Let the Blessings Flow
I am sitting in the recliner next to Mom’s hospital bed, listening to the sound of the BiPap machine forcing the oxygen into her lungs as she sleeps, her sweet cheeks expanding and contracting with the motion of the air. This has been an emotionally intense day, and I have cried so many tears that my eyes and face are swollen. I look in the mirror and see a stranger staring back at me. This is an intense ride, filled with moments of great sadness, but also tender moments that I know I will cherish in the years to come.
I finally slept deeply last night- not long enough, but I did feel like I got some much-needed rest. I went over to The Home for Wayward Seniors to get Mom’s mail first thing this morning, and was engulfed with hugs, prayers, questions, and good wishes for Mom. I feel such love for the seniors who have become family to Mom and to me, and my tears flowed freely as they all told me how much they missed Miz Dorothy, what an angel she was, how kind she was to everyone. The Rev held my hand and told me how each morning he rides down to check to make sure the ‘I’m OK’ cards are turned over on everyone’s doors, and he has to stop himself from knocking on Mom’s door. I had him record a message for Mom, as she loves Rev so much.
While we were talking, my phone rang- the doctor treating Mom at St. Vincent’s. The news was not good- Mom had taken a turn for the worse, and even the BiPap was not helping her breathing enough. Her right lung was filling with fluid, and she has pneumonia. The doctor confirmed with me that there would be no heroic measures taken to keep her alive, at her request. It was so difficult to say the words, “Yes, Sir, that is true.” I began trembling as I put my cell phone away, and again, my precious Wayward seniors hugged and kissed me, sent blessings and prayers to Mom and to me. What a gift to have gotten to know and love these special people.
Mom was calling for me, so I jumped in the Bug and raced toward the hospital. I seemed to get every red light, get behind every slow driver. I could feel my anxiety rising, feeling like something would happen to her if I didn’t get there soon. It is so hard to read what the doctors actually mean sometimes- was this a true emergency- was this the end- or just our reality for the foreseeable future?
When I walked into Mom’s room, she lit up like a Christmas tree. As she always does, she pointed to me and told the nurse, “That’s my baby! That’s my Neese.” I held her hand and kissed her forehead. She looked weak, showing a noticeable decline from yesterday. She kept trying to talk with me through the mask, setting off the alarm that notifies the nurses that her oxygen has dipped. As we sat together, she told me, “I don’t want to live connected to machines- that’s no life.”, shaking her head sadly. I told her that I was going to talk with Hospice today, and that I would make sure that she could choose what she wanted, rather than doctors choosing for her. She looked at me with so much trust, and my heart swelled with love.
Dan has been swamped at the theater with a new show loading in and rehearsing, often not getting home until 11pm or later. He slipped away from the theater to have a quick lunch with me in the hospital cafeteria, and then went up to visit with Mom. He has been so stressed all summer with craziness at work, and yet he still does his best to be there for me and Mom. He is one of the kindest and most compassionate human beings that I have ever known. Mom was so happy to see him, and she made us laugh when we embraced, saying her usual, “Oooh- romance! I love romance!” I know that all of this brings back difficult memories for Dan, who has lost both of his parents. Dan has told me that each loss we experience brings back every other loss we have ever experienced…I know this is true.
I sat next to Mom all day, holding her hand and talking with her, getting better at understanding ‘mask talk’. The phone rang several times, calls from my cousins, friends, and my aunt, wanting to talk with Mom, wanting to tell her goodbye if this was truly the end. Hearing their sobs when I took the phone back broke my heart again and again. I was touched that so many people wanted to reach out to Mom, such a beautiful thing…but so difficult to bear. Each person that I spoke with today, each person that showed kindness, brought fresh waves of grief. I am at peace with what will happen, I know it is life…I just miss her already, so much.
Mid- afternoon, the Hospice representative came. We had a wonderful talk, and I feel a great sense of peace that this is the direction that we are going. St. Martin’s has said that they can only take Mom if she is transitioned off of the BiPap and moved to a CPap, so I hope that is what happens. No matter what, I think that having Hospice involved will make this experience a much more peaceful and beautiful one for Mom and for us.
When I left Mom this evening, I took her hand and told her I loved her. She grasped my hand, looking into my eyes, and said, “You’ll never know how much I love you…you can never know,”. The tears streamed down my face, I squeezed her hand, and assured her that I knew. I love you, too, Momma. Never doubt that. I will look for the beauty in this precious time, each experience blossoming with unexpected gifts. Let the blessings flow.