Saturday, July 05, 2008

Mom is gone

Mom died peacefully yesterday at 6:21pm in her home surrounded by family. Lori, our hospice nurse, said that even though Mom wasn't responsive near the end, she could hear us. So we talked to her a great deal as the hours winded down. I was giving her morphine to ease her breathing and later atropine drops in her mouth for the growing congestion. We would stroke her hair, hold her hand, and occasionally swab her drying lips with a soothing solution. When she no longer responded to the knuckle-in-the-chest stimuli, we knew she was almost in the next place. Her breath grew more labored and slowed. Only minutes remained. We told her it was okay to go. Her eyes began to open and she slowly scanned the room, looking at everyone. She looked directly at me for some moments. I whispered in her ear, "it will be wonderful. It's okay Mom. You can go now." Soon, her breathing slowed and stopped momentarily. She then raised her head slightly and with a slight grimace that trembled with determination and sadness, she closed her eyes, lay back on her pillow, and was gone. Aside from the muffled sobs of our family, all was quiet. Dad sat on his walker, tears streaming down his face, and blessed everyone in the room for being there for Essie. In that small room, Grant, Louise, Susie, Corey, Rachel, Justin, Dad, and me saw Mom go peacefully and with great dignity exactly where she wanted to be.

Later, after we had cleaned up the room and the funeral people had removed the body for later cremation, we went out on the balcony overlooking the city. We could see and hear the July 4th fireworks at McIntire park, cheering what we saw as a colorful and noisy celebration of Mom's life. We all agreed that such a day is a fine one for a loved one to go. As it happens, our dear Nora's mother died eight years ago on July 4th at about the same time of day. Now, when the next July 4th rolls around, we can think of both of our moms enjoying peace as we celebrate the life they shared with us. That's a nice gift.