Over the last several months, I’ve found myself in a similar position as that of my ancestors prior to me. The reality that a loved one’s life will be ending. Of course we all know that death will be the final outcome for all of us and for all of those we love, and when it is an expected death, we generally have the knowledge we can say our good-byes and have one last visit. The expectation is still very difficult to face as we begin to second guess the doctors’ treatments, the guilt of not being there more often, or for not having more control over everything.
Guilt usually plays a larger part than we like to think it does. Should I have called more? Should I have tried to visit more often? Should I have made sure all the final arrangements were made? Should I have made sure all the legalities were addressed? How long do the questions continue? For what length of time should I dwell on the negative?
Not wanting to seem unfeeling or cold or that it didn’t matter, I had to put the guilt aside almost immediately after my mother’s death. I chose to live 900 miles away. I did call every day. I couldn’t have taken a more active role in her health care unless I had lived closer. Now, the legal stuff – well that’s another question altogether.
Thanks to my sister (especially), my mother was able to die at home – just where she wanted to be. She did not linger on for days and days – something she truly did not want. She had her family at her side – obviously what she wanted. And she wasn’t in any pain and was very peaceful – something she had hoped.
Knowing death is imminent and being there when it happens, is two very different things. However, we were able to rejoice that she was no longer suffering; no longer fighting to hang on to life where the quality had decreased; no longer frightened of death. As Christians, we know she is with our Lord and Savior, and is now one of our many Guardian Angels who has gone on before us.
I have extended my sympathies to others who have lost a parent. I have dealt with the loss of a sibling. Yet, until the loss of a parent happens to you, there is no amount of empathy you can have – because you have not felt that pain or loss. It has been almost two months since my mother passed away. I miss talking to her each day. I want to tell her about my daughter’s new home, the heat we are experiencing, or how ridiculous I’m discovering the legal system can be – but I can’t do that in person anymore. I really am okay – even though some have told me that I’m not okay. I know where Mom has gone, and I know she is with me each day. I know she’s in a much better place. Will I miss her for the rest of my life? Of course I will. But being okay is what she would have wanted for her family.
I owe my mother thanks for the courage I have found in the face of her death. Due to the strength she had modeled for me amidst the storms life had thrown at her over her lifetime, I found my own strength to prepare for and move forward at the time of this crisis.
Coming: The Journey (Part 2)