Top photo is of "J", half-brother to our sons born just a few days ago.
Bottom photo is of "L", cousin to our sons born to my brother and his wife just a few days ago.
I'm curious about how exactly the end of life looks for someone with metastatic colorectal cancer.
But as my home hospice care companion and I talked about it yesterday, I realized that the last few days, hours, and moments probably look quite similar to many other scenarios where the patient has a balanced pain and symptom plan.
Lots of sleeping, interspersed with wakeful moments when family and friends are gathered around the bed reminiscing about the good times. Hand holding and hand squeezing, hugs when possible, kisses and free expression of compassion.
All of this is comforting.
What really matters then, after pain management is truly balanced, is struggling to survive, even if only to squeeze in one more family or social milestone. My son, for instance, celebrated his 20th birthday yesterday. That was a milestone I didn't want to miss. And there are others on the horizon.
M. asked me today what the next milestone should be. Our wedding anniversary is coming in early May. That might be a bit of a stretch. On good days, it seems entirely probable that I'll reach it. On bad days, getting to the start of March "madness" seems far more reasonable.
Milestones will always be subjective markers. There's no use arguing about them. But they do have value of motivating oneself to retain health and fitness as much as possible.
In addition to milestones, there are the fortuitous circle of life symbols which can be very motivating for the surviving cancer patient. The two photographs above are great examples of this. Our extended family was blessed recently with the birth of a boy and a girl, reminders that whatever happens with my generation, life will go on.
This too is very comforting.