Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Life Sentence

My mom is dying. She is 51 and young and she is going to die..Soon.

In January she was diagnosed with cholangiocarcinoma. Specifically, cancer of the bile ducts. It is a very rare type of cancer and there are less than 500 cases diagnosed each year in the US. Her Dr. told her that this is only the third case he has ever seen in his 18 years of medicine. Not only is the disease rare, but there is no known treatment which makes the disease terminal as well. Most people die within a year of diagnosis. Some people have been known to live two years with the affliction. No one is known to have made it to three.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be told you are going to die. Not just that you are going to die (because we all will eventually), but that you are in the process of dying at this very moment. Each breath you take, each song you sing, each letter you write, each kiss you give - could be your last.

In one sense, I think we are lucky - my brothers and I. We know when her end is coming. We know that we need to say all the things we want her to hear before she goes. We have the opportunity to tell her what a wonderful mother she is and has always been. We have a chance to reminisce about years gone by and all the crazy, wonderful, significant happenings in our lives. We have a chance to say goodbye. There are so many people out there who have loved ones taken from them in an instant. A car accident, a heart attack, a murder - all claiming millions of lives each year - and the loved ones of those taken would give anything for that one opportunity, that one more minute to say "I love you" and "goodbye."

My mom is dying. She is 51 and young and she is dying. The doctors have found a tumor that can't be removed or operated on or zapped away by some advanced method of radiation and she will die from it.
She is my mom.
She is a grandma.
She is too young.
And she will die.

My mom is a simple person, always enjoying the smaller pleasures in life.
Going out for breakfast.
Reading a good book.
Talking with an old friend.
Playing with her grandchildren.

In one sense I think we are lucky. In a hundred others, I know we are not.

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