Monday night Dec 3rd
I'm sitting here alone with my mama in this hospice suite. She is at the end of her life, her breathing is very shallow now. Today everyone in our immediate family was in this room all day. Now they have gone home to get food and clean clothes. I'm in my jammys and wearing mom's robe. She is so peaceful now.
I feel weirdly numb. I'm exhausted that's for sure but I never dreamed I could do this so calmy, so acceptingly...this is Jojo after all. My nephew Nolen, had questions and truly believed there must be something else we could do for his granny. He wanted no stone left unturned. So, he went over to the next building to see mom's doctor who has such a wonderful report with mom and our family. In the oncology office while waiting to discuss his 76 year old grandmother, Nolen talked with a young college student waiting to find out if he had cancer. After talking to the doctor about Jojo, he expressed concern for this young man fearfully waiting in the next room.
When Nolen returned to mom's room he seemed now satisfied that all possible had been done for Jojo.
It's funny how a simple statement from a doctor can change the world. When mom was first diagnosed, the oncologist said simply, without compassion, "you have about six months" period. No treatment options or anything. Oh, he did take time to remind her that well, you knew smoking was bad. Our family doc recommended Dr. Mark Kozloff. After examining mom, Dr. Kozloff said simply with a hand on her shoulder, "we're going to help you". This man never promised a cure but promised to give her time, maybe five years or more. More time to be with her family, do her crossword puzzles, watch her precious classic movies and Andy Griffith and Beaver and Lucy and something new she loved, reading blogs. Time enough to get to know her great-grandson Nolen jr. and to pick names for the new baby due in April.
After office hours, Dr. K came over to the hospice to talk with our family. He and Jojo were quite a pair. They loved to tease each other. He was very fond of her and he was her hero. He not only talked to us about what was happening but about what my mom and our family has meant to him. He showed us his new grandchild and shared with us his family battles with cancer. We could see how hard it was to talk about and that he knew first hand what we were going through. He loved the fact that mom had named the new baby. Before he left, Dr. Kozloff thanked Nolen for his concern and assured him the young man in his office would be just fine.
While waiting for the family to come back that night, I put on Wynona Judd's, I Want to Know What Love Is. Jojo loved that song. We all slept in snatches watching mom's breaths get farther apart until the next morning with us holding her hands they peacefully stopped. Sounds cliche, but it was a beautiful passing. We were with her for a while before calling the nurse. Bill came in and lead us in prayer. Other family members came and we had prayer again, had coffee and made calls-all with mom right there. Writing this, I can't believe that happened.
Marcellus is 9. He has had to grow up and step up a bit during his great-granny's illness. Having raised him from a toddler, she was his parent and his champion. He is the one she dreaded leaving the most. I walked into the room and found Marcellus talking intently to his granny stroking her hands. I gave him his privacy. We weren't sure about how to handle his being so close to a death. It was sad but it was so peaceful and seemed so natural, not scary at all. Can't explain it. He asked questions, cried and said his goodbyes. We all did and then as always for family gatherings, we went to Jojo's house.