The following are excerpts from my journal that I finally felt ok enough to share. Today is a heavy day, these are heavy memories but we are surviving and still finding the joy in things.
May 17th, 2020
I can’t sleep. I have to kill my mom today. My mom is currently in the ICU, on the vent, she’s been there for almost 3 weeks. Her lungs are not working they can’t do anything else for her. Her body is failing and it would be misery to let her continue to struggle. So now we’ve been given the impossible task of ending her life support at 3pm. I am beyond heartbroken and dreading every second of today. I am sick to my stomach with dread. I have to kill my mama today. I have to make the call to do it and I’m devastated. “we can do hard things” keeps playing in my head. I have to kill my mom today. I don’t know if I can do this hard thing.
We are heading to the hospital to turn off Mom’s ventilator. My Dad is dressed up, so am I. We all seem so uncomfortable today. Like our clothes don’t fit right. Really we just want to be anywhere but here. We aren’t talking, no one can think of anything worth saying. The whole house is full of dread. I feel like I may puke any minute. My brother and Charissa are here too. He’s usually joking but has no one liners for us today. It’s too quiet for all of us but we don’t have the energy to fill the silence. She’s trying to make sure we all eat, she hasn’t stopped working since she got here. She stocked the house with food. She bought half the liquor store. She’s packed a bag of essentials for the hospital. It feels like we are going to war. Walter is trying to keep me steady but he doesn’t know how so he just keeps squeezing my hand. I’m so glad Charissa is here to think for us because my brain isn’t working anymore and she knows what to do without me telling her. She’s making sure we are ok even when we aren’t. We are loading up in the car and we look like we are going to church as a family. It’s no church I want to go to But I hope God is there.
My mom passed away. James Taylor was playing in the background.
Watching someone die is nothing like the movies. They didn’t remove the vent and she just suddenly coded and died. No, that would be too quick, too painless. Instead, they remove the vent and push pain meds and heavy drugs and you watch FOR HOURS as your loved one does what they call “guppie breathing” gasping for air…for hours. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t seem peaceful. Each breathe becomes more labored, more shallow, longer between each filling of the lungs. You sit there for hours, almost 3hrs in our case before they take their last breathe. And as the end draws near you think each breathe is it, so you sit crying, holding her hand, saying you love her frantically over and over while her favorite album plays in the background. You say I love you so many times it starts to sound like a mantra, you become numb watching the heart monitor as it stops and starts, dips and rises. Each time wondering if this is it. It’s truly enough to make a sane person lose their mind. And then eventually you start praying for God to take her. As much as you want her to stay you know you can’t take anymore of this so you pray for it to end. And then it does. And you regret your prayer. You say your finally goodbyes and ache in places you didn’t know existed and you walk out of the hospital with your mother’s soiled clothes and her clunky ipad…but not her. You leave her in this building with strangers and you climb in your car and you wonder how you will keep moving.
May 17th, 2021
It’s been a year. It still doesn’t seem real most days. I’m ok. We are ok. But that hole doesn’t go away. Little by little hours turn in to days, which turn in to weeks and you start to remember you can do hard things because you keep doing hard things and surviving. You find something each day to focus on that’s not your grief and you keep swimming. For your husband’s sake, for your daughter’s sake, for your mother’s sake and most of all for yourself. It’s been a year and it still feels so heavy but it’s a weight I can carry now. We miss you terribly mom. Thank you for a lifetime of memories and most of all LOVE.