Sunday, May 22, 2005

Long Overdue

Mom has left this world to go on to bigger and better things. Knowing that she has been totally healed and is no longer suffering makes things easier, but there is still a pain that can not be described in words. It is an aching of sorts. Sneaks up on me at the strangest times. Like walking through the grocery store and walking by a display of her favorite type of chewing gum. How I wish I could buy the whole display and drop it off to her. Or seeing her favorite author publish a new book, and she isn't here to read it. Should I read it for her? Should I be angry at the author for being so insensitive to my pain??

Mom spent the last few days of her life in hospice care at the hospital. She was removed from all medications except those that would make her comfortable. Her bruising (caused by the blood thinners) had all disappeared by the time she passed. She hadn't looked more beautiful than the night before she died.

She started to have extreme difficulty breathing on Weds night, but they were able to get it under control and make her comfortable. In her sense of humor, (she could see the panic in my eyes, I'm sure) she said, "I just want you to relax so you don't lose that baby". I assured her that I was much to sick to be in jeapordy of losing this baby.
On Thursday, I tried to call her hospital room several times, but she would not answer. Finally I called the nurse's station and they told me that she was having great difficult breathing. I asked if I should come and be with her and they said that they felt she might become more anxious, so they would call me if they thought I should be there.
Shortly after that, the call came that I should get there asap. They were moving her to ICU.
By the time I got to ICU, my brother was also there, we went to the waiting room and waited. They finally came in to tell us we could come back for a few minutes. Honestly it was a terrible scene. The nurse was poking her and prodding her trying to get blood for testing. She was not having much luck, and we requested that she stop. We knew that we were at the end and we would be calling hospice in the morning. She would not stop. Finally another nurse told her to stop. Thank you.

We spent a few minutes with mom. She was resting comfortably, but not able to really speak with us. We told her we loved her and that we would be back in the morning.

The next day, Good Friday, we called hospice in and they took over her care wonderfully. She was seen by a priest for her last sacraments which was a beautiful site to be witness to, especially considering the day that is was.

She was then moved to a very nice, large room. It was peaceful and quiet. Nursing staff involvement was kept to a minimum. She was not able to speak, save for a few very labored words. She was not able to eat.

The next day, I brought my two youngest children in. I went into the room first to assess the situation. When I walked in, Mom was sitting up in bed looking around. She didn't speak, but when the kids walked in, she smiled and gave them each a big hug and kiss. She was so happy! Then she laid back down and did not move much after that. I had brought a Wendy's Frosty along for the ride, since that seemed to be the only thing that settled my pregnant tummy. I thought she might like a bit of it. SHE DID!! I spoon fed her a few tastes. She licked her lips and waited for more. I could tell she knew what it was and she loved having it. It had been on her forbidden list of foods for some time.

We visited that day for some time and then again on Sunday. Easter Sunday. I stood by as the nurses bathed her and saw her body free of bruising. She looked so pretty. So comfortable. So peaceful.

I told my husband that I felt I should stay the night. He offered to stay, but I said no. We should both go home. I gave her a kiss, told her I loved her and left for the night. I promised I'd be back in the morning.

I checked with the nurses before I left for the night to make sure that they would call me if anything changed. They promised, as they did every time I asked, that they would. I had given each nurse I had met my numbers, but this night I did not. I was sure that after two weeks of doing this, they certainly had the numbers in the right place.

At 5:45 Monday morning, I received a call from the night time hospice nurse who informed me that my mom had died around an hour before. I was devasted. How come no one called? They told me they would call! The nurse told me that the hospital did not have my phone numbers. I can't explain that. Only that it must have been in God's Plan to not have me there. I wonder often if she woke up and wondered where I was. I wonder if she was feeling alone, scared, or abandoned. I have to tell myself that she was resting comfortably, just as I left her. I have to believe that when Christ came to get her, she was so happy to go, that she never looked to see if I was around. I have to believe that as she sits in Heaven with Our Lord, she looks upon me now telling me that she is proud of me and wants the best for me. But I still wonder... did I do everything I should have? Did I make the right choices? Did I follow her wishes? I suppose I'll always wonder.

I miss her everyday. I miss her calls. I miss her smell. I miss her laugh. I miss her spunk. She was so strong. The strongest person I know. She fought and fought, and fought to stay here. We had time that we never would have had unless she did fight.

I thank God for the doctors that she had who believed in her will to live as long as she could. I am thankful to the hospice staff and pallative care nurses at St. Luke's who helped mom and I to see where we were in our journey and what our roles should be.

I thank God for each friend and family member who has been there for us. For every single prayer and thought that was offered on our behalf. And for the support of my children and husband who allowed me to be with my mother through the most difficult time of her life.

Hold each one you love as tightly as you can. For today is all we have, yesterday is a memory and tomorrow may never come.