Thursday, June 10, 2010

Living With Regrets

Today June 10, 2010 is the 3rd anniversary of my mother’s death. It is still so very difficult. In the beginning I had a very hard time moving past the pain and grief. I would go on - only to be ambushed by overwhelming waves of despair and loss. My tears turned to a deluge, flooding the present.

I felt my life was frozen in time. I was buried in my loss and pain, holding myself prisoner unable to free myself from the grief, consumed by regret.
Recently my friend, Carol, commented how lucky I was. She said, “Your mother was very loving and supportive. Even in her illness you knew she loved you. Some of us never know that kind of love from a parent.”

It is true, I am blessed. As I look back I have some wonderful memories.

I think part of the reason it took me so long to work through the pain was the regret. Mom was in a care facility the last 6 months of her life. She lost a lot of weight and became dehydrated. The hospital was unable to help. I regretted that when she needed me the most I had not been there. I had failed her.

I know that Alzheimer’s affects a person’s ability to swallow. My mother had a lot of dental problems that made chewing painful. I know intellectually that I did the best I could. Emotionally, I blame myself for being unable to take care of her. I know that the facility she was in did the best they could.

December 2006 I was hospitalized with Pancreatitis caused from gallbladder problems. I was in the hospital for 9 days. I did not have enough people to run 24 hour care while I recovered. So we had to move her to a private care facility. I wanted to bring Mom back home as soon as I recovered.

I returned to my teaching job in February. It was taking me much longer to recover than I had expected. Even when I returned to work I was unable to lift my mother by myself. I knew I was unable to care for her at home yet. All mother’s caregivers had other jobs by this point. Knowing this, I had planned to start hiring and training new caregivers as soon as school was out the end of May. Unfortunately, bringing Mom back home was not to be. She was hospitalized Saturday because of dehydration and died about a week later.

I still have regrets. There are days the tears cascade down my cheeks as I remember how tiny and vulnerable she was. I am learning to live with my regrets. Some days I just want to shout - "I want my Mom back!"

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