The nearest friends can go
With anyone to death, comes so far short
They might as well not try to go at all.
No, from the time when one is sick to death,
One is alone, and he dies more alone.
Friends make pretense of following to the grave,
But before one is in it, their minds are turned
And making the best of their way back to life
And living people, and things they understand.
–Robert Frost (from Home Burial)
My mother died this morning. At home, peacefully in her sleep. These past two weeks had been a struggle for her but she kept on fighting. It was heartbreaking to watch her fade away each day. She had stopped eating, drinking, and using her oxygen and become verbally non-communicative. But until yesterday I could still see her “in there” behind her eyes and there was a spark of recognition when friends and family members came to visit.
The best night occurred last week when her sisters from California were here. She was surrounded by people who loved her and she seemed to really perk up. She actually made a little speech about what’s important in life and she said all that matters is love. Mom told us to always love one another and everyone else we encountered. When it was done she smiled and said, “well, I guess I gave a sermon”. Mom was clearly loving having her family with her, that’s for sure.
She deteriorated pretty quickly after that. She lost the ability to speak, but still would lift her arms and offer hugs to any and all takers. Later she was reduced to moaning and grunts and all we could do was administer morphine and keep her as comfortable as possible. She would still make eye contact and I sensed a pleading for help, but there was no help I could provide other than stroking her head.
The last days watching her lie there fighting for breath was heartrending and we could only standby watching her suffering. This morning we woke to find her at peace at last.
You know, I have always feared dying alone. So I thought it was a good thing that mom had family around her at the end of her days. But I also observed that no matter the circumstances, we are all going to die alone. Mom was physically alive, but she was also already gone to some other unreachable place. I can only hope it was comfortable and pain free there.
Thanks for all the love you so freely gave me mom.