My mother is very ill. I have watched her become weaker and slower these last few weeks but I did not appreciate until a few days ago just how sick she is. She has twice struggled with breast cancer and it’s consequences over the years but now she has disease spread to many new places. I am the one closest geographically to my mother and so many of the things that “have to be done” or “put in place” fall to me. If you have ever had to do all of the many busy things that need to be done when a close relative is nearing death then you will appreciate what life is like for me just now. If this is an experience that you have not had, then suffice it to say that there is a lot to do. There are documents to be searched for and bankers to speak with. There are accountants to ask questions of and lawyers to bother. There are forms to find and fill out and questions I feel I ought to know the answers to along the way. There are funeral directors to visit and cemeteries to be contacted. There are plans to be made and reorganization to undertake. There are lists upon lists and more lists to get through after that. There are physicians to be consulted and informed, nurses to be related to and administrators to make sure all of the wishes and necessary information is up to date. And of course there is the sick person to care for and worry about. It occurred to me as I did my duty and found myself caught in the frenzy of details, lists and paperwork, that I really hadn’t taken much time at all to consider the physical or emotional or long-term reality of my situation. I have been so busy researching and searching, looking and doing, asking and collecting that I really haven’t had much time to consider anything else. In a way, I have been on a kind of scavenger hunt the last few days. It’s all been about getting through endless lists and doing all the “necessary things.” There have been a few times when I have stopped long enough to look beyond the busy to what all this is really about. My mother is dying and I am consumed with details. At first I thought it was cruel. How can I possibly spend so much time chasing papers, details and answers while my mother is sick and closing in on death? How can I ignore the reality of my emotions and the fact that my mother will soon be gone? Then I thought maybe society has something else in mind here. Maybe in it’s dot the i’s and cross the t’s way all the social, administrative and governmental rules are really in place to help me focus, at least just now, on everything but the difficult reality of death and all that comes with it. That probably gives way too much credit to our institutions, but just now I am far to busy and focused on details and documents, on protocol, and papers to really get what’s happening to her or to me.