Friday, December 01, 2006

The Fastest Year




Thanksgiving came and went last year. I hadn't been in my parent's home for Thanksgiving for several years, so it was ironic that I was there, cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family, while my mom was in the hospital. There was wariness that she'd die on Thanksgiving or on my brother's birthday, which was several days later. Her death would be sad enough without connecting it with ritual celebrations.

I spent Thanksgiving cooking in her kitchen instead of going back and forth to the hospital as I had for most of the week. She lived for another eight days, dying on Friday, December 2nd, 2005, one year from tomorrow.

Tonight marks a year since the last night I spent with her. That night, my dad went home to sleep, so mom and I were there alone together from around 11 PM on Thursday night until around 5:30 on Friday morning when Dad came back. I spent a lifetime in those in-between hours. I cried, I held onto mom's hands, I summoned nurses as her oxygen levels dropped, I turned out the lights and put my head down on her bed, the staff adjusted the monitors so they would no longer alert us of her slipping away.

Dad and I were there together when she took her last breath. We held her hands as her breath grew shallow, and then ceased all together. The last monitor, which couldn't be set low enough to not go off, signaled a heart rate that soared and then steadily dropped... 260, 220, 180, 130, 60, 20, 0....

I'd never before witnessed death of a human being. I felt it somehow right that I was there with both her and my dad as she slipped away. It was a time of silent sadness.

I'd taken pictures as the sun rose that morning. Her last sunrise. My last sunrise with a mom. My dad's last sunrise with his love. The room was bathed in an orange and red light for a few minutes that morning, then it lifted. The sun shown bright and it was a new day.

I miss you Mom.

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