My sweet mother ended her life journey here on earth on Christmas Day at 3:27 pm. When I got the news I reacted with quite a variety of emotions.
Tears, of course, because I will miss her every single day.
Relief that her body is no longer holding her captive and failing her.
Joy that she is finally reunited with my Daddy and enjoying what I can only imagine is a wonderful reunion with all her loved ones who have gone before.
Sadness that the pandemic prevented me from spending so many hours with her this year including her final hour.
Amazement that she left us on Christmas Day and that was her ultimate gift – being able to end a life well lived on a day that is cherished and honored by so many. To be honest I just had this feeling in November that Christmas Day was going to be “her”day.
I am forever grateful to all of you who have followed me on my journey with my mom. It’s hard to put personal stuff out there at times but it has been very therapeutic for me to share here with the hope that one person will be helped by my words and my mom’s journey through dementia over the years.
I am VERY grateful to the staff of Crandall Medical Center and Hospice of the Valley for their incredible care of her when family could not be there. I will be eternally grateful to Jeremy who helped start the process of facilitating a face to face visit for our family the week of her death. I am so glad I kept asking and pushing for that.
I got the notice on Tuesday morning that the family was allowed to visit with the following guidelines: 2 people for an hour after having received a negative rapid Covid test, fully suited up in PPE and being escorted to and from her room. Two hours later we were on the road to Ohio and split the trip up with a stay in West Virginia overnight. My sister and brother in-law visited Tuesday afternoon with my brother Chris and his wife visiting that evening. My niece Carla came on Wednesday morning and we had the 3 pm time slot. My brother, Mark, who lives in Arizona would not be able to make it.
Fully suited up in gown, booties, gloves, face mask and shield we walked the halls to the second floor. As we passed staff they greeted us fully knowing why we were there. Our attire gave it away. I saw many familiar faces that I have come to know over the years as my mom had spent time there recovering from various things. It was comforting to see that some of the staff was still there.
When we reached her room I knew the signs that she did not have much longer and I was so very grateful that we were able to be there by her side. I did feel that she felt our presence even though she could not tell us that. I told her I was the last visitor and that she was very popular but that we saved the best visit for last. “Smile”.
End of life visits are so different for everyone I imagine. My brother and sister in law sang Christmas carols. My sister read the Christmas story. I shared a lot of memories, assured her of what a great mother she had been and gave her my permission to let go. As I read Psalm 23 to her I felt that she heard me reading those words of comfort. I will always treasure that hour with her. Chris said the most beautiful prayer that I will always hold in my memory. I was so blessed to be there. Did I cry? Of course and that mask will never be the same but those tears are all part of the process, aren’ t they?
I will allow myself to grieve however I need to do it. It will come in waves and at unexpected times. I know this. I will embrace those emotions and allow myself to just be in the moment when those grief waves hit. That is the best gift I can give myself. I am going to take a little break this week from posting on It’s Just Life but I will be back.
Thank you all for your love and support – I feel it across the miles and know that many of you have experienced similar losses this year. If you would like to read my mom’s obituary you can view by clicking here.