That Matter Of Life Or Death

My mother-in-law is asleep across the hall and has been since 10pm last night. She has we believe increasingly advanced cancer (tomorrow she has a major video discussion with her doctor about the results of a scan we took her to back on Friday afternoon) and… well, there’s no need for endless details here. You probably get the picture: it is an ugly situation.

[Photo by me, August 23, 2021.]

We are I think reaching the point that we do not know if in a morning we will find her dead in her bed. This is one of those terrible life and death moments we may all face. She had a bad day yesterday and because of that, so she does not wake up “alone” this morning, rather than being in the kitchen eating alongside my wife I am across the hall from the guestroom, in my office, just feet away from where she is sleeping, having my coffee and breakfast – because the moment she stirs I will hear her. (My wife is downstairs about to start her work-from-home day in our dining room – we can’t really trade places because she has to Zoom talk and make noise, while I only nearly silently tap a keyboard. So this arrangement works best. She can be up the stairs in seconds.)

Presumably – and we hope – today will not be THE last day. But every morning, every day now, I suspect, could be that day. We brace ourselves so we are not shocked.

I can’t help but think too that I am living through – again to an extent – what I endured with my own mother in October 2015 over in Pennsylvania. We had then waited, and watched, and waited… always knowing the end was never in doubt; it was only a matter of WHEN it would arrive. I hate this. We all hate this, of course. Once in my life, I had felt, was more than enough.

In these situations, we try to think of everything else until we have to think about THAT. So I will write some more. It is, for me, one useful way at least to distract my mind…

…and just as I was about to click “publish” here having finished the sentence above, she awoke and was looking around the doorway at me. And she is okay. For now at least.

For another day.


  1. Good luck to you and your family, that everything will go as it should and peacefully. I lost my father-in-law two months ago to ALS. The waiting is hard for sure.

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