Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Sounds Silly but I Never Thought Mom Would Die

August 7, 2012...
I arrived at the hospital around 9:30 PM after my sister had called me to let me know that Mom's condition had worstened. Mom just looked like she was sleeping. She was breathing loudly. Her breathing sounded almost like she was moaning at the same time she was taking a breath only it wasn't really a moan. The sound she was making was undescribable and loud. Mom seemed to be struggling to catch her breath. She was sweating a lot and we could see her heart beating quickly through her hospital gown; pounding really. Her heart would pound so hard that her bed would vibrate. Her body was fighting to stay alive.

Soon the apnea set in. I timed it. She would stop breathing for 30 seconds and everything was silent. I could see her heart pounding even harder and her bed would vibrate. At one point I placed my hand on her chest over her heart to feel it, it was pulsating so fast. After 30 seconds she began gasping for air again and this would last for a little bit longer than 30 seconds then she would stop again.

Dad, Camille, and I would take turns sitting with Mom, holding her hand, cooling her down with a cold, wet washcloth, stroking her arm, her hair, begging her to stop fighting so hard, that it was okay to go. We promised her we'd be okay.

I began to text my husband, David and some friends. I was in a panic. Mom seemed to be struggling for breath and there was nothing we could do. The nurses reassured us that this was all normal when someone dies and that the person is not actually struggling but it didn't make me feel any better.

Soon Mom's two sisters came....Margaret Bromley and Beverly Bromley. Margaret sat with Mom, held her hand. Beverly kept Mom cool with the cold, wet washcloth and would fan her. Both talked to Mom, told Mom how much they loved her. I can't remember everything they said but I'm sure they also said their good-byes.

Mom's caregiver Diane O'Neil was also there. She also comforted Mom. Diane was a wonderful companion for Mom for the last 6-7 years.

My niece and nephew also came, Lyndsey (21) and Nick Estes (15). They would look at their Grandmommy and cry but I don't think they could talk. They both were so very sad.

This went on for hours! Pure agony for all of us!!

I think it was sometime around 3 AM that the gargling sound began when Mom would breathe. I knew exactly what that was. The term for it is the "death rattle". The Hospice nurses would come in to reposition Mom and it would get a little better but not for long. They started really pumping Mom with more Dilaudid and whatever else to keep Mom out of pain. Soon she sounded better and I felt that I could finally go home for a couple of hours to get a little rest. I thought that I had about 4-5 more hours. At about 4:30 AM I told my dad and sister that Mom sounded somewhat stable for now and that I was going to head home for a bit but would be back by 8:00 AM.

I arrived home around 5:00 AM. I looked at the clock when I climbed in bed and it said 5:10 AM. I closed my eyes but couldn't sleep but I did get some rest.

The phone rang at 6:10 AM (one hour later) and it was Camille. All she said was "she's gone". I think all I said was "she is?" then told Camille I was on my way. David sat up, I told him what Camille said and told him that I needed to go. He wouldn't let me go immediately because he said I needed to get my emotions out. I think he was afraid to let me drive at this point. I didn't even cry for the first minute after Camille had called because I was numb and I don't think it really sunk in.

Suddenly it hit me and I mean like a ton of bricks. I don't think I have ever cried that hard in my life. I sat in my bed, in David's arms for a good 10 minutes (at least) and just sobbed. Wade, my 9 year old son, woke up because he heard me. He came in and asked why I was crying. I told him that Marin died. (Marin is the grandmother name my kids gave to Mom) Wade climbed in bed and hugged me too but I don't think he ever cried.
Soon after Wade came in Emma, my 11 year old, came in and asked the same thing. We told her that Marin died. Emma began to cry and also climbed in bed with us.

After a few minutes we all got dressed and headed downtown to the hospital. I called my sister and told her to please not let them take her until I could see her.

((Below is a picture that Dad took of Camille and me with Mom a couple of hours before she died. We didn't know he took it but are glad he did. It was a special moment.))

((I snapped this picture, below, of Camille and Dad sleeping sitting up in the room with Mom. I don't think of these pictures as terrible, morbid moments. I think they are precious moments in our lives.))

((Dad comforting Mom))

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