One of my very favorite things about Facebook is the “Facebook Memories” that pop up each morning with the posts and pictures you put up on this day in years past. Usually, I look at them with a gentle smile or a happy tear of how much my kids have grown over the years. But, today, when I saw the memories of past May 6, it was painful. Facebook reminded me that May 6 was a hard day in 2015, 2016, 2017- each year Gran was in the hospital and I was staring death in the face bearing the sole responsibility of making the decision to fight for her life or let her go. I was questioning why in the world God would put me in that place over and over.
So many times over the three years that we were responsible for Gran’s care I remember thinking God, I cannot do this another day. I cannot clean poop up out of the floor, I cannot change and bathe a grown woman, I cannot listen to her tell me how awful I am, I cannot watch her hurt my children- I simply cannot do this one more day. Yet, each time when we were faced with the decision to continue medical care, I continued medical care. And, God gave us the strength to do it one more day. Until last year. Gran went into the hospital on April 19 and as situations progressed we moved her to Hospice on April 25. I felt like a complete and total failure. I felt like I was giving up on her. I felt like I was the one making the decision to let her die, as moving her to hospice was certainly the end. But, I also remember sitting in a conference room crying my heart out to the palliative care doctors saying I didn’t have anything left in me. I could not possibly bring her back into my home. I was exhausted, my husband was exhausted, and my kids were spent. Dementia had taken her brain, heart disease and diabetes had taken her health, and now a stroke had taken her sight and likely ability to walk. Knowing all of this in my head didn’t change the agony in my heart that I was quitting on her. In a way I think those were thoughts brought on by the last 3 years of thinking in the moments mom was sick and dying, that I should have demanded she be transferred to a heart focused hospital in Nashville, that if we could have just gotten her here they could have done something to save her. Maybe, I should have demanded they put her on life support and give her body time to heal from the infection, but we just let her go.
Now, I know these are all crazy thoughts, but the emotion surrounding May always brings me to a place of did I do enough? Did I finish well? I don’t know if I will ever not feel regret about how I cared for Gran in her final days. I don’t even know why I have these thoughts. I guess it is just the fact that we live in a fallen world and Satan will use every foothold he can get into our hearts to make us doubt that God is good and His plan is perfect. So, today, as I look at May 6, I’m part sad that it brings back memories of really hard times. Part of me feels glad that this May 6 brings sunshine, church, a special afternoon with my little man, a sense of peace and gladness of what God has brought us in this last year. And, honestly, a part of me feels guilt- guilt because I’m thankful our whole family is no longer suffering with the burden dementia brought to our lives.
I don’t really know the purpose of this post other than just to confess that the emotions are still raw, the memories are still hard. It’s been over 4 years since mom died, and just a couple days shy of being a year since Gran died and I still question every decision we made over those years. But, the one thing I do not question is the faithfulness of my God who provided us just enough grace and just enough support to make it to the next day.