We’re Gonna Have to Build Our Own Raft

It appears I’m in that stage of grieving wherein I wear all of my mother’s jewelry. (I think it’s Grief Level 6. We’re also moving into Grief Level 7, which is when we begin cleaning out her house and start co-opting pieces of her furniture for own homes. More on that later). You know that scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation where Clark gets locked in the attic and ends up wearing all of his dead relative’s clothing? Level 6 is like that, but with yellow gold instead of terrycloth turbans. As I type this, I’m wearing not one, but two pairs of my mother’s earrings. I’m also wearing a ring of hers–a simple gold band with teeny tiny diamonds–and a butterfly necklace she used to wear all the time when I was little. On my wrist is a gold(ish) bracelet my dad had purchased when he was stationed in Thailand. We buried her in her wedding band, but I’ve already worn her engagement ring. It just happens to fit perfectly on my right…

Twenty-Two Months

My mom has died. I’ll probably fill you in a bit more further down the road (almost as fun as a birth story, I’m sure), but for now just know this: she passed away Tuesday afternoon, almost a week after she started to really shift and we came together to keep vigil. She died at home, in her living room, with us by her side and a favorite young caregiver who knew exactly how to guide us through it. It was no easier after almost two years of knowing it would happen this way. My mother is gone. Yesterday, David and I stopped by Wegmans to get some groceries after a long day spent funeral arranging with Paul and Sarah. I need to stay away from stores for a while, I think, because here’s what happened every single time I passed an older person: “Oh, you’re alive!” I’d think. “Good for you.” Or, “Ah! Still alive for your kids? Must be nice!” I doubt that’s healthy. I took the girls shopping today for dresses to wear next week. It was a sweet…

Update from the Brain Cancer Chronicles: Mom’s Almost There, but Not Quite There, and I’m Not Ready for There Anyway

Let me tell you what’s weird in Brain Cancer World. Two weeks ago, when mom’s hospice nurse came to visit, she declared my mom’s condition “status quo, with deterioration.” I think that means, “Still living, but a little less than she was before.” Last Thursday, a day after we visited with Mary and Tim and one of their brothers and sister-in-law, I got a phone call. Everything the day before had been status quo: Mom slept most of the visit, but when she was awake, she was listening and responding. That day, the day after the visit with the family, something changed, and I raced down to her house. The nurse had stopped by earlier, and noticed that Mom’s color had changed. Her lung capacity was diminished, which we knew, but she had what the nurse called “the Look.” It was this Look she didn’t know how to describe but knew well from her work with dying patients. It’s not a good Look, basically. It’s not a Look we’re going for these days. So, based on…