I don't want this to be overkill or anything, but I have wanted to share this since my mom passed and I haven't had the chance yet. So, here's my chance.
Thursday, August 9, I woke up, went into mom's room to check on her, and once again, I was so thankful to see her breathing. She was breathing much heavier. But I was just glad to hear her breathing, she was still here... still with me. I could still hug on her, kiss her, talk to her, sing to her, pray with her, read Scripture to her, hold her hand, touch her, smell her, love on her, and take care of her. I gave her some more morphine, took Bella out and then came back in and changed her. She wasn't responding to much at all, not even to being moved. She wasn't opening her eyes really at all either. But I still talked to her, and prayed with her and held her. A little later I got a huge surprise as the phone rang, when I looked at the caller ID it had my cousin's name on it. Now the big deal about that was, this was a cousin we hadn't heard from in years.....several years. She has struggled with life. She struggled when she was younger, college age, and for years after. She got saved and changed her life around, found a great guy, got married and had two beautiful children. But then the old demons came back and she started struggling again, not long after her mother passed away. Her husband took the kids and moved back home with his family in South Carolina because it was no longer safe with her. We didn't hear from her after that, always wondering where she was and how she was. So....this was the cousin who called, what a shock!!! She asked how my mom was doing and I told her a little of what had been going on and told her she wasn't doing well. She asked me if I could just put the phone up to mom's ear so she could talk to her. When I did that and my cousin started talking to her, my mom's eyes fluttered a little. It was so amazing to see that! I could tell she could hear her, and knew this was an important call, and it was special. That was the last real response I saw from her.
The nurse came later that morning to check her vitals. Her temperature was fine at 97.9. Her oxygen level was 98%. Her pulse was a bit high, but she was breathing pretty heavy. When the nurse took mom's blood pressure it was 90/50. I asked if that was bad. She brought my aunt and I out into the hallway and told us that it was a very low blood pressure. She said when it's that low, it's a sign of the body shutting down. She said it could be hours, or it could be days, you just can never tell. That was difficult to hear. I mean I think you get to a point that you know it can't be much longer, but somehow you just hope against hope that things might change, that a miracle might happen, that you'll get more time. Even though you don't want to see them like that, there's still a desire to have them with you. I guess maybe it could be that when they are still with you, there is still a chance for a miracle or something. With that new knowledge I knew it was going to be a day close to home and especially close to mom. That day was spent in the kitchen and in mom's room. Taking Bella out was the farthest I went that day! I kept going into mom's room to talk to her and sing to her, and read the Bible to her. I just wanted to be around her, even though she was not responding at all. I would go out of the room once in a while and her sister would go in and spend time with her. Then I would go in later to spend more time with her. That's pretty much how the day went. Again, she wasn't eating, so I spent time swabbing her mouth with water, so it wouldn't be so dry. She was breathing so heavy with her mouth open, I knew it had to be getting pretty dry. Between my aunt and myself, we never left mom's side that day.
That night my aunt asked me what I wanted to do about bed. I didn't understand what she was asking. Then she explained to me that one of us should stay up with her while the other slept and then switch. I hadn't thought of that and I'm so glad she did. I was so worried that mom would pass in the middle of the night and we would wake up in the morning and find her cold, and I didn't want that. So, I was so glad she suggested that! Since I am a night owl, and since I was keeping up with the Olympics and staying up late anyway, I offered to start off, and let my aunt sleep. I watched the Olympics, swabbed mom's mouth, sang to her, talked to her, prayed with her, held her hand, spent time on my phone, and pretty much repeated that whole process. At about one in the morning, mom's pastor texted to ask if it would be OK to come over to see her. I told him that would be fine, I was still up. He was unable to sleep because he had just gotten word that his niece was being flown to a hospital in another town in North Carolina because she had an accident with a horse. He didn't know much, but heard that she had internal bleeding, and a couple of other problems. So, he came over and we talked in mom's room for a while. I sat holding mom's hand as we talked. I just wanted to be close to her. I noticed that she seemed to be breathing a little harder, and a couple of times would make a kind of huff sound, so I was watching her closely. We talked for about a half hour, and then he left to head home. After he left, I decided to charge my phone. As I was plugging it in and listening to mom, I was also asking the Lord how I would know when to call my aunt to come into the room...just in case.... Mom seemed to be breathing heavier, but was it heavier than before or was I just thinking it was heavier...how would I know? After asking that, I turned around to go sit beside mom some more and was shocked to see her eyes open a little bit. That's the moment I knew to get my aunt to come into the room. She came in and we both stood over mom, my aunt on one side while I was on the other. We held her hands and rubbed her arms, and again talked to her, sang to her, prayed with her, basically just loved on her. Earlier in that week I had a couple of people tell me to be sure to let her know it was OK to go. Though I know they meant well, I was not even thinking of going there. I never told that to my pappy, and he still went when it was his time. Other people might be OK with doing that, but I'm not them. So though I know they meant well, that was fine for them....but just not for me. It wasn't OK with me! How do I tell my best friend that it is OK to leave me.....leave me all alone...no dad, no brothers, no sisters, no husband, no boyfriend, no kids....just me...alone? How do I tell this amazing woman who I loved to spend time with, even when she was sick and not able to do as much, that it was OK to go, leaving me without that fun partner to hang out with. She's my mom, I need her, it's not OK. All the memories of trips to the mall, beaches, aquariums, fairs, musicals, and plays at the Bushnell came flooding to mind. All the memories of times spent together, with Bella, in the car, in the house, during holidays...memories that no one else except us could share came to mind. All the memories of younger, healthier days came to mind, days where I would never have imagined having to even deal with something like this. It was NOT OK.
As I stood there watching her breathe so heavily, something else came to mind....thoughts that even though mom had Alzheimer's and couldn't remember much, and even though she was not even really there, she was holding on. I know she was holding on because in her mind it wasn't OK to leave me, she wanted to, but was hesitant to. That's the moment I knew I had to do the difficult thing....that's the moment I looked into mom's eyes and told her what an amazing mom she was. I told her that she lived such a great life doing so many things for so many people....helping so many....working so hard. I told her she was my best gal and that I loved her so much! I told her that her little love Bella was on the floor at the foot of the bed, just laying down and resting, and she was going to be OK. I told her that her sister was standing next to her, holding her hand, and she was going to be OK. I told her that I know she was looking right at me, and could see my eyes and my face and she could see that I was OK. I told her we were all going to be OK, and that it was now time for her to take her rest, we were all going to be OK. Eventually her breathing started to slow down, and it got softer, and continued to slow down and soften, and slow down and soften. Pretty soon she took a short, quiet breath in and eventually another....and another...and another, all the while my aunt and I reminded her that it was OK. Then she took one more little breath in...and that was it....she didn't breathe in again, and she was gone from us. Gone from us here, but happily home in heaven with her Lord and Savior...and my pappy, her beloved and very missed husband. Though it was a very sad moment, it was also a very precious moment to see her sweetly go home. My aunt looked at the clock and then I did. The time was 2:09, but my aunt said when she looked it said 2:08, and she looked before I did. So, at 2:08 on August 10, 2012, my precious mom, my best gal, my best friend.....my mommy... went home to heaven. Her eyes sweetly shut on their own and her mouth was no longer gaping open as it had been while she was trying to get in those breaths. I just kissed her more, and again told her how special she was to me. Then I held her hand, and got the great picture from the previous post of our hands together. There was still such strength in her hand, and it was a special moment to be able to hold it one more time...before the nurse came to pronounce her, and the funeral home came to take her. These precious moments will always be in my memory and I am so thankful for them!!
Lord, thank you for the strength you've given me to make it through this summer with mom. Thank you for the time to spend with her. Thank you for allowing me to have the strength to take care of her. Thank you for letting me be with her up to the end. Thank you for all these precious moments!
I miss her so much, Lord! It's hard to be here without her or my pappy. But thank you for the memories and special times shared with these amazing people that you gave to me to be my parents. It's been a privilege to be a part of our little family, nothing will ever be able to compare to it, and it was definitely a huge privilege to be able to take care of them. They are in your hands now. Give them my love!