My mother was there to witness my first breath and
I was there to witness her last.
On New Years Day I received a message that my mother had to be sedated. She was under the temporary care of a nursing home. They were going to care for her for a few days while giving a much needed break to my little sister, Terry, who had been her primary caretaker for nearly two years.
We all quickly made our way to the nursing home to check out the situation and give her whatever attention she might need. Her earlier diagnosis of lung cancer had made its way to her brain and she was not reacting well to the medication. After staying two nights there while she was stabilized enough to bring her home, we were told that her time was limited and she was dying.
We took her back to my sister's house and set her up in the living room. I watched my little sister administer the most loving care I have ever witnessed. With no nurses training, she learned quickly how to make my mother as comfortable as she could be. I marveled at the way she instinctively knew what to do.
For the next four days, my sister and I kept a watchful eye and shared those last few days watching Mom breathe. We talked to her and shared loving stories about our early days as children. We sang her favorite songs. Terry played the piano and we spent the next few days making sure that she knew we were there and that we loved her dearly. My other sister, Pam, was there periodically. It was apparent to Terry and I that she was having a lot of difficulty with Mom's condition. While we tried to comfort Mom, we were also aware that our sister was in pain and needed some comfort as well.
On the Friday morning of her death, Terry and I both realized that the end was nearing. We were told that those facing death need permission to leave. And we did that. We told her we were all going to be fine and that she could go. Anyone who knew my mother for any length of time would know she talked often of Jesus and God and her longing to finally meet her Lord. So, we knew that she was ready. But as ready as she was, she was also stubborn. It had to be her way and in her time and on her terms. And she certainly showed us that.
After having reapplied ice packs under her arms, I looked into her glazed over eyes as she starred into the abyss. “Momma, those angels sure are tired. They've been waiting on you for a while now. It really is okay to go.” At that very second after hearing my words, she took her last two breaths. Terry was there at her bedside on the phone with the Hospice nurse. “Terry, it's happening,” I said. She quickly placed her hand on Mom's chest and felt her last heart beat.
At that moment, we both looked at each other with such joy in our eyes and smiles on our faces. Then we quickly questioned, was this the way we were supposed to feel? There was no sadness. There was no sorrow. There were no tears. We were happy and full of joy. We were overcome by the beauty of the moment. I remember us both expressing how much joy we felt. It wasn't relief. Just joy. Pure joy.
Earlier that week, we had both witnessed a lady bug on our mother's pillow. It stayed there the entire time. It served as a symbol of comfort for us then and symbolic of a blessing later.
I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life. I was not there when my father died, quickly and unexpectedly. I wasn't there when Rick's mother and father passed away. This was my first experience with the death of a loved one.
I can't explain the beauty that I saw in this but I would imagine it would have been what my mother would have wanted. We saw her spirit move from this place to the next with such grace and such beauty that I have no words to describe it.
So, I guess my reason for sharing this is to say that death isn't to be feared.
I do believe that is was important for me to be there to witness our sweet
mother's last breath....and thank her for giving us life.
Rest in Peace, Sweet Ladybug!