I was looking at pictures yesterday and was struck by how much my mother’s looks changed after she had the stroke. The pictures from the last couple of Christmases were very dramatic, she was clearly not entirely present, especially her last Christmas, lost somewhere between life and death. Somehow I can feel her consciousness as it receded deep within her, brought back on occasion by something or the other. We all felt that, it was obvious, but I guess I just didn’t process it quite like I did today. Even with her failing health, she still could return from wherever she was and keep up a conversation. Until this last Christmas, it seemed as though she had a chance. But even at that, her last few weeks were something that should not have happened. Watching her die and the manner in which it came about was not a memory that any of us wanted.
Before she became unable to speak because of all the medical foul-ups and before she lapsed into unconsciousness as a result of those foul-ups, she was in a great deal of pain from surgery to remove about 18″ of her colon as a result of cancer. She had asked me when she could get the hell out of there and go back “home” to the nursing facility in which she had been staying. When I told her that she had to remain in the hospital, she became agitated and cried out that she didn’t want to be told that. The helplessness of it all was not familiar territory for that lady or for her children.
I wrote a letter detailing her last couple of weeks and how it had come to pass, and sent it to a lawyer about mid-March to review and see if we have a case that can be won against the hospital and her doctors. It is something that my brother and sister agreed we had to do. Watching her die when it was so unnecessary was just not something we could walk away from without getting an opinion other than from the hospital and the doctors that were involved. For whatever reason (the lawyer was out for a month with his own medical problems) the three-week review process has turned into nearly three months. Yesterday I finally got somewhere with it, though it remains in the embryonic stage. But I talked to the lawyer and he was interested enough to want all the records sent to him so he could have an internist review them. Most of these records we have since my brother ran around and obtained copies. That was no easy task, especially those that came from the hospital. We still did not have the nurses’ notes in our hands even after all this time. But, that also was solved today. On Monday, I will meet my brother and make a copy of the records for the lawyer. Where it will go from here is anybody’s guess, but at least we succeeded in turning the wheel just a bit.
So my call to the lawyer prompted some action and prompted me to look at pictures and to do some of my own processing. I guess there will be that. I took a long walk and pondered getting older, and thought about loss, and despair, and change, and hope.
Hope is a funny thing, sometimes it rises up as strong and powerful as the earth itself, and other times it has all of the tensile strength of wet tissue. I guess the trick is to use the strength of hope to power creation and the fragility of hope to ponder creation. Certainly hope, like everything, has its cycle. That is not to say that hope exists independently from us and it is our task to discover and observe it. The quality of hope is something that we launch and like all things that are birthed, it can then take on a life of its own. I suppose it is in this way that we interact with creation and creation interacts with us.