Today would have been my mom’s 73rd birthday – if she hadn’t died 3 weeks ago. Mom had been under hospice care for 9 months, living in a nursing home. I was able to be with her when she died and I gained a great appreciation for those who provide comfort to the dying. I held her hand, wiped the sweat from her brow, stroked her hair and told her it was okay.
Earlier in the day, she had become fixated on a screw head holding up the bulletin board next to her bed. She wasn’t able to speak well at this point so we weren’t able to figure out why she was staring at it and rubbing it with her fingers. Did she see it as part of the gate into heaven, the face of Jesus, a shining light, or simply a point at which to focus while she put herself into a meditative state. I’d like to believe it was all of the above. When she finally fell asleep, I kept watching her chest moving up and down with her shallow breaths, the only indication I had that she was still there.
I sat next to the bed reading and 90 minutes later, she gave a heavy sigh with her voice and her last breath. I know that there were many others that would have wanted to be with her at the end, but I view it as one of the greatest gifts I have been given, to be alone with her, just like when I was born.