Saturday, February 3, 2018

Rounding the Corner

It is clear my mother is entering her very last stage of life. My visit to her today was accompanied by my sister and her husband, Luis. The staff told us my mother was active throughout the day, but they just laid her in bed at 4 p.m. so she could rest. She was awake enough to greet us, but she kept darting in and out of sleep.

Hospice tells us that she is withdrawing from the world and that she is beginning her separation. She is closing down to everything outside of herself and going to a place inside where she is sorting things out and evaluating her life. This inner place has room only for one.

The processing of one's final moments are done with closed eyes and increased sleep. Hospice tells us that it is not just sleep, but there is a lot of work going on inside that we "outsiders" cannot know. This is a time in which my mother needs to communicate with us less. Words are a connection with the physical life that she is leaving behind. Words lose their importance, but touch and quietness takes on more meaning.

Over the past two months, my mother has picked at some of her clothing and seemed to be grooming her clothing. Sometimes her actions seemed aimless. Her focus is shifting from this world to the next. She is leaving her connection to this earth.

She was hungry when we saw her. Very hungry. We offered her a variety of foods and she liked some and dismissed others, but ice cream remained a constant positive choice. She enjoyed a vanilla ice cream cup by Hood.

We chatted about her Ma and Pa and I showed her a picture of her mother. She said, "Awww. She looks so beautiful," to which we replied, "And you look just like her. You are beautiful too." She smiled.

We showed her pictures and talked about family. Since she was still hungry, my sister went to make her some saltines with peanut butter.

During the time away, I sang to her a few songs: Yesterday, and she hummed along and said it was beautiful, My Eyes Adored You, by Frankie Valli, and a few other songs. She sang along half in this world and half in the other.

I massaged her head and said, "You know. It is OK to go now. It is OK with us. We love you and we miss you." She nodded her head.

I continued, "Ma said she wants to see you soon." Her eyes opened and she said, "Was she here?" "Yes, with Pa. " "They both were?" "Where were they?" "They were just here and they are coming back," "To here?" "Yes, to see you."

"And Dawn Mari too. And Betty. They are looking forward to seeing you again. They miss you and it has been so long since they saw you. Does that seem like a happy place?" "Yes."

"I want you to know we love you, we will miss you, we thank you for being our mother, we forgive you and ask you to forgive us. And all your sins are forgiven, and Jesus will be there to take you to your family."

I felt sad, and I stroked her hair.

My sister returned with the peanut butter and crackers, but my mother had lost her appetite. We talked with her a bit longer and made sure she was comfortable. She looked so restful in her new airbed. We spent some time saying goodbye and letting her know we loved her. We whispered it back. "You are going to stay here?" "We will always be with you."

Be at peace. May God bless you and keep you.

Death reminds us that life is to be lived well.

Here are some photos of my mom when she woke up, and of my sister, Sharon, and her husband, Luis.

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