Sunday, December 23, 2007

Life is full of surprises

Tom's mother had a slight improvement the other day. The doctors are amazed and say they aren't quite sure how this happened. She is still in critical condition, but she is conscious now and able to talk a little. She is so very tired though. So, the latest from the doctors is this:

She will stay in the hospital for now. IF (big IF) she ever gets well enough to leave the hospital, she will have to go to the hospice center for the remainder of her life. Hospice is only for people with less than six months to live, so it is obvious what her prognosis is. The hospice center will provide comfort measures for her, but no life-saving heroics like they do in a hospital. It is a beautiful facility and very close to our home. Tom and Steph are handling everything quite well right now. It is still hard, but they are prepared for whatever happens. We all hate seeing her suffer so much. She isn't in pain, but she is unable to breathe well, she can't cough, she is so congested, and her heart isn't functioning properly.

The most difficult conversation Tom and I ever had was on Thursday afternoon when we had to sit Brendan down and explain to him that his Grandma was not going to be with us much longer. He didn't understand at first. It was so hard to tell him. It broke our hearts. Normally parenting comes easy for me, but that moment was anything but easy. It is funny that we (a collective "we" - as in "parents") are so focused on teaching our children about life that we fail to teach them about death. It is a taboo subject. We don't want to scare them. We don't want them to worry or to think about death and dying. And then a situation like this one comes up and we are forced to do it. It isn't a casual conversation at that point. It is a planned - even contrived - speech we give them and expect them to be able to take it all in and understand it immediately. The pathetic part about this for Tom and me is that we just went through this 3 years ago when his Dad died. We knew his mother was in poor health and we'd have to have this discussion with Brendan again soon, but we have neglected it. We knew how upset he was over losing his Grandpa and we didn't want him to worry about his Grandma - so we pretended everything was fine and it wasn't. I feel as if I've failed him in a major way.

Of course, Katie has no idea what is going on at this point. We did take her to see her Gra-Gra yesterday. She knows Grandma is sick, but has no concept of death. We let the kids take their Christmas gifts to Grandma and we took up a small Christmas tree for her. I made a couple of clear glass ornaments with the kids' pictures inside of them (print the picture on a transparency, cut it in a circle the same size as the ornament but leave a tab at the top of the photo, roll up the picture and slip in through the hole with the tab-side up, release the transparency and the tab fits into the ornament's opening and holds it in place). She loved it. We let her open her gifts and we even snuck some divinity (her favorite) in, too.

I'll update again if anything changes. I'll also post some pictures of the kids soon. I have yet to mail my Christmas cards. They will be coming out after the New Year, I'm sure. Too much going on for me to get them ready, re-write my Christmas letter (I had 2 computer crashes and lost my original one), and go to the PO for stamps. Please know that we are thinking of you all!


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