Friday, March 14, 2014

The scent of memories

Two babies are sleeping, one is resting.  Windows are open for the first time this year and I have lavender oil in the effusion lamp.  It brings to my mind the scent of my mom in the nursing home.  She was 52 and dying from pancreatic cancer.  Her best friend, Carol, had brought her the lamp when she was at my aunt's house on hospice, with the lavender oil, and for the past seven years I haven't been able to bring myself to put any other scent into it. I'd spent an hour, frantically searching for the exact brand, the exact scent that had been my mom's.   

So I sit back with my coffee, feel the breeze, and picture her while I paint her nails, which never grew for her before.  She sits in her hospital bed with low pig tails under her pink checkered blanket that my coworkers bought for her.  She doesn't know what is going on most of the time, but she loves having us all there.   She smiles more than she could ever force herself to before.  We alternate visiting her, my aunt, my dad and I.  I've brought Gary and Benny a few times, but it's getting harder for them to see her like this.  She is not in the kind of pain that she had been the last ten years or so of her life.  Yes, we are thankful for that.  Thankful that she doesn't have the fear of the nursing home like she did when the topic had been brought up.  I almost forgot about pretending to light her cigarettes because she would fall asleep in the middle of smoking.  Almost forgot about finding her in the dining room asleep at the table during a meal.  Sometimes I don't want to remember.  But I have to.  Usually, my husband will light the lamp for me, and I will just smile, "that's my mom's."  

Today is different.  

It's not making me sad, just remember.  Honestly, I think what I'm remembering is the relief I felt when it was over.  I was so thankful for the nine additional months she got than 2-3 weeks she was given when the cancer was found.  Thankful that my work would let me come in late so that I could visit her at my aunt's house every morning.  These aren't my only memories of the end, but the rest are too gross, or too personal or too heartbreaking to share.  But the pain is over, the fear is over.  My babies anticipating her death, just waiting, is over.  Watching her body deteriorate is over.  

I would give anything to have her meet her three newest grandsons, to see how Gary and Benny have grown, meet my husband, to taste my cooking!  But that's not for today.  Today is the relief that her hurt is gone.