Three Months to Live

So, we got the call a week ago that Mom has three months to live. What started in 2010 as a battle with liver cancer, through no drinking, hepatitis or known cause, has culminated into metastasis in the coccyx and a sacral “lesion.” I thought it might be helpful to some to document these last three months.

A couple days ago, my husband and the kids came with me to say goodbye (in case they’re not here in time when the end arrives) and to drop me off to spend these last three months with Mom. I have a baby business (not profiting in babies! but just started a year ago), so it was a major concern – how to keep it spiraling into massive debt while taking care of Mom? This is my journey.

A few days ago I told her oldest & dearest friends the news. Then, I reached out to my tight-knit business community and asked their advice on how to work in short spurts of time, in between caring for her and spending time with her. They came up with great thoughts, most of them centering on learning to delegate to those who love you & understand the business & also spending as much time as possible with mom, checking in on the delegates periodically to see how things are going.

Yesterday, hospice came, and we had the tough conversations: putting a will in place, planning for memorial or no, virtual or otherwise (given COVID), planning for cremation (whether direct – cheaper – or through a funeral home), whether to bury or no (since they weren’t raised in this community, and none of us live near each other), etc. New Jersey has apparently also legalized an aid-in-dying law, so even a conversation about what to do when pain becomes unbearable. Phew, it was a lot, but getting it out on the table was so much better than wondering in quiet whispers out of earshot of the central figure involved!

Today, we’re building a simple spreadsheet to help her husband know how to pay all the bills – process for paying, all the pertinent user names, passwords, security questions, account numbers, due dates, associated emails & their passwords, associated phone number forĀ  authentication, etc. Again, it’s a LOT and punctuated by many bathroom breaks, letting the pets in & out, regulating her meds – pain & otherwise, getting her to eat & drink, helping her through the medicated brain fog to accomplish simple things like logging into her email. It’s only 10:53, and I’m already exhausted.

I got up at 5 a.m. feeling very refreshed and happy, since I normally only sleep until 4ish these days. It was so nice to sleep in. I used those first three hours of the day to organize the list of people who had acknowledged the difficulty of the situation and offered to pitch in. I am starting to see that reaching out to them and planning how we can all work together will be a big part of my work these days. The tasks I used to do in the business every day will best be, at least temporarily, handled by friends who have offered their loving help. One new business friend even gave $50 for us to have a nice meal together, though of course, it will be take-in since Mom can’t get out of bed for long at a time.

Well, I hear her struggling. She’s calling for Part 2 of the bill saga. I’ll be back.