Two months and one day after we got the news she had cancer.
Tom called this Tuesday night to tell me the doctors were going to talk to all of us yesterday morning and wanted me to be ready for a call.
I've been at our Assemblies of God General Council all week in Orlando. Our church staff is staying together at a condo here. I made arrangements to stay back on Wednesday morning for the phone call so I could take it in private away from the crowds. (There are an estimated 20,000 some people or more, here for the bi-annual council.)
Tom called and I was sitting here on the balcony, listening...
Reality Strikes Suddenly
He says, "Deanna, I'm sorry. It's not good. She's being transferred to hospice today. She is not mending at all to be strong enough to start chemo or radiation. Her liver, what's left of it, is not functioning...it is failing.
I ask how Judy is taking the news.
I comfort him.
I ask about my sister.
And my brother.
Judy is accepting of things, as Tom thinks she "knew all along."
He is as well as can be expected, given the news.
My sister is beside herself.
My brother is making arrangements to come. He is quiet, always quiet.
A cup of comfort
Tom wants me to call later in the afternoon to talk to my mother and sister.
I don’t know what to expect. The last phone call on July 1 was so absolutely horrible I have only been communicating with her with her in writing. . I still talk to Tom often. But this day would be my first day to talk to them in a while. Tom says he will be there for the conversation. We set the time for 4 pm.
I am so nervous for the call.
I do what I typically do.
What I am trying so hard to break myself from doing.
And what I fail at on most days.
I make a cup of dark hot chocolate and get two cookies.
I dial the number of her room. The phone rings and my heart is beating wildly.
Just took a nibble of cookie, feeling the candy melt on my tongue.
My sister answers the phone. I hear excitement in her voice that I am on the phone...excitement mixed with grief as strange as it is. It's good to hear my sister so happy to hear my voice. Tears rolls down my face to even type that right now.
We talk for but a moment and then she says, “Mom, mom..... it’s Deanna on the phone. I’m going to put the phone up to your ear.”
I say hi and she says nothing.
I am wondering why.
She's not a quiet person at all by nature.
I am thinking maybe she is reluctant to speak to me.
But that’s not the case. She simply can’t speak.
She breathes very heavily into the phone. Gasping for air.
“I love you…” I say.
“I’m praying for you…” I say.
Over and over I say these two things.
Breathing. All I hear is heavy breathing, labored gasps.
Finally she softly whispers, “Yes.”
My sister takes the phone from her and comes back on to talk to me. She asks me to call her on her cell where she can talk, out of the room in private.
She lets me know, the transfer to hospice will be in a few hours.
We talk about all the arrangements, my brother coming, me coming. I’m thinking it will be within the next week that I come – trying to get everything together to do so, knowing I won't be coming back for a while.
I call Tom late last night, mostly just to hear his voice.
I knew he wouldn't be asleep.
I stand on the same balcony where I had the first conversation with him, this time looking out into the night sky as we talk.
We cry and we laugh and we cry again.
He can’t wait til’ I get there, even though I’m arriving for tragic reasons.
He has to tell me a funny story before we hang up, because that’s Tom.
He tells me about how he just rented this car, an orange Dodge Challenger, and took it for a spin and went crazy fast out on the open highway. "I'm having a late life crisis," he says. We laugh our butts off and then I said, "Tom, in all seriousness, I need you here. Don't do that again."
Tom tells me that often before bedtime Judy will say, “Tell me a story,” so she can go to sleep. Tom’s such a good storyteller. I don’t tell him so but there are times I’ve done the same with Larry. I don't bring it up because I sense I'll fall apart if I talk about the ways my mother and I are alike.
I woke up to a text from my sister. Things took a sharp turn in the night.
Hospice says it will be soon.
Come as soon as I can.
It is urgent.
I'm flying out of Orlando now.
I’ll be there for a while, once I get there.
I don't know when I'll be coming back home to Tampa.
I'll miss you...
For my adoptee and first mother friends who I was so very excited to meet at the Adoptee Rights Demonstration in Atlanta this weekend…obviously you have figured out by now that I won’t be there. It’s a huge disappointment for me to have to wait another whole year to see you in Minneapolis. But what I write about here at Adoptee Restoration is, among other things, just how profoundly we are impacted by the loss of our first family. The importance of restoring those family ties, and all that they mean to us.
I must go to my mother...to my family.
I usually blog here faithfully Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I won’t be on a strict schedule right now, but I will post randomly. Writing is the way I process, heal, connect. So I'll be here in these coming days-- you just never know when I'll show up.
Thanks for your prayers.
I love you all. Thank you for praying for Judy, for me…for us.
She is still worthy of being found.
p.s. If you have never read my story, I invite you to. It will bring you up to speed on why all of this is so desperately important to me. xo