I am still in North Carolina. Mom appears to be weakening almost daily. Monday morning, my brother's pastor came over yesterday to give her the Anointing of the Sick and a general absolution. He did his best to put everyone at ease, telling lots of funny and comforting stories. I could see Mom smiling while he was here. She enjoyed that.
Almost as soon as Father Jim left, however, Mom began complaining of more pain, and we decided it was time to arrange for her to get stronger pain medicine and more of it. My brother Allen became somewhat frustrated because he had trouble making contact with the doctor and hospice workers to authorize the change. The most wrenching part of this for all of us is to see Mom in pain and be able to do so little about it. Once the new medicine arrived, however, it seemed Mom was able to relax more and get some extended deeper sleep that she desperately needed. The hospice nurse came and evaluated her, and alerted us all that her breathing was becoming shallower and more irregular. According to the hospice folks, this is usually a sign of approaching death, but it's impossible to say exactly when that will come. Last night before my brother Bill and I went back to the motel, I sat with her for a few minutes, and even I noticed the irregular breathing pattern.
I am torn. Of course I want to be with Mom, but it's so emotionally demanding that I can only be in the room for a few minutes at a time. Today I said the Tessera, the set of prayers associated with the Legion of Mary, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet while I was with her. We all have to take frequent breaks and draw strength from simply being together and doing normal family stuff such as reading and watching TV. Last night as we gathered for dinner after a long day, we found ourselves talking about what a great cook Mom was and how she loved to bring the family together for a great meal. Even when she can't be with us physically, Mom is still in our hearts.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.