Today, just now, my mom was admitted into hospice.
In Pennsylvania, at least when facilitated by and paid through Medicare, you're admitted into hospice when a physician has determined you have six months to live. In my mom's case, this is connected to an advancing case of COPD that now makes it difficult for her to go up and down the stairs without losing her breath. She has other health issues, including an aortic aneurysm that is slowly enlarging and can't be ameliorated through surgery due to her fragile condition. She's had two recent mini-strokes and she's in the early stages of dementia. So, I suppose this new categorization shouldn't have shocked me and my dad. But it did, of course.
The nurse who arrived to talk to us about all this asked us a lot of questions about extraordinary measures to save my mom's life and if we've picked a funeral director and whether we want chaplain services. My dad and I numbly mumbled answers (no, we don't want any; no, but we're thinking cremation - it's starting to be a family tradition, after all, since my brother's death - no, we're not at all religious, but boy, it's times like these I wish we were). I found myself hating the nurse, who's name was Becky. Becky should be a cheerleader. Becky should be a capable mom, arranging car pools and swim lessons. Becky shouldn't be the woman who comes to tell you your mom is dying.
I've been told that I need to face up now to this fast-approaching loss. It'll make it easier in the end, my friends say. But the truth is I'm already at the very edge of my ability to cope. These last couple of months I've felt so relentlessly hopeless that I'm not certain I can take one more blow right now, one more goddamn tragedy in the endless stream that the past few years have brought. And so I've been willfully, with a streak of pure, perfect stubbornness I inherited from my mom, disregarding this looming eventuality. Breakdown now or breakdown later? Later seems the better answer.
I've been afraid for as long as I can remember of being alone. It's the fear at my center, the one that has motivated so much of what I've done in my life. And now here I am at 51, on the precipice of it. Unable to even date, if the truth be known, because my last relationship was so damaging I'm terrified I'll end up with the same type of man. My brother dead, my mom dying. My dad, 85 and walking around with kidney issues and an unhealed broken neck, getting a little bit more frail every day. No family here. No close friends, they've all scattered to the winds like starlings lifting off from a telephone line. No kids. I might as well be adrift in deep space. The future feels as cold and merciless as I imagine it to be.
I'm so fucking scared. I'm so scared.
And I don't know what to do. I'm less than six weeks away from climbing the tallest mountain in the Western Hemisphere, the thing I've spent the past 18 months directing so much of my energy, except what I've spent trying to care for my mom and dad, toward achieving. Getting to and up that mountain is the goal that's guided me through the the pain. The heartbreak and the loss. It's kept me sane and promised me a future less ordinary. If I give up now I don't know what will happen to me. But going up Aconcagua is a three-week trip. How can I leave my mom and dad for three weeks now?
I'm trying so hard to be strong. I'm squirreled away in my room, writing, because it's the safest place I have. But I've got to stop crying and go hug my dad. After that, I don't know.
1/5/2018 03:02:25 pm
You are so much stronger than you know, Jill. Those of us on the interwebz can't be there in person for you, but we still have your back.
1/5/2018 09:19:47 pm
Hugs to you. I lost my mom on Christmas Eve in 2016. It sucks. Even though my dad and both step parents are alive, sometimes I feel like an orphan. As Tom said, you are stronger than you know.
1/11/2018 03:00:43 am
I love you, Miss Jill. I am sending you all of my love and I want you to know that I am thinking of you. You know where to find me.
2/14/2018 12:47:01 pm
"Hope" is the thing with feathers -
3/5/2018 06:37:48 pm
Jill, we don’t know each other that well, and have only been together twice, but I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you that I am here for you. More than that, I LOVE your energy and being around you. I’ve done the alone thing for nearly four years now and getting used to flying solo - like a bird whose species has been eradicated and must brave the winds alone - is not something I want for you. I am here. I adore you. I will be your punching bag, your bar buddy, your #2 so you’ll feel safe, and whatever you need me to be, because I do not want you to think that you’ll end up with no one to call a friend in this area. I realize that you were born with true wanderlust in that brave soul of yours, meaning you’ll probably live on the road or move when the time comes, but until then, “you’ve got a friend in me.” Don’t despair, my friend, there is always something, even a tiny twig of a thing, to hang on to. I’ll be your twig. 😉 From my odd and overly unique heart to yours, Vanessa. Don’t lose hope, Jilly Bean - I won’t ever lose hope in you.
6/21/2018 12:45:51 pm
i am sorry that you struggle with mental illness, but that doesn't make you and expert on someone else's inner life. kate spade was a BILLIONAIRE. she had a young child who needed her. she was murdered by her husband for her money and he paid off the police and coroner to get away with it. they love that gig. you don't know anything about her mental health, aside from the lies the murderers are disseminating about her mental health now that she is gone and can't speak for herself, are saying. please control your impulse to project your reality on others and do what you are supposed to do as a writer.
12/3/2018 11:26:47 am
Basically this gleesonreboots site has been giving us about determined programs and technical concepts for health issues. The fragile condition for questions and observing the questions for better improvement.
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Jill Gleeson is a journalist based in the hills of western Pennsylvania. She is a current contributor to The Pioneer Woman, Country Living, Group Travel Leader, Select Traveler, Going on Faith, Wander With Wonder, Enchanted Living and State College Magazine, where her column, Rebooted, is featured monthly. Other clients have included