Early the next morning, Mother’s breathing had become so shallow it was hardly recognizable. She had a quiet night but for a couple of days would not drink or eat.
I can not begin to find the words to express the helplessness I felt. Fear surounded us as we reognized that death was certain and soon. My father woke to see the severity of her condition and in a panic we agreed to call an ambulance.
We knew that she had requested not to return to the hospital. We knew she wanted to die at home but we just couldn’t honor her wishes. We were frightened.
As I think back on it now as unbelievers at that time, we were helpless and hopeless. When you think that death is the end you are hopeless. That last goodbye is so final.
The doctors worked quickly, nursing staff rushed in and out of her room for hours. Then the doctor came out to speak to the family. All of my siblings, myself and father got the report. “Call anyone you need to call she probably only has a few hours.”
That was a Sunday morning in May. We were all individually allowed to see her for a few minutes each. The doctor had informed us that the cancer was now into her brain and that she could not see nor hear.
A bit later that day, several of us were questioning the doctor. Her door was ajar to her private room and he was speaking loud enough for mother to hear. She must not have liked what he was saying and she forced out a single word in a tone that got all of our attention. “HOSPITAL!” A weak and frustrated demonstration of her disappointment.
When she spoke the doctor was speechless. From that point forward the family requested all conversations regarding her condition to no longer be discussed openly or out loud in her room. We quickly realized that she was able to hear and did not like being treated like she was already dead.
She lived on through that day and the next couple of days. She had five adult children, I was the middle child. We agreed to take shifts to sit with her round the clock. My younger sister, the baby of the family, could do nothing but cry and two of my brothers could not handle the conditions either.
This left myself, my oldest brother and dad to take shifts. Sunday turned to Monday and then to Tuesday and though Mother was lifeless and silent she was still alive. My aunt Joy, my father’s sister was needing to get back home to her family.
When I came to the hospital late Tuesday night to relieve my Father he called me out of the room into the hall. It was a brief statement he made before he departed to rest. He said that his sister Joy had requested that he allow a pastor to visit mom that afternoon. He told me one had been there, and then left.
My father was not a man that went to church. I was amazed that he had allowed it but he did. Joy was on a plane returning home by now, she had done all she could.
Mom’s room was very dim during the night hours on my watch. I sat in a chair by the head of her bed. She hadn’t spoken but the one word, her eyes were open, staring in a glazed over gaze at the ceiling.
She had been sick a long time. We had seen her through many stages but this one was final and we all knew it.
“These are the times that are hard to remember but needful not to forget. Moments that change and alter life as you’ve known it. Painfully precious moments you can’t forget, and always cry through when you remember.”
I had sat for a while next to her. I was rubbing her hand and told her that I was there and that daddy had gone home to rest. She had finally closed her staring eyes to rest them. The silence was overwelming. I knew it could be another long night and with only 17 hours of sleep in several days I fought fatigue.
Though she seemed incoherent I spoke, “Momma, daddy told me a preacher came to see you today.” What happened next was only mine and mine alone. No one else was in the room to experience it but mother and me.
She opened her eyes abruptly, turned her head toward me, and stared directly into my eyes and spoke in broken tone, as if choaking back tears, “He said prayer.” Tears welled into her staring eyes and splashed onto the pillow. I quickly responded hoping to have conversation with her. It appeared she could see and hear me regardless of what doctors were saying. “Oh that’s good momma” I said. Then she repeated in the same forced weakness,”he said prayer”.
Time stood still for a while after that. She closed her tired teary eyes to rest. The remainder of the night was silent. I rubbed her feet and hands and softly touched her forehead, brushing back her hair softly at the hairline. I stared at her face knowing opportunity to see it was fading fast. I loved her so.
The rest of the night was uneventful. My oldest brother showed up a little late for his watch and I left the hospital to rest at around 7 am.
Ms Linda Darlene