A Walk with Mom: Day 13

I don’t normally post personal things, but this is different. It is with a heavy heart that I say that my mother, Genny Burch, is very, very sick and is not expected to make it. We will learn more from doctors either this afternoon or tomorrow. I don’t even know how to write this post. The staff at Southeast Alabama Medical Center have been wonderful, extremely compassionate and given her exceptional care. My father, James Burch, is being very brave, but is no doubt hurting. My closest sister in age, R, has decided to leave the situation and has no interest in participating, so it will be my father and me. I have no idea how to do this and am terrified. I don’t know how to do this. Please, please say prayers for us. Please pray that Mom has a peaceful passing, pray that my father be given strength and comfort, and please that I may have wisdom and courage as I make these decisions with my father. Most of all, please pray for a miracle. She has lived a very full life, been a wonderful mother, an amazing grandmother and even raised 65 foster children, She has truly made a difference in this world in so many ways. And if you have any wisdom or advice, please let me know, I need support and love. Thank you.

Sunday July 10, 2016

This was one of the hardest days of my life for many reasons.  It was the day I truly found out that Mom was not going to make it.

Mom had been getting weaker and weaker and was having trouble sitting up by herself. We had been trying to figure out any way to save her. But she wasn’t responding.  She was on 100% oxygen since we had found out she had sever COPD that had not been diagnosed.  Her pneumonia was getting worse and they still could not find the source of another infection they had identified.

They had run every test on her possible.  They had given her x-rays, MRI’s, sonograms, every blood test possible for everything they could think of. She was just so weak. And what they could do was extremely limited because of her sever malnutrition. They could not operate at all because she would not survive being put under. They could not do any more tests because the only ones they had not done would be invasive, and she would not live through it.  They just kept saying, if she weighed more, there would be a lot more options.

By now she had not eaten on 4 days and had probably lost another 7 pounds or so. She was still smiling, but she was getting weaker.  I remember her sitting up and she looked at me and said “I know I brought this on myself from not eating, but I just didn’t think getting better would be this…hard.” It broke my heart.

We had talked to the doctors and decided that maybe, maybe the next day she would pull out of it, but that more than likely she would not.  Palliative Care came down and talked to me. Joanne said that we have to face the fact that miracles happen, but more than likely Mom was going to pass. That her body was so weak and it seemed that her immune system was failing.  They would watch her and continue to give her fluids and antibiotics. The next day would determine it, but to understand that most people who were in the hospital for more than a week with pneumonia didn’t make it. We needed to start thinking about what she might want.

Mom was just getting more and more weak.

I called my boyfriend sobbing. My heart was breaking and I didn’t know what to do.  He was very compassionate and reassuring. He tried to help but that is a heartache that cannot be helped. I called my best friend and cried to her.  How do you prepare to loose your Mom, your best friend.  She had lost her Mom, and so she talked about it in a way we had never talked before.

After the conversation with the doctors that Mom was dying and to pray for a miracle in the next day, my sister decided to leave. She announced that she had to get back to work.  She did not have nay more time off and she did not want to loose her job.  She she was leaving.

I just looked at her. “What? You can’t leave. They told us that Mom is dying, she only had a day or tow left.  Mom is dying. You can’t leave,” I said. I could feel the panic and emotion rising up from the tip of my toes to my head, I could feel it coming is waves. I felt sick and dizzy.

“I need to get back to work. I am leaving, I am not staying.  I have no more time off, and they will fire me,” She said again very matter-of-factly.  “They will give you time off if you tell them Mom is dying. You will not get fired for that. You can;t leave, please stay. I can’t do this by myself. I need you here, you are my big sister. Mom needs you here and so does Dad.  We need to be here as a family for Mom. Please don’t leave me, I am not strong enough to do this without you. Please stay for Mom, she needs to say goodbye too,” I desperately pleaded.


And then I did something I never thought I would do. I fought back and fought hard.  I pulled a dirty trick to get her to stay. I looked at her and defiantly said “I am not going to let you leave me to handle all of this,  You are part of this family too and you need be a part of this.  I will not let you do this. So I am going to beat you to do. I am taking my stuff and I am leaving – going back to Atlanta.  You can handle the rest of this.  And if you want to leave, then YOU are going to have to be the one to tell Dad that YOU and leaving him alone to deal with Mom dying. YOU are going to have to be the one to leave him alone, and scared, if you decide to leave!”

I packed my things and gave Mom a long tight hug.  I whispered to her that I was not really leaving, I would be in the parking lot waiting for Rita to stay. I would be back in a few hours. That was the last hug she gave me.

I left and went to the parking lot and sobbed.  I didn’t know how to do this alone. I didn’t know how to do this if my sister left.  I went to the Waffle House across the street for the first meal in in tow days.  I silently cried as I tried to eat.  I could see the window of Mom’s hospital room from the Waffle.

I was devastated. There are no words to describe the devastation, fear, sadness, terror of those moments.  I went back to my car, called family and friends to tell them the news.  I called my boyfriend to cry and tell him. Called my best friend who had helped me so much, let me vent and gave me incredible medical advice that helped me navigate and make good decisions when I had no clue.  I was falling apart. My heart was breaking and I my head spinning.

After some time I called Dad to see how things were and if my sister had decided to stay. He said yes, he was staying and that they were good. I came back and told him later that I was just in the parking lot, I never and would never, leave them during this time.

My best friend K called and said that she wanted to come down, to see Mom and say goodbye. A few hours later she was there talking to Mom, holding her hand and saying how much she loved her.  Her Mom and my Mom were best friends until her Mom passed away 3 years earlier. It truly broke my mother’s heart to say goodbye to her best friend.  And now my best friend was saying goodbye to my mother. And Mom truly loved her like a daughter.

Mom was weak but tried her best.  She was always proud and wanted to seem as well as possible to others. She talked for a while but then grew too tired and drifted off to sleep. K took pictures of me with Mom, took pictures of my holding Mom’s hand.  We then let and spent the night over at the family compound leaving my sister and Dad to take care of Mom.  She was sleeping almost all the time now, so it was an easy night for them.

I cried a lot at the family home with K.  We talked of her Mom and mine. of old times and the things they would say to us.  That night I tried to sleep but had terrible nightmares again.  How do you sleep when your heart is breaking?



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