Here we are again.

I am beyond thankful to have another night with Mom. She is completely non-responsive. Her breathing is slower and her blood pressure is steadily dropping. The doctor feels certain that she will leave us soon. I keep looking over at her to make sure she is still breathing. Sometimes, I have to watch for a several seconds, as there is a long pause.

We are having another night of listening to music. Hearing is the last faculty to leave us…I know this because I worked for hospice for several years. We were always careful not to talk about a patient’s impending death in front of the patient, as they are often able to hear what’s being said. Every now and then I’ll speak up and let her know I am here with her. I am convinced she knows.

I’ve made a playlist so I can remember this time together…what we listened to. The memories the songs represent. I want her transition to be pleasant. It’s something for me to do because I just feel so helpless. I can’t make this better. I hope she is not in any pain. They have been giving her medicine around the clock and she seems to be in no distress, but I still worry. Funny how the role reversal of being a parent to your parent gives us the same anxieties as it does about our children.

Last night I gave Mom permission to go. It seemed that the time was approaching and I wanted her to know it was okay. Because in her heart, she is still a parent, and will always worry that her kids are okay. Which leads me to a conversation we had last week. Last Monday I picked her up from the nursing facility to make cookies with the kids. She didn’t feel like doing the cookies, but really enjoyed her time with the family. The house was decorated for Christmas and we were all focused on her.
On the way back to the center she looked at me and said, “You look really happy I am glad you’ve found someone who gets you and that you are doing so well.”
I looked at her and said, “I am really happy, Mom. Life gets hectic, but I am truly happy And yes, he does make me happy”
She reached over and held my hand and said, “I am so glad. You know that’s all I’ve ever wanted for you. I can die in peace now, knowing you are happy.”
I had no idea that this conversation was almost a premonition. I found it a bit strange that she mentioned dying in peace, but I had no indication things were going to turn so quickly. Reflecting back on that conversation, I am so thankful that we talked and she was able to tell me how she felt.

It gives me peace.

You see, my mother was not an affectionate mother. She rarely gave anyone a nod of approval, me and my brother included. She was the person who saw the glass half-empty and complained about the spots on the glass. For some reason, she always had an adversarial relationship with me…almost as if we were competing with one another. I never understood why she didn’t “like” me. Why was she so cruel at times? And during this part of our journey, I have thought of some of the things between us. At first, I became upset…defensive…angry. And then with the guidance of a few friends and one good man, I stepped back and realized that I needed to focus my attention in a positive way. Mom had limitations. She had a difficult time showing love or affection. And that was her burden, not mine. My job was to love her. To accept her. To forgive her. To show her the grace she needed.

And here we are, night three of this leg of our trip. I realize how much I have learned through this experience. How much I have gleaned from the sorrow and grief. How much closer I am to God through this. What a gift she has given me. A gift of life, from a woman who was told she could never have children. A gift of understanding grace and love. Helping to make me the person I am.

As I close this post, and face the remainder of this night and whatever it may bring, we are listening to the song that she and my father claim as “their song” It’s “For the Good Times” by Ray Price. Seems appropriate in the moment. Although it was written about a break-up, the line, “Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together” is perfect for our little Girls Night In, in room 752 of University Hospital.

Don’t look so sad, I know it’s over
But life goes on and this old world will keep on turning
Let’s just be glad we had some time to spend together
There’s no need to watch the bridges that we’re burning

All my love, Mom.  For the good times…

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