My mother went to hospice for ovarian cancer. She had blocked intestines, so she couldn't eat. The surgeon took her to the operating room to put in a feeding tube.
"I can't." he said, "There is too much tumor." Tumor bleeds, you see.
I called and asked if she could be fed intravenously for a little.
"She could, but she would die faster." said the surgeon. "When it gets big, the tumor takes all of the nutrition. Anything she eats goes to it."
My sister and I cried when I told her. We only cried for a couple minutes and she did not cry. Then we took her home to hospice. We continued morphine and intravenous fluids until she said stop the fluid. She held court for 6 weeks while she starved.
We did not cry. Her doctor came to visit and cried. Afterwards my mother said, "I did not appreciate that." She would wake up and tell us, "I am ready to be entertained." She did not want us to cry and we didn't.
After she died, I thought, "I wish she had let me cry." I did the reevaluation one does after a parent's death. What do I want to do like her? What do I want to do differently?
Sharon Salzberg, in Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness, writes about lovingkindness meditation. You are to direct it at yourself first. Then at a mentor, a friend, a neutral party, an enemy and all beings.
She writes about her teacher asking her if she were with 4 people and a bandit said he was going to kill one, who would she choose? A mentor, a friend, a neutral party, an enemy? She thought about it, and said, "I can't choose." "Not yourself?" said her teacher. "No," she said.
When Grundoon was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wrote a story about Tyrannacancer. Tyrannacancer said, "Now you have to do what she says." "No!" I said, "My sister wants me to be real!"
That was my thought after my mother died. That her wishes were important. But that ours and mine were too. That if I only did what she said, out of love for her, where was I in the relationship?
With Grundoon I tried to balance. I wanted our relationship to be real. That meant that we disagreed sometimes. And on big things.
Now that she is dead, I am still receiving pressure to talk only of my sister's angelic side. Why is this? Does my sister have to have been perfect to be loved?
It's only from some people. It has been two years since she died and I've waited. I'm letting go of the old friends who only will let me talk about the angel side. Or won't talk to me at all because they think I'm evil. I will miss them, but I want to be real. They have the right to see her as they wish. I'm the one who can't stand it and who is breaking the cultural taboo. I want to remember my real sister, my whole sister, virtues and faults.
It is risky to be genuine, isn't it? But isn't that what we all want, is to be genuine and to be loved? To be loved anyway?