Is This It?

As February approached its end, I considered the old line that says “March comes in like a lion” and wondered about the impending storm.
We’ve had a rough winter, they say. Too many storms and snow days. But I’ve loved it. I love to be cozy as a storm swirls around me, sitting in my armchair with a blanket, book, and beverage.
I would only emerge from my nest for walks to explore the snow piles, visit the pub, and have Saturday morning breakfasts with my mom.
I used to prioritize Bettianne’s legendary Saturday morning workout classes, but at some point this shifted. It occurred to me that my mom wouldn’t be here forever, and I should hear what she has to say, today. So years ago, I introduced a new habit of seeing her weekly for our leisurely coffees.
I’m a sleepy sort. All this snow and dark lulled me into hibernation.
I was sleeping on what was happening in front of my very eyes.
I was not prepared for what March had in store.
I was beginning to feel weird about how my mom was doing.
I was trying to work, couldn’t concentrate, put on some music, and Agnes Obel’s haunting words sank deep into my consciousness: “It’s happening… happening… happening…”
I threw off my earbuds and raced to see my mom.
What I found had me hustling her into the ER here in Steinbach.
I sat by her side as life-saving activity swirled around us — mom in the centre of the storm, and me on the sidelines, staring, afraid to even blink lest I lose connection with her entirely.
Hours later, she was transferred to the ER at St. Boniface. We arrived around 3:00 in the morning. I spent the next three days by her side in the ER. By night, I’d leave to try to rest but it didn’t go especially well.
I kept thinking how this had crept up on me. I’d lost her abruptly. No more breakfasts wherein she would, unprompted, tell me bits of family history as memories would surface in this time of leisure.
I wasn’t ready.
I thought I would be.
I was investing regularly in this connection, well ahead of the point at which I supposed this might end. I was confident I’d have at least two more decades of coffee times with her.
Then suddenly it was looking like it had ended.
I was devastated. I hadn’t taken the careful notes or paid attention like I’d thought.
Is this it?
Is this the moment I’ve been dreading?
Those were all the days I was going to get with her? Are there no more?
These terrible thoughts washed over me in those long hours standing over her bed in the ER.
What would I do differently? What would I change?
I’d pay more attention.
This is about my experience, not her health.
I haven’t been a fan of writing about health in detail because it sets the stage for snake oil salesfolk. Even just sharing about my own personal diagnosis of RA has resulted in this. I won’t tolerate this kind of predatory behaviour and couldn’t care less about the feelings of people preying upon the wallets of the vulnerable.
Also of note,
I’m able to write now, because I’ve got her back, thanks to the fantastic care from healthcare professionals at Bethesda Hospital and St. Boniface Hospital.
The point here is not to seek health advice. The point is that we can lose the chance to connect with our loved ones much more abruptly than we ever allow ourselves to consider.
Quite suddenly, this’ll be it.
(Feature photo: a tunnel in the historic St. Boniface Hospital. I hope someday to linger over the plaques that line the this muraled wall. But in the moment I only took a quick picture of my mom in transition. You cannot see her. But she was at the centre of it all, for me, in these moments.)
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