I had planned to vacation in New England at the beginning of August. My mom is still in my hometown. One of my brothers and his family is nearby. One of our daughters and her family is also not far away. And let’s face it, New England is a lovely place to be in August, when your option is the heat and humidity of Central Florida.
However, 10 days became 30 when we learned that the chemo that we hoped would extend my mother’s life was causing more problems than it was solving. Since her pancreatic cancer was diagnosed at stage 4, we already knew that we were looking at extension, not cure. Now that time frame was shorter, although, as anyone who has been on this journey knows, we don’t know how short.
So I looked at my calendar, called on the fabulous resources of our congregation to fill in on some Sunday and others responsibilities, and cancelled my return ticket. I am so very grateful for the time and support, and frankly privilege, to be exactly where I need to be.
Now I am learning more fully the lingo of hospice. As a minister, I have, of course, been around many people availing themselves of these critical and compassionate services. However, as people keep reminding me, it’s different when it’s your own mother. Yes, it is.
I’m not sure I can explain yet exactly how it is different but being present is giving me lots of opportunity to reflect on my childhood, my relationships, and what it means to come from my small town in southern New Hampshire. While the primary journey ahead is that of my mother, and my primary role is to support that in whatever way I can, I realize I must acknowledge that I, too, am on a journey, a journey that will change me, in ways I cannot yet know.