A Walk with Mom: Conclusion

No one is every prepared to loose their parents, even though it is the natural process of life.  We will all loose our parents, we will all feel that grief, we will all share in that story.  And even though it is something that we will all go through, the story and relationships and grief are all different.  This has been mine.

Thank you for going through this journey with me, throughout this year and in this series.  I had not been able to sit down and write about what happened until now.  With taking care of Dad full time, working full time, trying to handle a relationship, and then the break up of the relationship and Dad’s death…it’s been a busy year where I felt like I had lost everything.

But the fact is that I haven’t.  The fact is that my parents loved me enough for a lifetime.  My parents loved me enough to teach me and give me to tolls needed to love a wonderful life, even if it is without them.  And that is their gift to me.

And it is in writing this that I am able to let go. It has been a hard year, but it is time to let go of the sadness, the loneliness, the grief.  It is still a process, but with this series, with this anniversary, I move forward, like they would want, like I want. I have wonderful friends who are my heart and soul and family. I have blood family who loves me and will always be there. And so it is with this, and with the love of my parents that I LIVE.

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A Walk with Mom: Day 16 Part II

Dad had collected himself and it was time to let the nurses know.  I walked out and told them and asked for their help.  I didn’t know what to do.  I didn’t know how or what was next, so please help me and guide me.  I told them that by Dad’s request I was to handle everything.  That the only thing he was to be involved with was any legal docs that he had to sign, and other than that everything would go through me.

I was numb, I was in shock and there was so much to do.  I had no idea what to do.  It is hard to remember everything, it was such a confusing day.  I know I told the staff, I know they put a sign on the door to see the nurse before going in the room.  I signed several papers and then they gave me a list of funeral homes.  They had to be called to pick Mom up.

I had to call the funeral homes. How do I pick a funeral home?  What do you even ask them? How do you know you are choosing right one? I just looked at that list and started shaking and my head was spinning.  I had to pull myself together, there was too much to do to fall apart.  Mom taught me better than that.  I took a deep breath and called the first place.

Nope, not the one.  I had a bad feeling about them. Called the second and they were very nice, friendly, compassionate. They understood I had no idea what I was doing and would take care of everything.

I know I made many phone calls to family, friends.  I must have called my boyfriend a dozen times.  I know that I cried. But I really don’t remember much of it.

I do remember that the nurses went in the clean Mom up, but they did not do a good job.  It was 3 or 4 hours later and my sister had not shown up yet with my nephews.  My cousin had taken Dad to be with him and support him.  I walked into room with Mom and noticed that her face had not been cleaned up.  I got a damp cloth and gently, lovingly washed her face and made sure she looked nice if the rest of the family wanted to see her. I arranged her and made sure she was OK to for them to see. I am a strong woman, but that was one of the hardest things I had to do.

When my sister arrived with her boys I told them the news.  I wasn’t sure how to say it and I think I did it wrong.  I met them in the parking lot and told them before they went up. I should have told them in one of the other rooms in the hospital.  But I wasn’t thinking. They did not want to see her, but my sister wanted her stuff out of the room.  They wanted to to take Dad to the family home while I took care of the arrangements.So I went in and out of Mom’s room, arms full for several trips, as I got everything of theirs out of the room. It was so odd.  I knew that Mom was technically no longer there, I couldn’t just walk into the room and not say anything.

Soon after everyone left and I would meet them later.  The men from the funeral home had arrived and I had signed the papers needed.  I walked into Mom’s room to say a final goodbye.  I sat by her bedside one last time, took her hand and told her that I loved her.  I told her that I would miss her for the rest of my life and that she was the best mother I could have been blessed to have.  And I thanked her for everything. And said one last time I love you, Mom.”

I turned to leave and the lights on the hospital room flickered 3 times, as if she was saying “I love…you.”  And I knew it was her.  I burst into tears because I knew.  And I told her that I wanted her to “haunt” me a lot, she had to know, I needed to know that she was still close, because I wasn’t ready to let her go yet.  I wasn’t ready to have a life without my Mom.

And all this year, she has given me signs that she is here close to me.  And though this past year has been the worst and hardest of my life, but I know she has been there for me.  I have made mistakes, but I have done the best that I could.  And I know that she loved me enough to last a lifetime.

 

 

A Walk with Mom: Day 16

Wednesday July 13, 2017

The day my heart broke.

MOM1

I didn’t sleep much that might and when I did I had my glasses in my hand.  I did this so that I could wake up and make sure that Mom was breathing.  I noticed her breathing was much more labored and I knew that it would not be long.

When I got up that morning and immediately went to her to tell her good morning and that I loved her.  I took her hand and I immediately knew that something was different. She was still alive, but the only way I know how to explain it is to say that she wasn’t in there any more.  She was not responsive as she was before.  Her hands were limp, her mouth open, her breathing very labored and from her chest, and her neck was seemingly over extended over the pillow.

Dad wasn’t awake yet and I remember praying so hard that I didn’t want her to go, but please, God please, take her if it means she doesn’t suffer. And to please give me strength, because I didn’t know if I could do this alone as my sister was not back yet.

It was as if my wonderful mother read my mind, because shortly after that one of my dearest cousins called and said she felt compelled, called almost, to be there that morning.  I knew that Mom somehow, while in between this work and then next, had put that thought into her head and asked her to come.  Mom had always been close to that cousin, her niece.  And I knew once again Mom was taking care of me.

A little while later one of the doctors came in and did something so strange, yet said nothing.  He took his stethoscope and listened to Mom’s abdomen.  He listened intently and frowned.  What I found out later that he was listening for sounds from her intestines. A healthy person will have sounds coming from the abdomen.  However, when the internal organs shut down and there are no sounds, then death is near.

I started working on Moms nails again as I was waiting for Dad to wake up.  And then I combed her hair. It was all matted and tangled from he laying on it and not being washed over the last few days.  I was terrified of pulling her hair and hurting her, even though on some level I knew that she was in a coma by now.  Most people who pass naturally actually go into a coma before death. For that I was glad because she had suffered so much over the last 16 days, and several years.

I sang to her as I combed her hair:

Surely the Presence of the Lord in in this place
I can feel in His mighty power and  His grace
I can feel eh brush of angels wings,
I see glory on each face
Surely presence of the Lord is in this place

And I arranged her hair as best as I could. It was thin and frizzy from the malnutrition.  I gently brushed hair out of her face and arranged her blouse.  I knew that she would want to look as nice as possible, Mom was always a lady and a lady always looks nice.

When Dad woke up her immediately went to Mom’s side. I went to call my best friend and my boyfriend for support and encouragement.  I didn’t know how to do this. I needed to hear their voices to help me.  And I cried and I prayed.  How do I let my mother go?

The ladies from Palliative Care came in to once again check and see how Mom was, how we were and if there was anything that we could do. The explained to me that the way she was breathing, from her chest muscles, that it would seem she might have a few hours, and that was it. They changed her oxygen mask to make her more comfortable, and asked a few questions.

I started frantically calling, texting and emailing my sister to please, please get there with the boys. Mom would want them there and they would want to say goodbye.  I could not understand where they were.

And where was my sister?  How could I do this?  How could I help and guide Dad through it, while loosing my Mom at the same time? It was all so surreal. My head was swimming.

I cannot describe the emotions felt s=during this time.  It was a sadness and reality I had not known before.  It was fear and love and heartbreak and shock and…so many indescribable things. You move through those moments as if on auto pilot, as if you are not really you.  It’s almost like an out of body experience because when I look back I see it from almost a third person perspective.

Soon my cousin arrived and I knew Mom knew she was there.  My cousin was a retired nurse and no doubt had seen death before. I will never forget how gently and gingerly she took Mom;s frail hand and put her head down.  Mom’s breathing was more and more shallow.  We all gathered around the bed.

I was on one side holding Mom’s had and stroking her hair.  Dad and my cousin were on the other side. Dad was holding Mom’s hand and had the most lost expression in his face. My cousin was gently and softly talking to Dad, while keeping an eye on Mom’s breathing. I twas like an unspoken plan – she would talk to Dad and be a distraction, while I took care of Mom in that moment. And so it went.

And as it got close, I could almost feel the moment.  It was as if the heat from her hand receded in an instant. It wasn’t cold all of the sudden, but there was no more life being generated from that moment. It was a shift so slight and subtle I almost doubted it happened. You are never prepared to see your loved one take their last breath.  Her breathing was more and more shallow, the time between breaths kept growing. I held her hand and stroked her hair and watched as her chest barely rose, then did not rise again.  And she was gone. It was quiet, it was peaceful, it was the most beautiful and painful moment of my life.

Mu cousin knew and their conversation came to a lull.  I looked at Dad, as he was still holding her hand, and said softly: “Dad. It’s time.”

He looked at her leaned over and said “She’s not breathing.”

“No.”

It was 12:15.

And he fell apart.  His wife, his best friend, his partner, his lover, his everything, was gone.  He began to scream her name and cry.  He called out her name over and over, more pleading in his voice each time. It is the pleading that comes up from the depths of your soul, where pain originates. He gently held her face, stroked her cheeks, his tears falling on her brow and gently down her cheeks too. It broke my heart. That was truly the hardest moment, to see my strong father in those moments after loosing what he loved most dear.

He cried and called out her name, begging for her to come back for maybe 30 minutes and then finally was able to speak to us.  He asked me to make the phone calls and take care of all of the arrangements, he just couldn’t do it.

I took the cannula from her face and nose.  I brushed her hair once more.  I arranged the covers for her and tried to make it so it was easier for others to see her.

I cannot describe what those moments were like.  I was lost. I could not imagine a life without her.  She was my Mom. How could she be gone?

At 12:15 today, my beautiful mother passed away peacefully. She was surrounded by family and an immeasurable amount of love. We held her hands as she slipped from,this world into the hands of God. While it was the most painful experience of my life, it was also the most beautiful. It was truly my honor to be there with her. I have been so blessed to have her as my mother, and for this many years. Please continue to pray for our family as we go through this difficult time of figuring out life without this amazing soul. Please especially pray for my father who lost his dearly beloved of 49 years. She is a beautiful soul, was a wonderful wife, and amazing mother. I will miss her every day of my life.