In December 2015, after months of debilitating and agonizing pain, my mother broke her hip. We later found out it was because her lung cancer had returned and metastasized to her bones. I spent last Christmas screaming at hospital administrators and doctors to have her broken hip and damage bone replaced.
January 2016, my mother was placed in a nursing home following her hip surgery for rehabilitation. The cat came to live with me.
On January 16, 2016, I went to visit my mother at the nursing home and unknowingly took the last picture I'd ever take with her.
Two days later she had a stroke in the middle of the night and stopped breathing. I received a callous phone call from the nursing home letting me know which hospital she as "probably" taken to. I went there the next morning to find her unresponsive and on a ventilator. I signed DNR and next of kin paperwork.
I spent the next two weeks in a clueless haze where doctors told me nothing other than my mother needed surgery for a feeding tube to be put in her stomach because the one in her nose was only temporary. She was sedated and catatonic and had to wear mittens so she wouldn't pull it out. And so I touched her hair and held her gloved hands and told her I loved her when we made eye contact even though I wasn't sure she understood.
Eventually I made the decision to allow my mother to die with what dignity she could. So the words "palliative care" and "hospice" flooded my Internet search history because nobody at the hospital was telling me anything, giving me information, or helping. And three weeks after she had the stroke, she was moved to a hospice facility for cancer patients.
Two days later on Friday, February 19, 2016 my mother died. I spent the following week scraping money together and scrambling to make cremation arrangements.
And when I made it through the worst winter of my life to the first day of spring on March 30, 2016, I got tattooed because I so desperately needed to be reminded that my world wasn't over.
"The future is inherently a good thing, and we move into it one winter at a time."
I lost the only family member I was close to, survived my worst nightmare, and learned that death is a process and grief is strange. But I made it through winter.