Monday, October 20, 2008

Battling Demons in my Mind

Doubts, and fears, and demons in your mind are a part of grieving. They will subside with time. Knowing that doesn't make it any easier to deal with them and the pain they bring.

Days are pretty good, mostly. The worst time is evening when I would tuck Margret into bed, give her a hug and a kiss and talk about what we had planned for the next day.

In the daytime, I am not bothered by doubts about what I did and did not do while Margret was at the hospital. I did my best. I acknowledge that I am only human, and not infallible. But when I close my eyes for sleep, some contrary part of my mind throws up images from those days, and asks me, "Are you sure? Are you really sure? Might it have been better if...?"

One of the images is walking back into Margret's room into a flurry of masked and gowned activity, and seeing Margret in bed, with a nosebleed, looking absolutely terrified, the flow of the oxygen around the nasal cannula making drops of blood fly. I went right to her, ducking around and under busy people, took her hand, told her "Mommy's here!" and comforted her as best I could. When I had gone off for breakfast, all was quiet. That contrary part of my mind thinks I should have been in her room holding her hand at the start of the nosebleed, comforting her.

I know perfectly well that I had to take care of myself, eat, sleep, take breaks, or I would be no good to Margret. No blame attaches to me... for any of it... but that insidious little part asks if I really needed to talk so long on the cel after eating? Would I have made a difference if I had been back sooner? Would Margret have been less terrified? I don't know. What happened, happened. I have to learn to live with it, and not pick myself apart over things I cannot change.

Another image, one I've come to terms with, is Margret's wide eyes above the nasal pillow mask, and her saying, "Please let me go!" I asked her where she wanted to go, and she answered, "I want to go home." I responded by saying we would go home when she was better. It struck me at the time that she wanted to die and go to heaven, but I didn't want to be hearing that. Later the same day she said, "I want to go," and when I asked "where?" she pointed towards the ceiling and said, "Up" Would it have been better to let her go right then? No. the doctors were hoping a few more days would allow the virus to burn out and let her body begin to heal. No family were there right then but she and I, and C, for one, would be seriously unhappy not to be present. During the day, awake, I could accept my decisions and the way events played out. In the dark of the nights, asleep, the accusing demons in my mind threw this one up again and again, and would not let me go.

The final time, I got up, weeping, went and sat in Margret's bedroom, on the edge of her bed, and talked to her as if it were bedtime and we were chatting as I tucked her in. I said I was sorry she had to be so uncomfortable, but wasn't she glad to have seen D again? and to have held the new baby? I told her that D would have been devastated to miss seeing her alive one last time. D has regrets already, she doesn't need any more. I said, "Please understand that I was afraid. For both of us. I wasn't ready to let you go." Then I went back to bed, and fell asleep, with no more scary images that night.

Margret wanted a hot pink robe she saw in the Bath & Bodyworks Catalog last Christmas, and my husband bought it for her. She offered "I'll share it with you, Mom" and I think I'll take her up on that offer now. Snuggling into the robe reminds me of her generosity, her warmth, her thoughtfulness. Happy memories, weapons to slay the demons in my mind.


Michelle said...

I just came across your blog and I have tears in my eyes after reading this first post. When I have some time I'm going to read through your blog and your story.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your daughter.

femail doc said...

I can just picture that warm soft robe and you wrapped in memories. I hope the nights hold increasing peace for you; we do the best we can, and you did beautifully.

Ann of the Incredible Gift said...

Thank you, Michelle, I miss her a lot, and will for a long time to come.

femail doc: I love your image, I am "wrapped in memories" in truth. Once I get to sleep, I am sleeping much better than I did. Although I did my best, I am usually the last one convinced that my best was good enough; thank you for your vote of confidence.