Mom has been gone for a week. On a morning much like today, bright and sunny with a slight chill in the air, she died at home. "Died at home" is comforting to me; although she never quite considered the adult family home her home-home. She had a lovely bedroom outfitted with some of her favorite things, precious photographs and framed art on the walls but her escalating confusion regarding place and time made accepting her living situation tough.
I wasn't with Mom when she died although I had wanted to be there. I missed her death by minutes having jumped in the car when a beloved caregiver conveyed by telephone that she wasn't "doing well" early on that Tuesday morning. Halfway there I had a call on my cell that she was "gone". Gone. And, my Dad didn't yet know. I rushed to get there with MM not far behind in her car.
I think we knew that her death was near the night before; we didn't leave the home until 9:30 PM even though Dad had gone to bed several hours earlier. He probably sensed her imminent death as well because unlike the other two nights that MM and I were with him, he decided to sit by her bedside the night before and hold her hand. I remember him asking her if she was cold, did she need another warm blanket and telling her that he loved her. He said, "I'll see you in the morning" and then he went off to his own room to sleep.
When I arrived at the home around 8:10 AM Dad was seated in the family room. He smiled at me as I came in the door and asked, "Are you going to check on Mom"? My heart was breaking. I knew I'd be the one to deliver the news. I told him, "Yes." and headed down the hall to her room. The caregiver gave me a hug. The card table and the puzzle we had worked on the day prior and nearly finished had been taken down, put away, and there was a sheet pulled over my Mom's face.
I've never liked the pulled-up-sheet business so the first thing I did was pull back the fabric and kneel down at the side of her bed. I didn't have long because the sound of his walker on the hardwood floors told me Dad was on his way down the hall to her room. I got up and met him just as he appeared in the doorway.
I told him as best I could and brought him into the room, his tears and mine raw edged. "It just happened, Daddy; she just died, just died", I told him. Somehow I wanted him to know that he'd not been kept in the dark. We sat next to her, holding her still warm hand. I held him. I held her. And when MM arrived it was the three of us together.
The events blur. There were phone calls to Houston and to my children. Text messages. The nurse arrived. The sunshine brightened her east facing window. Denny came through the door. Dad sat down in the chair diagonally across from Mom, quiet but watching everything. When Elaine suggested that we take Dad out for awhile, we decided to gather at their former home for lunch and time together. MM left with Dad and I stayed behind to fulfill a promise I made to my Mom many years ago. I waited with her until the last moment, feeling the life slowly recede from her body. Gone. Gone.
Where is she? I want to know and am waiting for the sign she promised to send me. MM says it may not come for some time. The impatient type, my faith stumbles in times like these. But I will open my eyes and ears and heart and wait.