Saturday, March 20, 2010

Day by Day

We are still here.

My mom is a wonder.

I am soaking up the beautiful Spring weather - so incredibly gorgeous. The hard part is trying to decide whether I can be happy (so hard not to with beautiful weather) or if I am sad. I think I am both. Watching someone die brings out all of your feelings and beliefs about spirituality, religion, etc. I am a believer. I believe in God (though not a personified one necessarily) and I can feel happy that my mother is going to pass from this world into another realm of experience. I know that she believes that as well and it is an incredible comfort. But that does not mean that this is all easy.

I really did not expect that I would still be writing about such things, I would have imagined that my mother would have passed by now, but the human spirit and its will to live are incredibly strong in this woman. Could be some of that famous stubborn streak that seems to run thick in our family (I'm told we can thank the Irish for that). We are now at two weeks with no food and a few days with virtually no liquid due to her inability to swallow without coughing and hacking for 5-10 minutes - and that is when I can get her to open her mouth. Really, how is this possible?

Now all of this is not without rewards though. At first glance she can appear to be completely unresponsive, but spend a bit of time with her and you will notice the little expressions - the raised eyebrows, the pursed lips, the smile and sometimes even a wink. She is still there. The other night as I was going to bed and turning over her care and attention to Ari and Brenton I called from the kitchen on my way to my room, "Good night mom, I love you!" and I heard her say from the other room "I love you too". I stopped dead in my tracks and felt such joy and gratitude. I know what it takes for her to speak and to do it so clearly is not easy for her. It was a gift I will cherish for all of my days.

So I am still here, as I have said before, watching every breath and the increasing spaces in between.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dusting off - press reset.

I have a confession to make.

This is no longer a knitting blog.

I just don't really knit that much anymore. I occasionally pick something up and work on it, but it really hit me when I went to Stitches West a couple of weeks ago and very easily breezed past booth after booth of lovely fiber and yarn. There was no yearning to stop and touch everything, no dreaming up of projects, no drooling over the cashmere (though this is the one thing that I did actually purchase). I still knit, but I can no longer define myself as "a knitter".

I think part of it is that since taking up photography again, my artistic-creative needs are being met in that way. It is possible that knitting was a placeholder for this part of me. I still appreciate patterns and textures, I just find/create them with my camera more these days. It is certainly a shift in my identity, in a way. But, it also made me realize something; knitters, crafters, spinners... you are all artists.

Now, on to other news. So, above I said that I was at Stitches. Well, the astute or "in the know" among you will realize that this event takes place in Santa Clara, California. Not Bangalore. So, yes, I am in Santa Clara. Many of you reading this will already know, but for those who don't I will give you a short run down of what is going on in my life.

I came here with my family at the beginning of December so that we could be here for the holidays. One week before we left I spoke to my mother on the phone and she had just been diagnosed with cancer. By the time that we arrived her diagnosis had changed from stage I and highly treatable to stage IV and not curable. Now, it was treatable, the idea being that she could prolong her life by doing chemo, so my mom was ready to get started right away with treatment. The short version of the story is that she had a really bad reaction to the chemo which lead to her having a couple of strokes. This made her go from a fully functioning, still working, driving and living independently human being to an invalid. She lost all movement from the neck down excluding her left arm and hand. She was still able to speak, but did not always make sense.

After one week in the hospital, they transferred her to hospice care and we had to move her to a convalescent hospital. Now, I have to say here that I NEVER thought that I would put a family member in such a place, but there was no other choice. We did find a nice place for her though and I really have no complaints about the care she received there (not sure about the food though!) After 7 weeks there I was able to have her moved to our home in Santa Clara. Our tenants had coincidentally moved out recently and she had become stable enough to care for her at home.

We have been here two weeks now. We miss some of the characters from the convalescent hospital (there were some great ones!), but here it is peaceful, the garden is blooming, we hear birds chirping and we can relax a little more. Mom is dying. I know this. She knows this. At this point, she is not really eating or drinking anything, so I really don't expect her to last too long. I am just grateful that she is here, that things are calm and peaceful and she can go at her own pace.

So I am here caring for my mom. I am occasionally overwhelmed. I am sometimes in awe. I am amazed by how beautiful she is, how gloriously strong her body is, and how "present" she is when I least expect it. My mom is an amazing human being and I am so incredibly grateful to be able to be here with her through this.

So, more another time, and it is good to be back.