I told my brother to go lay down on the sofa and that I would take vigil. I propped my chair on the opposite side of him and the bed, positioned myself in the same direction that my mother was facing. I started petting her bald and bumpy head from the chemo and the inflamed lymph nodes as tears started to run down my face. “Don’t cry ma… I am right here. I promise I won’t let anything happen to you… I love you so very much.” Her cries began to subside and I stayed there holding her inflamed hand and petting her head, trying to comfort her as she did me so many times. I am falling into a state of fear, hopelessness and despair…
For the next few hours, I sat there with her, awake, spacing in and out, watching god knows what was on TV at 5:30 in the morning. It was then that I could feel and hear my mom crying again, though no tears fell from her wide open eyes. My beautiful mother… please do not cry. "I am sorry you have to suffer like this… no one should suffer like this.” I reached over and picked up the self-administration control of the morphine pump and pushed the button to give my mom an extra dose of morphine. As I continued to try to comfort her, I realized that my poor mom, couldn’t see anything because of the way she was positioned. The only thing she could see was maybe my leg if she was lucky, but more than likely, only a tan wall and dark floor. I don’t want this, these surroundings, to be the last thing she sees. So, I pulled out my smart phone and the picture that was taken of her and me in the front of our house only a few years ago.
I held it, in front of her, directly in line of sight of her blank stare and gaze. Petting her head… tears flowing down… my voice quivering… “Mom, I can’t do this… I can’t watch you suffer like this anymore… It’s not right… It’s not fair… and you do not deserve this. Remember this picture of you and me? Well, I will always be here… Whenever you need to find me, you will always find me here at 5 Iris… I am so sorry… I couldn’t heal you…” Crying… Tears streaming down my face… I lost it… Lost all hope… Lost all faith… trying to hold it together for her and so that my brother and grandmother didn’t hear me… but my mother… did.
As I cried, trying to wipe the tears pouring from my eyes, my mother, through 5+ mg of morphine, closed her eyes, closed her mouth and with her last ounce of strength, opened her eyes, looked right at me and was present one last time. She heard me… she heard her son crying and came to comfort her son one last time. “I am so sorry Mom, I love you, so very much…” to which she weakly replied “I love you too…”
“What’s happening?” my brother woke up and replied.
“Get Nana up, mom’s passing…”
“What? No she’s not… ”
“Just get Nana up and get over here, mom’s awake and she’s passing!”
As they gathered to her side, I stepped out of the way… she looked right at them… they said their goodbyes… they told her that they loved them… and with all that she could muster, weakly stated “I love you too…” and then, her presence disappeared. Not even a moment later… a shift took place within that room… And my gaze was directed to the couch where a figure was sitting there. I know not if it was my mother, her spirit soul… her guardian, death himself, or a family member, but there was no question that there was an additional presence sitting there… With a few breathes after that… at 5:50 AM, August 29th, 2013… My Beautiful Mother Maureen, was no longer a mortal on this earth. And my life, would never be the same… again.
As I lay on the sofa of the hospice center… contemplating how I am supposed to continue on with the rest of my life, my beautiful mother Maureen, is nearing her final hours of her life upon this earth. My heart is breaking with every exhale of her breath knowing that every second is the last precious second that we will have together as mother and son. It’s 3:31 in the morning and she is turned sideways, facing the pale eggshell wall of her room. My brother, sits to her left, trying to keep vigil as his head bounces forward and back as he fights to stay awake. My grandmother, sleeps in the reclining chair as she is small enough to fit in it. Mom’s eyes are open, but she does not consciously see those in front of her. As she breathes, her mouth wide open, there’s the moan of her voice coupled with the gurgling of fluid in her lungs. She lies there, on the bed, with almost 4 mg of morphine per hour being pumped into her body by the medicine pump that lies beside her in an attempt to keep her comfortable and ease her breathing.
My mom… she doesn’t deserve this… she always put everyone else first… she was always taking care of everyone else… her patients, her father, her mother, her children. She lived her whole life for everyone. I get it, that was her choice. She always said “Bran, Your health comes first!” … And yet, she ignored her own advice. That, I do not understand. I am suddenly made aware of a shift in the room. Though my mother lay unconscious in her bed, I can hear her crying… I can FEEL her crying… knowing that she is dying and thinking that there is nobody there… trapped within her own body and not knowing how much longer she can fight. The hospice nurse comes in and I tell her that my mother is crying, but she only replies that “No, she is very comfortable, her breathing is labored, this is part of the dying process.” BullSHIT!! I don’t care what the doctors or nurses say... she may not be feeling anything physically, but she was not comfortable! The nurse then made an adjustment to the morphine pump and told me that she had bumped it up to 5 mg per hour.
Two nights after mom passed, I came home to an empty house. I had hardly slept. Grief stricken, I would lay on the couch, crying myself to sleep for a few hours. I kept reliving the days up to mom’s passing, for not even 2 weeks prior when she was in the hospital, and the events of her passing. Back in my own home, and I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I washed up and climbed into bed. Once more crying myself to sleep. While I slept… I suddenly became aware that I was no longer alone.
I could feel it… I became aware as if someone had turned on a light switch in my head. It was strong enough that I realized and became conscious yet still asleep. A spirit had entered my room and there was a familiar feel to it at the same time. I opened my eyes, and without moving the rest of my body, looked around the room. I was charged, electricity running up and down my spine. And then, something that I’ve only felt happen once before… though unrelated. I felt the presence climb onto the bed with me. I suddenly realized… Mom had come to comfort me. I started crying cause I knew it was her… Every fiber in my being told me so. I said "Hi Mom, I Miss you so much…" I could then feel her hug me under the covers. She just laid there with me and held me till I fell asleep and for the rest of the night. I could feel her and sense her. I so didn’t want that night fall to end… for when I woke up in the morning… I knew… she was no longer there…