Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Day I Lost my Mother

Almost 11 months it has been since we had to say goodbye.  I can't believe it.  I also can't believe it has taken 11 months to write this post.  I have sat down many times to write, but it is hard.  It is hard to think about that day.  Don't get me wrong, I think about it quite often, but to write down all the little details and consciously go through the entire day - so sad.  But It is important for me to write it, almost like a tribute to my mom, to write down the details so they will never be forgotten, to write about the beauty that did occur that day, or maybe even to help someone going through the same thing.  Well here it goes:

Mom was in palliative care.  The night before she died, Greg and Melayna were at the hospital and Greg said this is the best day my mom has had in here so far.  She was totally coherent and having conversations.  When I got there she didn't make conversation, but would definitely talk when I spoke to her.  One sad part she said "Aren't you sick of this already", I replied "mom, there is no other place I would rather be".  She replied "I am tired, so tired".  I tried to cheer her up sharing some twizzlers and joking about how hot her male nurse was.  I left telling her I loved her and gave her a gentle hug.

The hospital called at 2:30am and said if we wanted to be there for her passing we should come.  So Mark's mom rushed over and we ended up getting to the hospital the same time as my brother and Melayna.  I was expecting to walk into her room and see her resting peacefully like in the movies, but it was nothing like I imagined it would be.  She was moaning, squirming and throwing her arm up, her eyes were bulging and looking all over.  She seemed very unsettled and scared.  I was scared and shocked and couldn't go close to her, I just melted into Marks arms and cried.  Greg went over and said it's ok mom, we are here now and gently helped her put down her arm.    The nurse came in and gave her some pain medication, which helped settle her down.  I think us being there helped her as well, she wasn't alone.  The nurse said she checked her at 2am and she was fine, but came back at 2:30 and it was totally different. 

It was still hard to be around her but I wanted to be strong for her, her eyes were open the whole time and she was just staring all over, but looking through you, breathing real heavy and making these sad noises.   It was sad that her eyes were open, I think the nurse could tell it was bothering me.  She said, she is being greeted by loved ones, coming to gather around her for when she is ready to transition to the other side.  That is what she is looking at.  She isn't scared. 

We just sat there for the longest time staring at her, then I remembered my mom would not like us doing that, so we started sharing stories of mom.  We had lots of laughs and tears.  I read that their hearing is the last to go, so I hope my mom heard some of our stories.

The doctor came around 10:30 and he couldn't believe how quickly she deteriorated.  He said it could be 2 hours or two days, so hard to tell and that she was in a coma.  He also encouraged us to talk to her, that her hearing is the last to go.  Since we figured it may be some time before mom passes,  Greg and Melayna left to go let their dog out and Mark went home quickly to get a few things.  The nurses came and bathed her and put on a clean nightgown.  After that I had a good talk with her alone - it was so beautiful for me and I hope it was for her.  I told her how much she is loved by all, how sorry I was that she couldn't be there to see our kids grow up, that Grandpa and Grandma were waiting for her, that even though we will miss her so much it was her time to go, to be at peace and free of pain.  In preparing for my moms passing, I had done some research on what the signs are that someone is getting ready to pass as well as how to help them pass peacefully and the way they wish.  I had read that sometimes the dying don't want you to see them take their last breath and prefer to die alone, so I told her, I am going to the washroom mom, if you want to die alone, I understand.  This is your journey.  I tried to take my time, and when I got back she was still alive. 

Greg and Melayna came back and Greg requested he have some time alone with her and would call/text if anything changed.  Mark and I went and got a bite to eat in the hospital cafeteria.  I had my phone on vibrate and literally didn't take my eyes off it the entire meal.  Mark wanted to phone his sister to see how the kids were doing so we went outside for a walk, and I put my phone in my purse.  Yes, I put my phone in my purse.  I don't know if it was the lack of sleep, but I just sat there dazed listening to Mark talk to his sister.  A couple minutes went by and I realized "my phone, oh my goodness my phone"!  I immediately grabbed it and there were two texts from Greg and a missed call, her breathing had changed, come back.  We ran through the hospital, the elevator ride seemed to take a lifetime, I literally felt like I was on an episode of Grey's Anatomy, but when we got back to her room she was already gone.  We literally missed it by 10 seconds.  She passed away at 12:30pm on August 27th.

The nurse came in and put a beautiful blanket on her, closed her eyes and crossed her arms.  She looked so peaceful.  So free of pain.  I believe my mom didn't want me to witness her passing, it was her last gift to me, but I will write about that in another post.
Mark called the funeral home.  We of course stayed till they came.  After they arrived, we said our goodbyes and I requested that a fuzzy blanket her cousin had brought my mom stay with her.  My mom was always cold, I wanted her to be warm, I know silly.  We started walking down the hallway.  When we got to the end of palliative care, ugh, this still brings me to tears every time.  I turned around to look at her room one last time.  I don't know what I was expecting to see.  But what I did was the funeral attendants were standing outside her door, one on each side of the door, with their hands together, kind of like how the military stand at attention.  It just showed such respect for my mom, for my family.  They were respecting us and waiting till we left before moving her, even though it was just her physical body  it was such comfort knowing her body was in such good care.  I will never forget that image, never.