I went the day after the “transition” had begun. On my way, I tried several times to call my dear friend… I clicked on her name on my phone and wanted to call, and rehearsed what I was going to say, but I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t utter those words.
I was given a book to read. I hadn’t read the book, but I knew how it ended.
A sweet Hospice nurse greeted me at the door and told me in simple and plain terms what was happening. She gave me a book, What To Expect and suggested I read it. The days that followed have been some of the most difficult days of my life thus far and they left me devastated and broken. I knew it was coming, it happens to everyone and yet I was not prepared at all for the emotions and numbness that I would feel. The hours in those days seem to go slowly and drained every ounce of energy I had. I wept. I wept some more.
I began reading the book and followed it’s instructions exactly.
The book suggested you say goodbye and share memories and make amends. I spent hours sharing how I felt and asking for forgiveness and sharing sweet memories. I played hymns on the cd player. I prayed. I read scripture. I even sang to her. I apologized for losing her pearls when I was a teenager. I apologized for not appreciating her like I should. I apologized for not learning more from her. I asked her to forgive me for the times I was disrespectful. I thanked her for loving me and I thanked her for teaching me. I told her all the things I loved about her. I told her how she made me who I am today and I am so very grateful. I called her by the nicknames that we used for each other and laughed. I told her how I didn’t want to lose her. I told her the stories of our adoptions. I shared with her what each of my children was doing and how much they loved her. I brushed her hair. I held her hand. I kissed her hand.
The book said it could be days or weeks.
Day after day, I went and shared sweet times with my dad and my brothers. We cried. We laughed. We tried to prepare ourselves. I shared the book with my brothers and my dad and told them to read it. The book said it could be days or weeks. We made plans for what was at the end of the book. The days turned into weeks. We watched on as we watched the ending of the book unfold. This last chapter was a long one and we savored each and every second. The book said maybe it wasn’t time, maybe a goodbye needed to be said. So I shared that part with my dad and said he needed to say goodbye.
The book said we needed to say it was ok for her to let go.
In one of the sweetest moments of my life, I sat watching as my dad held her hand and said, “Honey, you know I love you so much, I think I’m finally ready to let you go.” Then he bowed his head and prayed for her, and told her how much he would miss her and how she was the best wife and mother and he was so glad he was her husband. He told her she didn’t need to be afraid, that she was about to receive her reward in heaven and he would see her there someday. He told her it was ok.
The end of the book.
Nothing could have prepared me for the call, the call that we needed to get there as soon as we could, her breathing had changed and we needed to come quickly. On our way there my brother called. He told me that another call came, we were not going to make it, and that in the last pages of this spectacular ending of an amazing story, my dad spoke to her over the phone and told how much he loved her, that was the last thing she heard.
My mom had died.
After a long battle with Alzheimers’s Disease, my mom was gone. All along I knew how the story would end. The book helped me say goodbye. The book helped me use every second I had left with her. I am grateful for Hospice and the care they provided for my family and how they loved on my mom, until the very end of the book.
The next chapter.
Death has become part of me. I can no longer touch my mom’s hand and whisper in her ear. Although we may have got to the end of the book, there is another chapter. I am still grieving my mom’s death and miss her but I have HOPE, because of how she lived her life and who she served, her memory is fully restored and she has gained her heavenly reward. In my grief, I have learned that I am now writing the next chapter. In this chapter, my children will learn of their Nana and hear of her wonderful life. In this next chapter, I will carry on who she was and I will tell people about the amazing mother and wife and friend she was. I will make sure that this chapter is one that I pass on to those I meet. I will treasure each and every memory of my mother. In this chapter, I am changed, because of the wonderful life of my mother.