To the most painful January of my life.
Other Januarys I don’t remember so vividly. I remember January 2003 as the last twenty days of Mom’s time on earth. Of her last trip to the doctor, when he admitted her to the hospital for observation. During the exam, that morning in early January, he saw something he did not like. Definite progression of the leukemia.
I remember time spent in the local hospital…. hours upon hours that changed our family. I remember Dad being in the next room, recovering from prostate surgery. The hospital staff setting things up so that Mom and Dad could have rooms next to each other. As soon as Dad could manage, he could go visit Mom. I remember Mom’s birthday, January 12th, spent in the hospital. The nurses put together a special treat for Mom in celebration. We all appreciated this lovely gesture.
I remember how tired she was, yet how very hard she fought the leukemia. I remember her willingness to take medicine that would target its efforts on the cancer cells and I remember the effects of that medicine. It ravaged Mom’s body and last amount of health. I remember her last bone marrow biopsy. She was a courageous, strong woman… she took no general anesthetic, only a local shot. Each biopsy was that way. I was with her that last time and held her hand as the DR drilled into her hip bone to extract the sample of ravaged bone marrow. I remember talks with the oncologist, a family meeting to discuss medication to ease Mom’s discomfort. I remember the morning we had to have the DR start the morphine for Mom, knowing that it would greatly shorten her life. Yet, we had to allow her to be comfortable. I remember snow gently falling that morning… she would have loved to witness the peacefulness of that day. I remember when she lost the ability to communicate, when the port that allowed medicine and blood products to be administered flipped and was no longer viable…. she then had to have IVs. I remember her last visitors, many supporters of her struggle and of her family.
I remember her last moments…. it was a beautiful, peaceful and yet profoundly sad time.
It has been ten years and how it feels to me now, it may as well have been ten minutes ago.