This mortal coil.

I have been faced with my own mortality.

I’m not dying, but I as write this, I am sitting in a small town in Texas while my mother is in the hospital. Still waiting for doctors to figure out what exactly is going on, but to my layman’s eye, it’s not good.  How do I know that it’s not good?  I got a call from my father Thursday night telling me that “it doesn’t look good.”. In my family, that’s an admission of unprecedented scope.  We simply do not a knowledge whenever anything is wrong, from car trouble  to money trouble, and certainly not health trouble.

Honestly, I would have been less surprised to get a call telling me that mom was already dead than I was getting this one letting me know that she is in the hospital.  But, I got on the internet and got on a plane the next morning, because it’s serious.

So, while we wait for the doctors to finish running their tests and try to figure out what’s going on, we can only wait as we watch mom suffer.

And it sucks. I haven’t been home in a long time, but this is no longer the woman who raised me. I had been aware of some of her health issues, of course, but nothing that would have led me to expect a degeneration of this magnitude and rapidity. Constantly asleep, chest and lungs full of fluid (coming from where/what the doctors can’t say), in and out of consciousness and coherence, and already effectively immobilized by severe rheumatoid arthritis, she sleeps curled up in the hospital bed, wheezing and swollen, and all we can do is wait.

And think. And project upon her the worst fears we have as human beings about ourselves and our lives and how those lives will end.

I do not know how this will all turn out. I do not know how soon it will all play itself to a resolution. All I know is that I can’t decide which is worse to see: the extreme physical degeneration or the mental dissociation that is accompanying it.

So, while I titled this entry/rant “This Mortal Coil,” I have been trying to reconcile in my mind which is worse, for both my mom and, eventually, for me: the end of the body or the end of the mind? Which is the actual death, the end of “us”?

I don’t know. All I know is that my mom is sick, and there is nothing I can do but wait.

And I can’t decide whether it is even worse to be stuck in this purgatory of uncertainty.

5 thoughts on “This mortal coil.

  1. Hi Mark – just hold her hand, or rest your arm on hers … talk gently with her and make sure your father is cared for in all his needs – he will be suffering hugely …

    It’s your parents now … this is where we have to hold ourselves in and be as caring and empathetic to all around us … and thus in the process we help ourselves.

    Sadly life creeps up on all of us … you may not have much time … but you have that little space to be, to be with your mother, and to care and be with your father … my thoughts – it’s just not easy ..

    With hugs – Hilary


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