Pessimist vs Realist

Some may call me a pessimist on certain subjects.  I prefer realist, although I do catch myself from time to time leaning to the pessimist side.  When it came to my Mom’s illness I know that I appeared to be pessimistic and morbid.  However, I didn’t have the luxury of keeping my head in the clouds.  I was being pushed along the conveyer belt of emergencies, doctors and decisions whether I wanted to or not at a pace that didn’t agree with me.  But no matter how many times I screamed for it to slow down the conveyer belt just seemed to move faster.  So many times I wished that I could just pretend that everything was fine.  Bury my head in the sand and make it all go away.  I would have loved to have had the luxury of optimism.  It was not to be.  I had to be realistic and pessimistic at times; even morbid.  During the last few months of her life morbidity and death were a “normal” part of life.  Death was an unwelcome visitor that wasn’t going away without my Mother and a piece of us that were close to her.

Now I do have to say that we, along with my Mom, firmly believed and were thankful that she knew where she was going when death did take her.  We knew she was going to be happier, and better off with God, my Dad and many other family members in heaven.  The after wasn’t the issue, it was the before and during that was a weight on my shoulders that caused me physical pain, and still does.

As I have stated in other blogs my Mom was in survival mode and couldn’t handle the full brunt of what was happening to her.  I did not and do not blame her for not wanting to know all the details of what was happening and until we have been there we cannot judge.  She entrusted the rest of her care group to understand, make decisions, meet and discuss and only tell her what she needed to know when she was ready.  This was no easy task and put a lot more pressure on us to make the right decisions.  I took her trust very seriously and wanted to be sure that whatever decisions we made were what she would do for herself.   She made the big decisions like whether or not to have surgeries, chemo, and procedures.  But it was us, her main caregivers, which dealt with day to day decisions that seemed endless.

To be able to deal with what was happening and what was going to happen I had to build a hard shell.  I had to keep my mind in check at all times.  At times I felt my mind slipping into, “Maybe, just maybe we can pull this off.”  Or, “She can’t die, that just seems too drastic; so final.”  And I would have to move myself back to the real world because there were people depending on us to make the decisions that would determine where she would live out her days in safety, how, where and when she would die.  Mom refused for months to sign or provide any information or wishes if she were to need life saving measures.  We battled, went behind her back, begged, pleaded, brought in reinforcements but she just wouldn’t sign a Do Not Resuscitate or a Health Directive.  And finally when she did she left it blank except to say that my sister and I were in charge.  As hard as I was pushing myself to reality she was pulling away from it.  In her mind, if she signed a Do Not Resuscitate or wrote down wishes it meant that she was giving up.  So we had to hope and pray that nothing drastic happened before we had those papers signed.

There were times where I felt like the grim reaper.  I made almost nightly phone calls to family members during after emergencies, surgeries, etc.  For at least the last 4 months some family and friends were nervous to see my, or my sister’s caller ID pop up on their phones, or to listen to a voice message.  I would cringe when I would call people and before saying hi I would quickly say, “No emergency”.  Just to ease every one’s minds as quickly as possible.  When people would come to her apartment, especially if they hadn’t seen her in a while I would run to meet them at the door to caution and warn them of her condition in the hall so they could prepare themselves before seeing her.  I felt like I was the constant bearer of bad news.  I felt like I was the downer when in groups of people.  I avoided people during the hard times because I didn’t feel like I had anything good to say.  This was the most negative time in my life and I had no control over the circumstances.  “Choose your attitude” takes a real beating when you are facing the suffering of your Mom day in and day out.  My rule for myself was that I saved my smile for my children and Mom.  My husband knew that sometimes I didn’t even have the energy to smile or speak.  And I know that this sounds like depression but it wasn’t.  It was overpowering, overwhelming, exhaustion of the soul, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I had to save my energy for my Mom.  No matter what was happening outside when I went in her hospital room or her apartment I had a smile and energy.   Everyone else could wait; she couldn’t.

One thought on “Pessimist vs Realist

  1. I remember your weariness, your sorrow, but I also remember appreciating you being real, and not being fake about how things really were going with your mom and yourself.

Leave a Reply