My mother passed away this week. I know it’s not entirely unexpected, but in the end it was quite sudden. It was peaceful, though, and she was in no pain, and for that I am very thankful.
We had both been a bit unwell this week and all my caring duties had fallen in a heap. We’d talked about how impossible it was for us when we were both sick, and agreed to get more home help. I was on the phone to the district nursing service one morning when Mum called out to me from her bed. I was quite short with her which I will always regret. I guess because I was busy, barely capable of standing up myself let alone making phone calls and looking after her. Anyway, she said she was having trouble breathing.
They tested her blood and said her gases were all over the place. Apparently her lungs were just completely shot – from decades of smoking and from the cancer having zapped every part of her body of the strength it once had. Her body was holding on to carbon dioxide and not getting rid of it in the right way.
The doctor in emergency said she was going to die. Actually he didn’t. He told me a bunch of medical stuff and I said: “She’s going to die, isn’t she?”
Me: “How long?”
Doctor: “She may only have a few hours. She might have a few days, or may be even weeks, but I doubt it.”
The rest of the day is a blur. I rang a friend to come and be with me, and a friend of Mum’s to be with her. I regret now not ringing more of Mum’s friends, even though she said she didn’t want to see them. But the look on her face when she saw this one friend – she just lit up. It was so beautiful to see.
I talked to Mum. The doctor had, too. She knew. She said it was her time. She was sick of all the medical junk she had to put up with, and totally and completely sick of her body. She was so thin and frail and could hardly do any of the things she once did.
I told Mum I loved her. I told her she could go when she was ready. That I would be ok, even if I’m not. I told her she could go but not to do it in the emergency department at the bloody public hospital which was full of people detoxing and drying out.
She wanted to go home. In the end it just wasn’t possible. I’m torn between beating myself up for not getting her home and realising that she was just too sick.
They transferred her to a lovely room at the private hospital across the road. They set up a bed for me to stay if I wanted. She had a few mouthfuls of food at dinner time, but started choking on phlegm and junk. They started suctioning and carrying on and it was very distressing for me and Mum. She pushed them away. I told them to stop.
They gave her some medicine to make her breathing a bit easier. She was sleepy after that, and at some point slipped in to unconsciousness, I think. I’m not sure. I don’t really know about these things.
A friend came in and we sat by Mum’s bed eating lollies and laughing. Mum would have liked that. Much more than the tears and stuff.
Shortly before 4am I woke up, looked over at Mum and saw her breathe. For whatever reason I went to the toilet, with plans to check on Mum afterwards. By the time I came back, she was gone. The nurses said they were just there, too, and she was ok. And then not. Gone. Just suddenly gone.
There is other junk that happened, like Mum deciding at the last minute she wanted to change her will, and me spending hours on the phone trying to organise this and then realising Mum may be wasn’t competent enough. She was fully alert and everything, but kept falling asleep and changing her mind about things and that didn’t scream “legal competence” to me, so I let it go. I can fix that up later.
I feel completely lost. I am trying to just put one foot in front of the other, but even that is a gargantuan effort. I am completely and utterly shattered and lost.