The Last Days
I was suprised at how unbeautiful parts of it were...how undignified. Mom was unresponsive for most of the last 4 days and all of the last two. She started having to fight for air. She had apnea and snored constantly and would go a long time between breaths. She stopped being able to focus. She lost her words and her ability to communicate. She moaned. At times I think she fought to hold on even though it was obvious that while she wasn't perhaps in pain, she was far from peaceful or comfortable.
When she stopped eating, I got a little worried. I thought we might see her eat a little bit more at some point. Then I remember getting to the end of the day and looking at the water glass we'd filled for her that morning. I had been comforting myself all day that she was still taking in water, if only by us squirting it in her mouth with a syringe. Then I looked at the mostly full glass and realized she'd had about 5 teaspoons of water the whole day. Then I knew we were at the end.
Death seemed to come gradually and like a huge freight train bearing down on us all at the same time. I say that because we really thought we had more time. We thought we had a month or maybe more of Mom still being Mom... Of pain control and maybe some time to make beautiful memories. Instead three days into her being on hospice I knew we were at the end. And six days after she signed on, she was gone.
There were moments where Mom gave us tremendous gifts. Three days before she left, I woke up and was with her, and she asked for Daddy. He came in and the look in her eyes was still just so loving... It was the look that I know she had when they were first married and she would gaze at him without him knowing it. It was still there.
It was brutal and ugly when only a few hours later she didn't know who Daddy was and only referred to him as "That Man."
Mom's last attempt at saying something TO ME she told me that she loved me. I was sponging her mouth off, and said as casually and commonplace as we always have, "I love you, Mom." And she said it back. It seemed an automatic response at the time, but now I know it was an amazing gift.
It was hard. Incredibly hard. It was hard when she saw me and thought I was someone else. I felt humiliated for her at some of the things we had to do. It was exhausing. It was slow and yet so fast.
And when I came in after Daddy came to get me after she'd died, the beauty was there again.
Mom was at peace.
Mom is at peace.
And I miss her and it hurts all the time. The feeling of her laughing and smiling has faded a bit. I know she needs to go on and not cling even to reassure us. I know she still is laughing and smiling... She just can't be constantly letting me know, now.
I know that she still is. And that makes me happy. But I miss her.