Tuesday, February 3, 2015
It's all in the way we view life.
I've been hesitating to write this post long enough. The week before Christmas 2014 was for my family a very difficult life experience. It was a time of giving of ourselves, receiving from others, hoping beyond hope, despairing when hope was failing us and so many emotions that I cannot put a name to. The week was advent week for the rest of the world around us, a time of expectant hopeful joy and celebration. For me and mine the advent week was a time of watching and waiting for the end of life as we know it for my mother. It began with a telephone call telling us that mom had had another stroke. She was in a comatose state, with her right side non functional. It would be for mom, as the doctor told us, her last. This one was going to end her life. How long the process would take was anyone's guess. We were versed in the progression that mom's life would take from then on. This was my first experience as a participant in the palliative care unit. The end of last year was a great learning experience for me. I was privy to the process we call dying.
What does one do? How does one begin to face the inevitable? My mother was on her death bed and there wasn't a single thing I could do to change the outcome. As we, her children and spouses rallied by her side there was a sort of transformation that took place in us. I noticed that there was little concern for the regular activities of daily life. There was a shift in our personal priorities. Mom became the focus of our attention for the rest of her life.
Mom regained consciousness and was aware of her surroundings and the people that were attending to her needs. I recall during one of my awake sessions with mom that I was doing for her what she had so lovingly done for me as a baby. Mom was totally dependent on others for her every need. What transpired in that room in the seven days before Christmas was for me a Christmas miracle.
I have spent time revisiting the events of that week and the many blessings that accompanied it. I for one have always considered such time as dying, but to my surprise I witnessed mom living every moment of those last days. I saw her smiling at my sometimes stupid jokes, clapping hands to music and welcoming everyone who came into the room to pay her a visit. We reminisced those moments we had with mom over her life. I've come to the conclusion that she wasn't dying at all but living every moment until her last. She probably knew that her life was nearing an end, but I don't know that for sure.
That week before Christmas was a long hard week with tears and many heart wrenching moments as we tended to mom's needs. I think that the best way to express the experience of the week is to say that we walked mom home. She arrived safely at the door of her new home accompanied by those who considered her worth the effort to see her not alone in her final hours.
To my sisters and brother I am ever grateful for the accompaniment during what would have been a most painful time alone. To mom's brothers and sisters also go a heartfelt thank you for their time on mom's epic journey. As difficult as that week was I consider it a great experience.