Saturday, May 5, 2012

Only Forever

 I have been sitting and looking at this photo, which is from before i was born. It's a photo my Mom gave my Dad, and as she so often wrote to him, "only forever."

Tow weeks ago, my Mom passed away pretty suddenly, she was 91. The two qualities that really defined her were her willingness to reach out and help other people, and her tenacious desire to be independent.

She had been battling rheumatoid arthritis for quite a few years, and though sometimes a challenge, i viewed my responsibility as to assist her in living as she wished., not as i thought "safest."

And things went well till late Wed evening when we had to call 911. She made it to the ER but was in "medical terms" desatting, simply put, short of breath from a cardiac event.

The ER offered to put her on life support and she said, "no, its time for me to join your father" (my Dad transitioned in 1986). I asked her to consider allowing me some leeway on her advance directives, and she did allow the doctors to do some treatments.

It is interesting that in Hospice we so often talk about families "not on the hospice page," and i found myself thinking that sometimes, people rebound from cardiac events and maybe we could get to "rehab."

But two days later things had declined and she couldn't eat or talk very much, since when she took the oxygen mask off she got short of breath. We talked with the Hospitalist and Hospice doctor about options, "Mom you can make it to rehab if you wear the mask all the time" and she said "no, i want hospice." Both doctors thought this was best.

We moved to the Hospice unit after my Mom signed her own papers. She was mentally clear, and she was giving me a whole slew of instructions, who to call, where things were, what to do, but mostly she was talking about joining my Dad.

She got a little bit of medication to be sure she was comfortable, and we were surrounded by my Team, so different for me not being the doctor in charge, just being family .....

Lauren helped her take her mask off, she didn't want to wear it anymore, and i just held her hand. It was so calm and peaceful. She passed unconscious after awhile and we all just waited ..... and at one point spirit moved me to kiss her forehead and say to her, "Mom, Dad's waited long enough, you can go now." I could in a spirit way, feel his presence, its hard to explain that in words.

She took a huge deep breath, let it out and she was gone ......

She never seemed to suffer. It was tranquil and peaceful. And we can still perceive the gifts from people who love us...... only forever.