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Opening Magic Kingdom

Opening Magic Kingdom

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hard Lessons

My mom at our wedding--healthier times.

Faithful readers, I’m taking a time out. . . not from writing and posting, but from writing about Disney.  My heart is heavy with grief and sadness and those are the words coming to the page as writing typically brings me joy and now it is bringing me comfort.

I’ve often joked that there is a “book in me” meaning that someday I would write a book.  The title and front cover are clear in my head as are the opening lines and at least the “foreword.”  Interesting that I would compose the “foreword” before the rest of the book. . . And, while 700 plus blog posts don’t come anywhere near a book, it is a start.  The events of the last few days have propelled the notion of writing a book even farther.

You see, my mom has been very sick for a very long time and her most recent trip to the hospital and ICU will be her last.  He unresponsive, coma like state with no course of treatment is making for the tough decision of pulling her from life support.  I’m ready and so is my brother, but her husband wants to “buy her another day” and prolong the inevitable; hoping for some sort of miracle.  I tried to explain that even a miracle would not improve the quality of life for her as she was already living with various tubes and intravenous feedings in the bedroom of her home in a weakened state the didn’t allow for much movement beyond the confines of her bedroom.

If you knew me beyond the pages of the Williams Family Blog you would discover that I’m a “getter her done” type of person. Problems have solutions, questions have answers, etc.  So hand wringing and sitting vigil in the hospital are not my favorite things to do—I need and want action, movement, progress.  So, I am moving forward by making service arrangements, phoning friends and relatives, while my mom’s husband waits.

So what is next?  The husband, boy and I will make the 200 mile round trip to the hospital sometime this week-end so that they both can say good-bye.  I’m cautious about the potential ramifications of our soon to be 10 year old seeing his grandmother in that state, but because of her final wishes for cremation, this may be his only time to give her one last kiss.  We’ll play it by ear and follow his lead.

My mother’s husband called for another “team meeting” on Monday to make more decisions.  He needs the command of and audience of the doctors and nurses that have been providing her care over the last two weeks.  A decision will be made at this time to remove her from life support.  The team already indicated that once the tubes and ventilation are removed it won’t take long for her to pass as the vent accidently came out one night and her blood oxygen levels fell to 30% almost instantly.  I would like to be there when she passes.  I want to be a steel magnolia and give her strength and permission to go.  Go to a place where there is no pain, no tubes, no sickness. 

Service arrangements are already made for next week and while I have talked to the funeral home via phone twice in the last few days, it will need to be her husband that meets with them today to take care of the rest of the details with me being able to be reached by phone with any questions.  He did ask me if I wanted to speak at the service.  I gave an honest answer, “I don’t know.”  I do know I have words to say in honor of my mom’s generous life and may attempt to write them in this safe space before speaking them aloud.  I also don’t know where my emotions will be and I need to consider my son who will be at the service.  I was honored by the question and realized that my strength is recognized.

What I want is a shirt to wear that says “treat me gently” for the next few days as the turning of life smoothes out my rough edges and raw nerve endings like a rock tumbler.  I so appreciate being able to write as it is cathartic and healing.

A friend and colleague asked me so caringly the other day what I was doing for me and writing was at the top of the list.  Eating right, sleeping, and spending time with my family doing things I love are also on the list.

As I was making the drive home yesterday from the hospital, I phoned some friends.  Both got the details and nuances of the situation.  And while one was plotting and planning gifts, visits, meals, etc. to the other I was able to say that if there was a plan for a gift (not that I was asking for one, but I just know how they are) that I wanted a gift certificate for a massage in lieu of a plant, flower, or collectible.  The friend I was telling this to completely understood and said life would be much simpler if everyone made similar statements.  I also said that I didn’t want anyone to come—to the service—she laughed and said she knew that request was coming, too.  That’s how friends are. . . you know them well enough to predict how they will respond and they know that about you, too.  I am very grateful to have such good friends!

Since the title of my only imagined book is “Hard Lessons” I’ll conclude this post with a lesson learned thus far. 

People make it about them.  (Even me!).  Whatever the “it” is. In this case, my mom’s illness and inevitable death has become the “it” and when people are informed they make it about them.  I heard about medical procedures, knee replacements, general uncomfortable feelings in “situations like this” or not knowing “how one should respond”, when making contact with my mom’s friends and family yesterday.  I just listened and ended up telling them how sorry I was for their troubles and releasing them from any guilt they might have.  Maybe it is the fact that the news, situation, etc. are troubling and some humans aren’t as equipped to handle uncomfortable feelings or situations as others.  Just knowing that is how most people are going to respond to “it” makes for less disappointment or hard feelings.

Teaching and modeling for our son how to respond empathetically is a goal and he is well on his way!


  1. I'm am so sorry... Sending thoughts and prayers to your family.

  2. Sending you prayers for a peaceful transition for every member of your family and for you. Although I never met your mother, I know she raised a wonderful daughter, I can only imagine how special she was. Healing thoughts for troubled hearts!

  3. Carolyn and Dawn,
    Thank you so much! Your kindness and caring are appreciated.