Behind me. The children are probably murdering each other, but right now I am thinking about leaving Mum at the nursing home. Even though I know it was necessary it still haunts me, almost more than any other point. I hated leaving. I felt like I was abandoning a child. I can still see her, shuffling her feet uncertainly as I left.
I obsessively, every few weeks, re-read the blog posts from Mum's decline and death, worrying at them in my mind, remembering the specifics that I didn't write down. The horrible pit-of-the-stomach feeling as I got close to their house, praying fervently for the courage to go in and face whatever was happening. Being afraid that Mum would reject me, that she wouldn't know me, that Dad would refuse help again even though I knew that Mum was starting to become aggressive. Having no idea what to do, when all the choices became bad ones.
Spending Christmas on the floor of my kitchen, sobbing because I was losing my mother, and then getting up and going out to do the next Christmas thing- playing with the toys, making dinner, cuddling and reading the new books. And then back onto the floor to cry again, curled around the pain.
Hating every time Mum phoned me to have another panic fit because there was an imaginary stranger in her livingroom, or even worse, not being able to call her because she didn't know how to hang up a phone anymore. Knowing they weren't eating properly, knowing Mum wouldn't wash because she was afraid of the water, worrying about the medication, the walking problems. Knowing there was no way that my mother would ever need her glasses again.
The moment when I went to the nursing home and found her futilely trying to draw liquid up through a straw, and knowing that she couldn't manage it anymore, and that meant stomach tube or palliative. Laying into the staff anyway for giving her a straw she clearly couldn't manage, when she was acutely dehydrated. And going to Emerg with her and waiting for six hours for a triage, telling her over and over to stay on the gurney and not try to get up. The blank unknowingness of her stare, seeing me but not recognizing.
And then the next day going to the family doctor and talking to her, and making the decision that my mother would not live longer than ten more days, and going out to the pub and eating until I felt sick, coming home and eating more, thinking numbly, "She is never going to do this again. She will never eat anything, ever again".
And all around me I had a huge blanketing force of well wishes and prayer and practical help, and family coming in, flying in, to come and be with us as Mum was moved to palliative. And everywhere and through everything the throb and pulse of the Jesus Prayer and the Nunc Dimmitis, as I prayed my mother through to her death.
And now I am crying at the computer, and Nathaniel, who is still awake even though everyone else has been put to bed, has gone to get the stuffed sloth that Melanie sent me while Mum was dying, and now I am crying because my son is so kind, and I will get off the computer and go do the dishes and we'll pray for Grandma's soul, and I'll fold up the memories for now.