No one expects to say goodbye to a loved one permanently. One minute you’re talking to them and the next minute they’re just gone. You never know when you are a phone call away from devastating news. So Wednesday when I get a phone call from an unfamiliar number I never expected my brother to be on the other side saying words that didn’t make any sense. The words Mom, heart attack, and hospital didn’t form a coherent sentence in my mind. Mom was fine, she had just talked to grandma a day or two ago. I said okay, keep me posted.
She died on the table three times and had to be brought back, but she was in bad shape. She had been without oxygen for over an hour. The doctors didn’t think she was going to make it. I got home in time to help my grandmother pack. She and grandpa went on down to the hospital which was 300 miles away. Not sure what was going to happen, I arranged childcare for my kids and followed the next day. The sight of my mother laying there as she was…wires and tubes coming from her as if she was a science experiment, it shocked me – which isn’t easy to do.
I stayed at the hospital until late. Finally I went to my mom’s house where my husband and I were staying with my sister. Fitfully, we slept for three hours before going back to the hospital. The next day was no better. Seeing my mother laying there… it felt impossible. I held it together for the most part. The first time I lost it was when she had a seizure. She opened her eyes and “looked” right at me. I couldn’t take it.
The doctors weren’t confident in her survival, but they were trying everything they knew to do. We all prayed. First we prayed for her to recover. When the unlikelihood of that settled upon us we began praying for a miracle, and for her to at least make it until my youngest sister could fly in from Germany. She stabilized for most of Friday, but there was no improvement. After my husband and I realized we were no longer making coherent sentences we went back to the house to again sleep fitfully. The next morning we get a call…mom had taken a turn for the worse and they couldn’t stabilize her blood pressure or heart rate.
The doctors and nurses started preparing us then. When mom’s rate drop so low it barely registered we knew it was time. The nurse said she would turn the monitor off after it reached a certain point, to save us from that fixation. It’s good that she did, because I was fixated on that number. Any time it fluctuated I would instantly become anxious. I begged for her to stay long enough for my sister to see her one more time.
Around 2 o’clock she passed away on her own. My sister was still on the plane.
Nothing in the world can prepare you for that. Nothing in the world can make you able to handle watching your mother die in front of you. I sat there for two and a half days watching her pass away. Nothing in the world will ever make that okay, but at least I was there. At least I could see her one more time, but then I remember that was the last time.
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a parent too young. She was only 47.
Nothing can prepare you for the loss of a child. My grandparents are in their 60’s.
Nothing can prepare you for the unexpected goodbye.