It has almost been 6 months since Mom died. For the most part, I feel I am coping well. On the outside there are no visible wounds. On the inside, there is something…something I can’t quite seem to reconcile. It’s an image that is stuck in my mind.
It was New Year’s Eve, the last night I spent in the hospital with Mom. I was next to her bed, my was actually chair touching it. I was playing her customized song list while I blogged about the experience. I would find myself watching her to ensure she was still breathing and there were times that her breaths were spaced far apart, but she kept on. Right before she drifted away, I felt a change. I could sense she was transitioning. I kept writing and pausing to watch her…talking to her in a soothing voice. “Mom, I am here. It’s okay. I am going to be okay. We will all be okay. I love you. We all love you. We all know how much you love us. You are a good mother. Find your peace and rest.” I learned from working in hospice, that many people will “hold on” in this type limbo for long periods of time, fearful to leave their loved ones behind. I wanted her to be assured that we would be okay. I wanted her to know that she had permission. And although she was completely unresponsive, I knew she heard me.
Shortly before midnight, I watched her chest rise and fall for the last time. I watched and waited…expecting her to keep on, as she had been. But she didn’t take another breath. I keep seeing the image in my mind. Mom was so thin and frail that I could see the veins in her neck pulsating. I watched as her heart continued to beat…the vein continued to beat. And as I sat there, holding her hand, I watched it gradually slow down until the vein ceased to pulsate any longer. It was final. She was gone. And I keep seeing the image over and over. It’s the part of the experience I cannot seem to process.
I knew she was dying. I knew that she was comfortable and pain-free. I was honored to be there with her. But it is immensely difficult to watch someone you love go through the act of dying. There is a helplessness and a feeling of panic when it happens. No matter how prepared you think you are…it kicks you in the stomach. My pain, my grief is wrapped around that image of her last breath and heartbeat. Watching it all unfold. Don’t get me wrong, i am thankful that I was there. Thankful to have stuck through it with her, because she would have been right my side in the same situation. But there’s a burden in witnessing her final moments, that haunts me daily.
But that is grief. Sometimes it feels like you’re in a black hole…and you can see the sun from a distance, but you don’t feel the warmth on your face. I miss her. I wish she was here to help me get over losing her….