There are many things in this world that are not nice. That are not kind. That don’t have good intentions. My mother was none of those things. My mom was the embodiment of everything good about mankind.
She passed away in her sleep yesterday at 2:10 am after a 40+ year battle with Multiple Sclerosis, and an 11-month fight against liver cancer. Cancer is always a giant eff you, but the fact that she would drink maybe two glasses of wine a year made the liver cancer diagnosis all the more irrational.
After much hemming and hawing about her health, we decided to go on our vacation to Los Angeles on the 28th after she had seemed to improve recently. We visited friends and went to the wedding that was the purpose of our trip. We were on our way to Legoland on Monday when my sister called saying Mom had been unresponsive and had a 104 temperature. I immediately switch my return ticket to that evening, and within a matter of hours, Bennett and I were at the San Diego airport anxiously waiting to board.
The next few days are a blur. She’d get better, she’d get worse. She’d have a good few hours and then sleep for the rest of the day. At this point, she was in a hospital bed in my parent’s living room. We were by her side constantly. She was always surrounded by love.
Thursday she asked to go outside, and my sister and I wheeled her out. She wanted to look at the wedding photos from each of our weddings, and Bennett sat on her bed with her. Friday she seemed to accept what was going to happen and started calling people to come over to say goodbye. She face-timed with her best friend of 57 years on my phone, and they had their moment that left us all sobbing. We talked to the boys (dear God, thank you for the helpful social workers at Hospice who were able to guide me in that conversation), and Jack, my nephew, and Bennett trooped downstairs to tell Grandma they loved her. Without prompting, Bennett crawled up her bed and kissed her square on the mouth.
He of course then proceeded to stick his finger in her mouth and make silly noises, but what are you going to do?
After her day of farewells, she slipped into a sleep that she never emerged from. There was just peace and some delicate snoring. My pastor came on Saturday with pizza and to answer Jack’s many questions about heaven. He then said a prayer over her that was so comforting to me. We made sure she knew we were all there, loved her, and that there were people waiting for her on the other side.
I went to bed at my normal time on Saturday, and thanks to my tiny infantile bladder, I was up by 12:30 am to use the bathroom. I climbed back in bed, and then popped right back out and headed downstairs. I could tell immediately her breathing was different than it had been the night before. I grabbed her hand under the covers, told her I was there and she wouldn’t be alone. And then I sat there and read the news on my phone. Right around 2 am, I knew something was changing. I called my sister to come back to the house. I woke my dad up and went back to my perch by Mom. Due to Dad’s fake leg and other busted leg, he isn’t able to pop right out of bed.
My Mom passed peacefully in her sleep. I was holding her arm and telling her over and over how she wasn’t alone and to just let go.
We are all managing as well as could be expected. We’re drained and sad, but so grateful for the time we had with her, especially over the last few years. Having her just a few steps away has been a dream both for our family and the boys (including my nephew). She had the kindest soul and never had a cross word to say about anyone. Her gentle but firm demeanor made her the kind of teacher that could get through to the most troubled of students. She loved being a teacher and helping kids.
She is gone too soon, but the world was better off for having had her in it.
Hug your family tightly, tell them you love them and make the best memories you can. Life is precious. May we all have more love than disappointments in our lives.