Yesterday, not 48 hours after scheduling our initial hospice visit for my mom, she did the unthinkable: she had a great day!! The best in 2 months… at least. The false-hope-screaming-kind-of good day. She said at least 20 complete, intelligible sentences, some 19.5 more than she has said the last 2 months. At one point, while I was singing Gospel music along with Alan Jackson and mom and the Sweet 17, mom looked over at me singing and, once we made eye contact, she booed loudly at me and my singing!!! She then belly laughed at the look at my shocked face at her critique. Never in my life have I been insulted in such a way that brought me so much joy. Hence the strange paradox as I hugged her and left and cried all the way home.
How do I deal with happy when it is supposed to be sad and sad when it is supposed to be happy? I am comfortable with the concept regarding heaven…but not singing! Sigh… Shouldn’t “improvement” make me happy? Shouldn’t “good news” feel good? If that kind of joy’s feeling is correct, I don’t like joy any more.
It eerily reminds me of mom’s mom, my beloved Green Grandma. Grandma was nearing the end of her life over a decade ago and, very similarly, we called hospice. We thought they may be helpful for her and could even upgrade her wheelchair. The doctor suggested the service so we figured it was a done deal…until she was rejected for hospice. She was doing too well. Should we be joyous that she was not as bad as we thought?? She promptly passed away less than a week later, so apparently stinkin’ not. Today we rejoice that she is happy and perhaps burning rubber in heaven!…but at the time it was a paradox that was devastating to process.
Flash forward 2 or 3 presidents and now mom could use a better wheelchair and was referred to hospice. The hospice folks visited and screened mom a couple days ago. Our formal family meeting with them is tomorrow morning, but my sister (and I feel the same way) needed to know whether she was going to be approved so she called them today. They confirmed that mom was accepted. Sad news? Happy news? What should be happy is sad and what should be sad is happy way too much in this condition’s web. Will she be approved and, just the opposite of my grandma, beat the odds and live a year? Could be! She could also die tomorrow…after all, she has fallen a lot lately. Should we be happy if she gets worse but holds on…for years…and is miserable?
Hence the paradox of joy….and the guilt of withholding it.
Hence, Alzheimer’s…and death sucks. It may have no eternal sting, but it still sucks.