The final days. As I lie here in my airbnb in northern Scottsdale an image and an experience comes to me with my Mom. First we are talking about air and breathing, I have just gotten back from northern Sedona where the air is crisp and clean. My Mom was with me three years ago in the exact places I went today. My Mom transitioned / passed this past July 2016. I have done a lot of focused intentional grief work while tying to see her whole and in an amazing place which she is. I feel very connected to her and in a good space but still processing some things. I miss our physical connection and being able to hear her voice with her inflections.
I begin to slip into this space.
The doctor says to us, please let us speak privately. We go to a small room with a round table and chairs scattered hap hazard. Someone is not there…is it my sister or brother. We look at each other in a panic of you cannot share important matters without them, we are all important when it comes to our Moms wellbeing. Finally, we are all together and this doctor whom my Mom had met just during this visit to the ICU and a doctor you could tell she liked said, ‘..your Mom cannot survive this second blocked lung. We need to focus on making her comfortable’ .. our eyes lock on each others as we stare in disbelief. My Mom had been told less than five days earlier ‘we need you to give us a rehab place for your discharge’. I had spent a whole day researching the best rehab places….I look at my feet and my hands as I am not sure how to contain my grief .. thoughts .. feelings. I can’t begin to even contemplate my life without my Mother, although I have known for many years she would leave this plane before me. We all begin to cry and then stand as we embrace each other with sobs of grief for none of us can imagine a life without my Mother or what any of the next steps will be. We get quiet as if we have done this dance or had this gathering before. The room reminds me of one of those small office rooms with the tight carpet and plastic chairs where no one enjoys being.
I ask what are they asking of us. They want us to okay their procedures for limiting things .. meds are the first thing and now it is just my sister and I by her bed. A doctor arrives we have never met. It is a woman and she is nice and pleasant. She wants us to okay taking her off all of her meds. My Mom was on a lot of medications. She had COPD, she had one kidney, she had high blood pressure and her heart was in AFIB.. she was wearing one of those respirator masks that was forcing air into her lungs because one lung had collapsed. The noise was like a high pressure vacuum. I asked the effects/affects of taking her off meds and they implied we could decide on each one but all of them could not go through her IV bc they were not compatible. They had not been able to find a fresh receptive vein. Where to begin.. she had an infection so they also had her on antibiotics. The nursing staff had made the blood pressure cuff too tight and the plastic material had cut a hole deep in her arm so the artery was leaking blood every time her heart beat. …Had the infection come from this ? Who knew..what to do. We agreed to keep her on the antibiotics and take her off of everything else.
My Mom was 85 years old and still knew all her meds, played Sudoku every night and worried about making sure she was taking/doing what she needed to feel well. She was a brilliant capable woman who had been a branch chief for the National Security Agency (a very secret agency few knew about until Edward Snowden) in the 1950’s and in that instance we had suddenly been given control over her life. It was something I never wanted and I know she had never wanted.
It was a place I never ever asked for. I sat next to her as the vacuum pump went in and out forcing air into her lungs. It was so load it shook your nerves. I screamed inside not knowing what to share. Should I take that suction thing off and tell her they had given her a sentence of death. Would it be better for her to know ?? Oh God, what to do. I did not want this responsibility and I did not want to feel like I was keeping anything from her knowledge.
As I sat there in my own deep grief I let the world around me suck into a dark abyss. I could stand it no longer when they removed the tight strong suction cup from her face, I told her that the lung had collapsed again and they could not do anything. I fought with all my might not to scream in pain that I was losing her and I could not stand the thought of this. She stared at me in disbelief and did not say anything. She gave me this knowing look that went right through me. I wanted to wail but I knew it would not do any good. She closed her eyes and had a contemplative look, a sad look. I wished with all my might that my now ex-girlfriend had been with me. I wanted to be told it was ok and to feel the presence of loving support. I tried to be with it all.. Why had my Mom not been asked or been told directly by the doctor ? Is the thought that the mind and heart cannot handle being told of the bodies failings …. do we really know what our bodies, our minds, our spirits coupled with our emotions are capable of ? Is it right to withhold ?
My Mom had wanted to go to Hawaii and Ecuador – I decided to take her there so I told her stories of us arriving in these places and being on the sand and near the water and eating in the restaurants and seeing the mountains and colors and wonderful people. I took her there as best I could and without letting grief come out. She loved it, I could tell.
The long goodbye and just this past week I was in Sedona. It was the first trip we did together when I knew she was not a permanent fixture in my life. I had great memories that felt joy filled. I had episodes of tears for all the pain in the past year. I am so appreciative for my Mother and her presence in my life.
More sharings will come in my next book but know I am very much connected to my Mother and she is very much connected to everyone she knew here in this plane. On this trip we figured out how she could physically connect with me. When I ask her to connect the outside of my body on the edges will tingle, it’s a way she can give me a hug 😀 Please don’t be sad for me or yourself. We will all transition from here and then our understanding will be crystal clear.