This time of year is hard on me. It’s been eleven years now since Mom has passed and I don’t suspect it’s going to get any easier as time goes on.
Mom was always so well put together at all times. In her last days, that was one thing that bothered her so much … not having the energy to put herself together before people visited. We always knew Mom felt bad if her hair was out-of-place and she was in her robe. Otherwise, there was not a hair on her head out-of-place, and I loved her all the more for it.
Far left is Mom
November 9th, 2006 was the anniversary of her death eleven years ago. Mom had fought several different types of cancer for over 30 years and won each battle without having to undergo chemo. She started with Uterine (removal), colon cancer twice (18″ of colon removed), and kidney cancer (right kidney removed). However, this last round of cancer found its way into her liver, pancreas, and duodenum in the form of carcinoid tumors. Carcinoid tumors are a slow-growing tumor that can arise in several places within the body but usually start within the digestive tract per Mayo Clinic explanation.
Far left is Mom
Mom had been sitting up in bed and talking only 2 days before the 9th. She was no longer eating though. Food held no appeal to her at this point. The nurses kept telling us the end was near but I simply couldn’t see it with her being so alert. Little did I know then just how quickly she would go once it was her time. I can say now I was not prepared. But, is anyone ever fully prepared to lose a loved one?
Again, far left and with her tongue out
The night of the 8th I couldn’t bring myself to fall asleep. The night nurse kept insisting that I get some rest and that she would wake me if Mom passed. But, that was unacceptable to me. I was not leaving her. An aide came back after her shift and stayed as well because Mom was one of her clients that touched her heart. Mom had that gift. No matter what she was going through, she still had a way of making others feel listened to and loved.
It was a little after midnight and the nurse gave Mom a shot to ease the pain. We all settled into the back bedroom that she was in and listened to her breathe. At first, her breathing was normal. A little after one in the morning the death rattle settled in. Dad was getting so tired. The nurse talked him into going on to bed, that she would get him when it was time. He nodded, went to Mom’s bedside, kissed her forehead and told her goodnight. The nurse once more pleaded with me to go onto bed, but I said once more that I was not leaving her.
The Aide and I sat and quietly talked while listening to Mom breath. Then out of no where she exhaled and didn’t take in another breath. Her and I looked at Mom for what seemed a lifetime. Then, suddenly, she took in a huge deep breath and began breathing again. Tears just streamed down my cheeks. It was becoming more real to me now. It was real before, but just more so now. The Aide suggested I lay in bed with her but I simply couldn’t for fear she could still feel pain. I couldn’t bring myself to cause her pain in her final moments. So we pulled the recliner to her beside and I laid in the recliner next to her bed, held her hand and stroked her hair.
At this point, it was just Mom and I, as the Aide decided to head home. She had a full day of work ahead of her and it was going on 3 a.m. I secretly longed for the alone time with Mom anyway. I gently laid my head on her shoulder and wrapped my arms lightly around her. Finally, I told her things were going to be fine here, that she could go and be in no more pain. She worried so much that I would have the hardest time with her passing and in a lot of ways I have. However, I told her I would miss her terribly, but that I would be fine. That she needed to go. It was all it took. She took her last breath at 3:17 a.m., while I held her in my arms.
Today, I leave her bible laying out with a light on for her every eve of her passing. Just something I do and will continue to do till I can no longer.
I miss her terribly!