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We didn’t go to Duke today after all. Last night, we had a convening of the family – I always feel stronger after one of those. Jennifer, Tom and I pulled into the driveway, and M&T were there. I had mixed feelings – part of me was really touched that they wanted to reach out to Mama, and part of me just wanted them to leave so I would be just our core family unit. They both hugged me and told me that they loved me. Apparently Bobby had called Tim and told him about the O’Rourke visit. It was a little disheveled until about 10pm – M&T were there with Emma, who’s too cute but I just didn’t feel like playing with her yesterday, and we brought pizza in but not enough for M&T as well. So then there’s the whole trying to figure out how to get more pizza to Townville – Bobby’s not answering his phone, and Daddy’s just in a state of frantic, pointless activity. Daddy keeps calling – he’s been gone for 6 hrs, and still hasn’t done the errands that he left to do – nobody knows really what’s he’s doing, except that he’s wandering around aimlessly. And he’s annoyed every time he calls – wants to know if there’s a Little Caesar’s in Clemson, then wants to know where Dan’s body shop is located even though he’s been there multiple times, and wants to know whether Mama’s called Virginia, and whether Ms Linda has come over yet, and if someone will check the oil in the van and take it to 85 to gas it up… and every one of these topics were a different phone call that lasted no more than 3 minutes. It was exhausting. So then Ms Linda comes over and that adds another personality to the mix – and M&T leave. Finally, about 10pm, Daddy comes home, Ms Linda leaves, and we all sit down together and regroup. We hashed over the exact words of Dr. O’Rourke – he said that Mama has probably 6 “good” months left, that he recommends that we go ahead and have a Hospice home study done and let them move the hospital bed in to make it easier in the next couple of months, and that her LDH level – which has jumped from 600-something to 2085 – indicates that her liver tissue is “breaking down.” So we talked through it – Bobby pointed out that we need to have an action plan before going off to Duke half-cocked. Tom said that Mama needs to figure out what her optimal treatment plan is and communicate it to us, and we’ll make it happen. Jennifer said that O’Rourke is a rhino – he’s programmed, and then he charges at the target with very little thought or peripheral vision. So we voted him off the island – we’re officially firing him. I feel no remorse whatsoever – I told Mama that she should probably write him a little thank you note, and then let’s move on. I need to call Duke today to try to make an appt for next week. I really, really want Mama to get another PET scan.

And of course the entire family’s reacting very irreverently. Once we got over the initial shock, the Hospice jokes were flying thick and fast. When Susanna mentioned that she needs help moving into her dorm this weekend, someone suggested that she ask Hospice to help. There were also suggestions that Hospice could clean the house, wash the car, and drive Mama around to do her errands. It really isn’t a laughing matter, but when have we ever not laughed about something that’s so, so completely un-funny. Honestly, I’m trying not to think about it long-term – I’m only focusing on a week or so at a time because that about the largest chunk that I can handle. I told Bobby last night that I’m really, really going to try not to start thinking about everything in terms of “the last time” – this might be our last Christmas, Mama’s last birthday, the last grandbaby, the last Thanksgiving, the last New Year’s, my last birthday – that Mama will be here. I told Bobby that my goal is to just do my best – to see Mama at least twice a week, to make sure that she knows that I love her everyday, and that if she does leave one day, I don’t have any regrets about our relationship. So that’s my goal. It’s hard not to think about 6 months… but I’m going to really, really try not to. Just take one day at a time, one week at a time, and adjust accordingly.