The title pretty much says it all. If you want to punch out now, go right ahead.
There's no other way to put it. No polite way, no delicate way...
Cancer is neither polite nor delicate.
The evening of 12 October, Lyssa chose to spend the night at bedside with mom while cousin Suzy and I went home to get some sleep. I don't remember exactly when we crashed but it was reasonably normal for us, maybe 2300 or midnight.
At 0622 hours (which I don't think I'll ever forget), Suzy knocked on my bedroom door and said that Lyssa had called, and mom didn't have much time left. The two of us were dressed, geared up, and on the road inside of fifteen minutes (a personal record). At that early hour it didn't take long at all to get to the hospice and upstairs. In hindsight, I'm quite glad that the spare tire held up.
When we got to mom's room at the hospice, she was laying on her side, a small pump dripping morphine into her infusaport every few seconds, gasping for air. She was quite unconscious.
Every time I think about how to write this post, my mind keeps flipping to the biological logistics - the tumors growing large enough to impede her diaphragm and eating up more than their fair share of glucose and oxygen, the dehydration, the starvation, the malignant cells producing hormones and proteins that they had no business manufacturing and messing other things up...
All I could do was sit next to her bed and hold her hand. Suzy stood on the other side of the bed and held her shoulder. Lyssa sat on the edge of the bed, having been awake for nearly 24 hours by then. Her breathing had slowed to maybe 11 per minute. We said our very last goodbyes and told "remember when" stories around her.
Shortly before sunrise, mom just... stopped breathing. No dramatic slowing of breath, no choking or other noises, no death rattle, she was breathing one moment and not breathing the next. A muscle in her shoulder seemed to vibrate for a second after her final breath, but that was it. Her body began to cool almost immediately. Later, after the nurses came in to remove the last of the medical paraphenalia from her body and rolled her onto her back, I saw livor mortis on her right cheek and ear.
It felt like my hearts went cold.
Now.. now I need to figure out what to do. Death is simultaneously the one thing that everyone on this planet has in common, and the one thing that nobody really knows how to handle.
I'm out of words. I'll probably be away for a while. There's a lot to do now, and I don't know how to do any of it.