When my mom took her last breath, I didn’t know how I would get through the next moments. Right or wrong, she and her care (and survival as a wife and mom) consumed my world… I had watched her go from living a full life into a state of decline whereby she could no longer walk or move herself about independently.
Some people have this happen in a short amount of time. Others of us live with it for years, and it’s a gradual thing, a normal routine. And we can’t see the severity of the decline until after the fact has come and gone.
I remember the feeling of total helplessness as I watched her breath escape her. For all the times I wondered about this moment, it was nothing I expected. I hate death scenes in movies, and hers was not much different than the ones I hate. I hate them even more now than before.
Nothing about how this scene played out was how I prayed it would happen. But the real question is, does it play out for anyone how we wish it to be?
I remember waking up the next morning, all of us girls in the house with our dad, and going and sitting at the kitchen table, unable to function. Unable to think about what to eat for breakfast. Unable to think about what needed to be done next. I was done. shot. kaput. exhausted. There was nothing left for me to give. To anyone. Anywhere. Like a metal tank to which someone took a high-powered vacuum and sucked all the air out. I was dented, rusted, and worn.
If I could have described my life at that moment, I would have given a snapshot of a crossroads deep in the middle of a mountain somewhere where the 4 roads meet. I would have been found in the middle of a puddle, laying there in a heap face down in the water. Surrounding all the roads on all sides of me were tall green trees of all varieties. And I was alone.
Now what? Now where? Now who? What next?
I couldn’t imagine a day ever without her, though I tried. For years I had tried to imagine what it would be like when I could decide how long and how far away I wanted to travel. I tried to imagine what life would be like when I didn’t check my schedule and base my appointments around a dialysis schedule. I tried to imagine what it would be like without a mother, and truthfully I could never imagine this scenario for very long because mother’s are supposed to live forever. They aren’t ever to leave ahead of us. Ever.
Some people haven’t yet been without their mother for 1,825 days. Others have been without her for longer. And the truth is, no matter how long or short the time has been, a mother’s absence leaves a gaping, jagged hole.
I’m trying to be present with and for my kids. I may never be able to prepare them to live without me, but I want our memories to be pleasant and peaceful. My heart is full of love for these offspring…Abigail, Elisabeth, Ben, Ethan, & Andrew. My nest is full. And I will love them beyond my last breath, just as I know my mother loved me. This is the gift I will pass along.
I now realize the last gift she gave to me was to take her flight on my watch — no matter how much I dreaded that ending.
Rest well, Momma…I’ll see you in the morning!