I promise happier posts are coming. I'm working on a post about my mom. I've referred to her on my blog, but I've never shared anything about her. I'm going to try to scan some pictures of her and tell her story here soon. Mainly for my girls to read one day. They still talk about their Granny and they sure do miss her...
And so do I.
Four years ago tonight was one of the hardest nights of my life.
I was sitting at her bedside, holding her hand, listening to her groan with every breath, waiting for each one to be her last. She had lung cancer that had gone into remission but came back quickly and with a vengeance. She also had a heart attack a couple of weeks prior while she was in the hospital with pneumonia. She came home on hospice and died three short weeks later.
The day she came home from the hospital, we had a hospital bed in her room and a bedside commode. As I helped her off the commode, she put her arms around my neck with tears in her eyes and said, "I never thought I would get this bad". It. Broke. My. Heart. I knew she would get to that point, but she didn't want to accept it.
Just three days before she died, on Tuesday, she began to decline rapidly. Her pain increased, her breathing was more labored and we believe she suffered a stroke during her sleep that night. Hospice sent out a crisis nurse to stay around the clock with her. I went to her house on that Tuesday night after teaching a childbirth class. I debated on going because it was 11pm, but I'm SO glad I did. It was the last time she spoke to us. The next day when I went to visit, she was completely unresponsive. She wasn't responding to pain stimuli and had a foot drop which are both signs of neurological damage.
I had no idea she was in such a state or I never would have taken Emma Grace with me. I remember sitting on the other bed in her room with Emma Grace in my lap. She had just turned four. She kept asking me why Granny wasn't talking. I told her that Granny was very sick and would be meeting Jesus soon. Her response several times was, "No Mommy, Granny needs to stay here with us". Sweet girl.
The other noteworthy thing to mention is that my mom was insistent that she see the girls that Tuesday afternoon. As soon as Jessica got off the bus, we went over. They both climbed up on her bed and she loved on them and they on her. It was the last time. I remember feeling very inconvenienced by my mom's persistence because I had spent the day at her house (like I did every day), and I had to teach that night, but oh how glad I am that I took them. That was the last time Granny got to "eat them up".
She was unresponsive from Wednesday morning until the time she died, with the exception of a very short time. It was the middle of the night on Thursday night/Friday morning and the hospice nurse called me in from the sofa. She got my stepdad up from the guest bedroom because my mom had started stirring. I went beside her and asked her if we could see her pretty eyes. She opened them and tried to mumble something. We were telling her we loved her. And then her eyes closed. Not to open again.
The weather was beautiful on that Friday, and I kept telling her what a beautiful day it was to meet Jesus. None of the hospice nurses, nor any of our family, could believe she was still holding on. Even though she was a Christian, my mom was a very superstitious woman. I happen to believe she knew it was Friday the 13th and didn't want to die that day. She waited until 12:14am on Saturday, April 14th to take her final breath.
The end was not as peaceful as I had hoped. I won't go into the details just in case my girls do read this at some point. I hadn't wanted to be the "nurse" to take care of her alone at the end (even though my brother and stepdad were there, they relied on me to do everything), but our hospice did not have another crisis nurse to send out after the last one left at 8pm. It wasn't long after that nurse left that her hands started turning blue. I believe she didn't want a stranger in her home when she died.
I had a TERRIBLE experience with the on-call nurse. I had given mom some Morphine but felt that she needed more. She told me not to give her anymore Morphine even though she was groaning louder and louder. I was torn about what to do. If I gave her more Morphine and it helped, that would have been great. But, if I went against the nurse and gave her more and she immediately died, I would have to live with the fact that I "killed" her. Even though she was clearly dying, I didn't want to live with that for the rest of my life. So, I didn't give her the Morphine. And I should have. I still agonize over that four years later.
Her final breath was obviously very emotional for me. But it was more spiritual than I ever dreamed it would be. My brother was at her feet. My stepdad and I holding her hands. My brother said, "She's gone. Momma's gone". I checked her pulse and there wasn't one. I'm not sure what came over me, but I immediately started praying. There was intense sadness but the same amount of relief. Watching someone you love suffer is absolutely exhausting. She wasn't suffering anymore and for that I was grateful. As sad as I was, I felt peace that she was in heaven with Jesus, my dad, her parents and the others who had gone before her.
We called hospice because they had to send a nurse to "pronounce" her and ended up waiting THREE HOURS! The lovely nurse who was on call (from earlier that night) wouldn't return my pages/calls. Did I mention she got fired? Yeah. I usually don't take pride in those sorts of things, but her behavior and lack of respect for our family was heinous in my opinion.
In the time we waited, we opened the envelope where she had written her final arrangements. I curled up in the fetal position on the other bed in her room and cried. And cried. And cried. At one point my stepdad came in and looked at her. He said, "You and Eddie (my brother) have someone to go home to. Who do I have now?" Broke. My. Heart.
One thing I regret is that I wasn't allowed to tell my mom that she was dying. I'm not pointing fingers or placing blame, but others in my family didn't want to share with her the reality of the situation. Their thinking was that if she knew the truth, she would give up. This might have been true. But, I think deep down she knew. I regret not being forthright with her because I think all of us could have had some really healing conversations with her before she left us.
So, four years without my mom. Even though she wasn't always the most positive, encouraging, uplifting person in my life, she was my mom. And she loved me. And I loved her. A lot. And I miss her every day!
Thanks for enduring this. I needed to write it.