Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Surprises have never been my favorite thing

Growing up with a schizophrenic mother provided lots of surprises. I've always hated surprises. I felt sideswiped and caught off guard. Surprises were things that came with fatigue in the middle of the night or a grounding from some imagined behavior or friends not allowed to play anymore.

She gave me the gift of my baby book about 15 years ago. I was really excited because I didn't know it existed. It hadn't. She'd written all her information in it. Nothing about me. She didn't seem to know I was a separate person. Trust me, contrary to the baby book, orange is not my favorite color. I came home from a six week visit at my dad's to find she'd surprised me by painting all my pretty white wall decorations...orange. My yellow and white room that I'd just finished decorating was yellow and orange. Her whole house was orange.

I hate surprises so much that I research every angle to be prepared. (People think I'm organized, lol. I just don't want to be sideswiped. One of the side effects of being a child of a schizophrenic.) Let's put it this way, my love language is not gifts because they surprise me and I don't handle surprise well.

One I didn't expect was the rush of emotion I felt on Christmas Eve. Mom's seriously swollen from the waist down. Her legs were so heavy and hard they felt like bowling balls. Mom is sitting in a wheel chair and I have to transfer her in and out of the car. Her weight has been around 140ish. Not usually a problem. My separated rib didn't make it any easier when I almost fell from the extra heaviness of fluid retention. A lot of fluid retention.

She couldn't speak coherently. Words came out garbled. My son, Devan, watched her through watery compassion as she unwrapped and wrapped her gifts several times. He'd look to me and hold my gaze. I'm so grateful that all my children are wonderful and gently patient with their grandmother.

How's this for dense? I had no idea the swelling meant her kidneys and liver are shutting down, the confusion is from lack of pumping blood, and it all equals congestive heart failure. Surprise.

The last two days I've spent talking (and crying) with my husband about what to do. I knew I had to plan her funeral. I knew I had to get all the team set up for the brain donation. I thought I had months to years to get it done. Now I find it may be days to months. I've been expecting this time. But still, I've been on a rollercoaster. Why? I am really asking why. I've thought she would go anytime for the last several years. So why am I feeling all this emotion now?

Mom and I have had such an outrageous life. When I was twelve, we ran from the CIA in the middle of the night. Yes, we really ran through the night to escape. No, there was no one chasing us. Mom thought there were CIA with guns surrounding my grandparent's house. She'd escaped from Colorado General by stealing a truck that day and hidden in their basement. She imagined problems with every boss she ever had and every pastor. For years I wanted to get off Space Mountain and walk on level ground.

Today I stood in the funeral home asking questions. I have an appointment on Thursday to get answers. They said that the funeral home even has a place to handle the donation process. Okay. Now I have to find a willing pathologist for the time to come. I wonder how hard that will be? I'm so tired. I'll try tomorrow.

I sat in the parking lot afterwards for a long time trying to decipher the packet of prices. It took a long time. I couldn't understand what I was reading. That's actually weird for me. According to testing when I was young, I'm supposed to be pretty smart. Reading and writing is supposedly my forte'. Not today. No, not today.

What process do you think you have forever to do? What would change it and make it an immediate need? Should you make time now so you aren't sideswiped later?

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