Friday, September 14, 2012


It haunts me when I close my eyes to try to get to sleep. I've never told anyone. Ever. It's too painful. Recently though I've decided that I need to purge.

I arrived that morning, she had an oncologist appointment that I wanted to be present at. The nurses at hospice told me she was still sleeping. One of the nurses confessed that she had been gulping for air when she checked on her, so she had put a humidifier in the room. The nurse asked me if I wanted to go in and see her. I said no, "I'll let her sleep".

I sat patiently waiting for her to wake up, there was no rush, it was early. The appointment was later.

I was reading a book I think. People started rushing. I remember the thought that something had happened. Someone had died. It was a hospice after all.

I remember something about people asking other people what room to use.
I don't remember the exact moment someone approached me but I remember knowing what was going on, it came as no surprise. I know it was a woman and she asked me to follow her into a room. It was a small room, similar to an office, but it only had two armchairs and a side table with a phone. We stood in there and I already knew what she was going to tell me. I knew why they were running around, I knew why they took me to that room.

I don't remember how she told me.

I remember my reaction. I didn't have one. I was expecting it. I knew that she had died. I didn't cry. I just nodded. The woman asked me if I wanted to see her. I didn't answer right away. I didn't want to see her. I'd never seen a dead body before. I did think that it was probably the best thing to do though. It was the "respectful" thing to do. So I nodded yes.

She escorted me in and left me there. My mother was lying in the bed. Blanket still on her, she had been sleeping, her eyes were closed. Her lips were blue and open. I had seen them do it in movies, close a person's eyes, and mouth after death. I tried... Her jaw was rigid, it didn't move. It was cold.

I moved to the window and cried. I don't know how long I was there for. My sister was on her way. When she came, I tried to hug her, but she walked straight to my mother.

Days, weeks, months, even years later, I thought about it. She was sleeping, but she was gulping for breath. The nurse was lacking, she should have known she was dying. I should have gone in to see her when she asked me to.
Why were her lips blue? Did she suffocate to death? What was she dreaming about? Did she wake up gasping for air, did she dream about gasping for air or did she pass out first?


I wrote this a year ago or so. I've never had the courage to re-read it and actually post it but I think it's time. After I wrote it, it stopped haunting me. I don't think that publishing it will bring back the hauntings, I think that they'll stay put where they are. I'm glad I wrote it when I did, I'm also glad I didn't publish it. There is a time fore everything. Time to get over my fears. ~My mother died of lung cancer in 2006. She was never a smoker. I still miss her.


Steve Ryan said...

My mother was dying (cancer) at home. My father called the doctor. My mother was gasping for air and my father asked the doctor "Cant you do anything" The doctor said "Yes I could but do you really want me to and would she want me to "

I worked in a Hospice as a volunteer for a number of years and I found that at the hour/minute/moment of death there is no right or wrong thing that the their loved ones can do.

I later found out that my mother had asked my father to "help" her and he had. Perhaps he regretted it when the doctor came and then felt relieved by the doctors words.

Thank you for your post.

rachel-xx said...

I want to hug you so badly right now.

~neighborhood milf said...

Death is inevitable, they say, but it's never easy on the living. Sending you huge hugs.


Bella said...

I don't know exactly what to say, but feel compelled to say something. This was painful and raw to read. I am sorry for your loss and the haunting it left you with.

Ebony Panther said...

As one who just bared his soul about a similar situation, I can easily relate. When the call came, I knew exactly what had happened before I picked up the phone to have it confirmed.
My uncle was also gasping for breath when I saw him those last few weeks. I knew it wouldn't be long when the nurse said that he was running a temperature but they're dealing with it. That's code for "he has pneumonia & there's no way he getting out of this one so be prepped".
I've known for years that this was coming but to watch it actually happen is just gut wrenching. Someone who recently lost their dad told me that it's now the new normal. There was before & there's after. You try to move on & deal with it the best you can but it's tough. There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about my uncle & the lessons he taught me. He influences every decision I make now & sometimes I have conversations with him. They're comforting but not as much as knowing he was there.
Sending you arms to hold you & hug you for extended periods, lips to kiss you, & two shoulders to cry on. I'll email you later when I get the chance to say thanks for what you wrote to me.

Johanna said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm sorry it has haunted you, and I want to say that you're brave to write it down and to post it. I'm thinking that posting this perhaps means that you've come to terms... not with your loss, because that will always be there, but with your own reaction, on that day...? There's no right or wrong way to feel. Sending you hugs.

Malcolm said...

Posting this was a good thing to do, since it seems to have had a beneficial effect on you.

I don't think it is useful to "try to forget" the death of a loved one. The memory becomes easier after a while, and that's all that's necessary. Death has taken my mother,my father, four siblings and three of my children. It's ok, though, has to be.