There are strange things to hope for in life. Being woken up by my sister, so she can tell me Mom has died, is probably going to top the list for a long time. But it’s true, it’s what we’re all hoping for. She’s been semi-comatose all day, and we’re pretty sure she just checked out completely while the chaplain was attending to her. She has gone from being agitated, talking, trying to move, get water, wanting to hold our hands with desperate grip, to being curled within herself.
Mother, that which is called death has now arrived. You are leaving this world. But in this you are not alone. This happens to everyone. Do not be attached to this life! Do not cling to this life! Even if you remain attached and clinging, you do not have the power to stay. Marianne, beloved child of Christ, beloved wife and mother, dear friend, the time has now come for you to seek the path that will lead you away from us. Like the moon reflects on the surface of the water, you will always be reflected on the surface of our hearts.
When Grandpa died, I left the hospital knowing I’d never see him again. My mother and uncle stayed, and I went home to Max (our dog). I curled up in her bed, and Max – who normally doesn’t get in the bed at night, because he gets too hot – laid his head on the pillow next to mine. When the phone rang so I could let my mother in (I took her keys, as I drove her car home earlier), I knew why it was ringing.
My friend’s mother-in-law recently passed away from cancer. A few weeks ago, on the phone – when her MIL was still alive – she said to me, “I just can’t wait until …” and she stopped herself. I told her that it’s okay – that right now, it’s harder for you guys to go through this right now than it is for her. She said her FIL said something similar: “We don’t have morphine to get us through this.”
I don’t know if it’s harder for us. We have our coping methods – which sometimes include medications. In fact, I’m pretty sure that at least in this case, it’s harder for Mom than us. She can’t let go of us – it’s why she’s still here. She’s stubborn and strong and can’t imagine not being around to be our mother. To see my graduate, to see my sister go through medical school, sleep by my father every night.
All of the people in hospice that we’ve talked to, from nurses to chaplains, think that this sort of drawn out dying process one of the most difficult things we as human beings do – and while it is hell on us to watch, it must be ever so worse for her to experience.
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