A Bit of Real Life, Global, travel

Life After Alice: Two Weeks

After a long, protracted illness, I lost my mother in mid-July. I was on a plane, asleep, headed for San Francisco when she let go.

Although I’m her only child, health proxy, and power of attorney, I didn’t receive a call from CNR in Brooklyn, or Kings County, where she was taken for cardiac arrest. I never heard from Brooklyn Hospital about her transfer to CNR, a nursing facility I had no experience with. And I never got a thorough answer from Hospice of New York, who, despite saying she only had a few months left, abruptly decided she was no longer a candidate for their services. Lots of talk about Medicare, Medicaid: the usual bureaucratic two-step.

When I heard about her transition–via a voicemail from the funeral home sending its condolences, then through a reverend at my church–I was jet lagged but comfy at my college friend’s gorgeous ranch home in Oakland. I’d been to LA once in my 20s and was unimpressed. But Oakland was different. The “Brooklyn of the West,” it’s called. I felt that immediately, that sense that I belonged.

I cried quietly, curled up on the sofa. My only thought was that at last, her suffering was over. Eight years of suffering, first from depression, and later, depression-fueled refusal to address compounding health concerns. My girlfriends–who’ve known me on some level since I was 18–wanted to know what I wanted to do. Within five minutes I said, “I’m here. Let’s try to have a normal day.”