Editor's note: This column was written by Cathy Shaffer, the second of Edna's four daughters, all of whom are taking turns caring for Edna as she recuperates from surgery. Cathy is a registered nurse from New York. Edna expects to be writing her column again in April.
How do we measure the sum of our days? We spend hours not noticing the miles between, the spaces grown, the aging face. Society demands busy-ness of us all, and stress so often pulls us from our own priorities and realities. And then, a phone call, a conversation, a knock at the door, a doctor report can stop it all on a dime. And we are faced with the possibility of no more time.
We wonder, what did I do with everything in between?
As I wandered the halls of University of Michigan Hospital on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 25, our mother fluttered into a drug-induced sleep to undergo the most dramatic surgery of her life. She knew all the risks, the potential complications, the options. She also knew there was no choice but to try and remove the tumor and newly discovered cancer detected in her bladder.
Irony of lifestyle confounded her daughters, as we thought about her life. Mom has never smoked, and has been a proactive person in her own decisions about healthy choices and positive thinking.
She, her four daughters and her circle of support ventured through days of uncertainty. We sat, looking into the bottom of our coffee cups, smoothing out our skirts and shifting in our chairs, as we waited for the pathology report.
We now have hope that we have more time and a future together.
Mom, in her typical indomitable spirit, continued through her unknown days with humor and kindness. Nurses perched in her room, like migrating birds finding spring. Doctors, physical therapists and housekeeping staff alike were cheered by her stoicism.