Saturday, September 06, 2008

An impending tragedy

Here I am at home on a Saturday morning with the girls... but no Ben. This is because he took a train with his mother yesterday afternoon to Delaware, where G's sister Priscilla is dying of cancer. A couple of weeks ago, Priscilla was feeling tired and vaguely ill, so she went to the doctor, who did some routine blood work and found that something was wrong with her liver, so he sent her to the hospital for more tests... which revealed cancer throughout her liver. The doctors suspected that it has spread from another site in her abdomen, so they did an endoscopy and found a large mass in her stomach. The cancer was deemed inoperable, and she was also too weak or too far along to benefit from chemotherapy. Now we're up to Tuesday (four days ago). The prognosis was three to four weeks and hospice was called in. So now Ben had to decide what to tell his mother (who's close to her sister) and when. The staff at her Alzherimer's place were in two camps. One guy thought G. should be told and taken down to see Preiscilla before her death. Others thought it would be better if she weren't told anything until her sister died, then told that the death was sudden and unexpected. Ben was still undecided untnil yesterday, when his cousin called again to tell him that his mother's liver was failling and the time left was even shorter than they originally thought. So Ben left work, picked up his mother and got on board a train for Delaware.

His mother, as expected, is having a hard time absorbing what's happening (especially how fast it's happening) and initially had a theory that Priscilla was poisoned. This evidence of continued mental dertioration in his mom is obviously hard on Ben, on top of grieving his aun't impending death. Priscilla and her husband are in some ways the glue of the extended family, since they host a big Thanksgiving gathering most years, and everyone gets along with them (which you can't say about quite a few members of the clan).

More in a day or two...

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