Waiting for Relief

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 I cooked Mom her last meal of sweet and sour meatballs, rice and sliced carrots.  That night I sat with her, listened and talked with her as she came into reality after 18 months of denial.  Friday, December 17th, 2010 Mom passed away at 6am.  The small steps towards death that we witnessed every day dragging us to a finish line that we craved and dreaded all at once are what I am now reliving.

The sadness in my Mom’s eyes as she realized that she would not watch her grandchildren grow up.  Her realizing that her death would cause her grandchildren pain and grief.  Small joy at who was waiting for her on the other side.

Taking our last wheelchair walk.  Walking down the hall to the mail for the last time.  Walking across

her apartment for the last time with her walker.  Discussing funeral arrangements as if planning a family gathering.  Moving her hospital bed into the living room and setting up what would be her final living space.  Her taking the one step and turning to sit in her recliner for the last time. She would never eat a meal at the dining table again.

Only being able to wear hospital gowns.  Never getting out of bed again because it took 3 people to help her to stand.  Seeing the effects of starvation start to take effect.  No longer being able to sit up. Having random conversations about pall bearers over and over.  Stealing moments to go in the back bedroom to take deep breaths.

Not able to turn herself over in her bed.  2 people needed to turn her.  3 people needed to turn her.  Feeling through the gown how much smaller she had become.  Convincing her to take pain medication.  Learning to give morphine.  Needing morphine before she could be turned.  Never knowing when the pain would take over and she would have to be sedated. Her ever constant sense of humor.  No longer able to lift her head.  No longer able to hold a cup to drink.  Giving her sips of juice with a straw.

Thankful that she no longer feels hunger and has stopped asking for food.

The rest of us playing games late into the night to keep her company.  Starting coffee at midnight.  Time no longer exists in apartment 101. The blinds are always closed.  The low level of light is the same no matter what time of day or night it is.  Music playing 24 hours a day.  Having the same conversation over and over for many hours. Her waking up and telling us she was disappointed that she was looking at us and not heaven.

“It’s not fair.  Why do they get to go and I’m still stuck here?”  In response to hearing of family members passing before her; then saying that she must still be here for a reason and to not refuse any visitors in case they need to hear something that she has to say.  Mumblings and ramblings 24 hours a day; doing our best to listen and converse.  Almost constant praying and conversations with God as if he was standing beside her holding her hand.  “He knows everything so I don’t have to.”

She is no longer able to drink.  Wiping out her mouth with a sponge.  She is no longer able to see.  Not recognizing pictures of family.  Her having her eyes closed for hours and suddenly opening them wide as if startled and not knowing where she is.  Knowing that my Mother was starving to death and there was nothing I could do.

Never seeing her cry a single tear.  Visitors coming to say goodbye day after day. Thankful she is no longer thirsty and asking for something to drink.

The following strange and morose checklist that became normal:  Have her feet started to turn blue yet?  How many seconds between breaths?  Have her hands or feet started to swell?  Has her pulse changed?  Has liver failure begun?  And being slightly disappointed when nothing had changed.

Waiting for her relief.


One thought on “Waiting for Relief

  1. I remember this period when I lost my Mom — the time we knew she was close to the end, in pain, not all there. I described it as emotional torture. The only way out was to lose my Mom. I didn’t want to want her to go but somehow I couldn’t stand the state we were in.

Leave a Reply