Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy Birthday to Her

If cancer had not cheated her, I would be baking the kick-A$$ chocolate cake she loved so much and we would be having a big dinner, celebrating the day of her birth 63 years ago. We lost her, my dear MIL, in March 2005 and still miss her every single day.

I wrote this after watching her slip away:

You were alert, numbed by the meds that first day. A blessing beyond words, you knew your family, your grandchildren, your precious sons. The morphine had made your speech slurred and your eyes “off” but you knew us and you held us and you loved us one more time. As we left you, hopeful hearts looked forward to days when unknowingly only hours were left.

The next morning greeted us with a ringing phone, one that held ominous and yet painfully truthful news. “She’s going to the angels today”, your brave youngest son related. The time passed in silent, heavy-hearted thoughts. “I need to be with her one more time”, words were uttered through teared eyes, pushing the pedal down a little further. Your son, silent.

Hurried and rushed, through the hospital doors; hands held in support, hearts not ready to be broken, desperate for one more priceless moment. The scene in your room so different from the day before. Lying in your bed, loving eyes half-shut and fogged. With every labored breath a moan ever so gently spoken. Two shocked and saddened hearts, each rushing to opposite sides of your bed, grasping your still-warm hands, audible cries muted slightly by the white sheets that enveloped your fading body. Hands gently touched shoulders from behind, “she’s in no pain”; the gentle voice comforted.

The vigil continued for hours with you never alone for a moment. Someone was always there, talking to you, gently coaxing you to the other side, reminding you of the great love that rested in so many breaking hearts. Your mother, brother, a sister, a son, a daughter-in-law…your guides on this journey. As the hours passed, each aching soul shared parting words of thanks and love and praise. At times the gentle moans sprinkled with words. Words trapped never to be known. Your faithful guides shared alert yet confused faces with one another, desperate to pay homage to your final thoughts, wishes, fears. A priestly visit, a head anointed, The Lord’s Prayer in unison.

It came quite suddenly, this end that had been slowly creeping in. It was greeted with dread and a sad joy that you were being released. The constant sounds to which the room had grown accustomed had stopped, although life somehow was clinging to your ravaged body through gentle, gulping, interrupted breaths. An arm was extended and suddenly your faithful guides were, in a blink, at your side. Your face was child-like and all sets of hands were upon your body. Words were filling your ears, “we love you, mom”, “it’s okay, mom, let those angels take you”….”save room for us up there, mom, it’s gonna be awesome!”…”I love you my mommy, my most wonderful mother”, tear-laden sobs warmed your neck.

“Love you” breathed from your mouth, the same mouth that for hours could only speak in slurred, inaudible speech. It was your final expression of love coaxed by a sobbing heartbroken son. From a body overtaken by pain and numbed by morphine, in your last moments, you sought to comfort this son…the one you knew whose heart is so easily broken but not led to words.

His words, your words. The room was weeping.

Your body held lovingly, tears staining your bed, desperate, love-filled words still ringing in your ears. It was in this moment of perfect love that life slipped away.

You had escaped the body that betrayed you and had joined the waiting angels.

It was perfect, beautiful, peace.

The fact that death can be beautiful was a surprise to me. It was. She was.

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