My mom died on May 7, 2011, somewhat suddenly and out of the blue. She was 75 and died about 1/2 hour before Mother's Day began. She had been feeling unwell for a while but with Mom that wasn't unusual. Like her own mother, who had been a registered nurse herself, Mom hated to go to the doctor. She put it off as long as possible. When she finally went to her appointment on Monday, May 2nd we figured the doctor would prescribe an oxygen tank and she would breathe more easily and go on for several more years. But the doctor discovered something called atrial fibrillation and sent her to the emergency room. Mom was admitted to the hospital and given tests and oxygen. But from the first day she went downhill fast. My last real conversation with her was on that Tuesday night. By Wednesday she was mostly sleeping and couldn't really converse anymore. She knew Kevin, Keith and Francine when they arrived on Friday but she couldn't really talk anymore by that time, which was heartbreaking for all of them.
Turns out her carbon dioxide levels were rising fast and this was shutting down her system. Her breathing problem wasn't just that she wasn't getting enough oxygen but that she wasn't exhaling enough carbon dioxide. Once she started getting lots of oxygen she started building up lots of CO2. And that was pretty much it. Mom never wanted a breathing tube so while they might have been able to extend her life with breathing apparatus she woke up enough to fight them when they tried to put the mask on her face. Once we knew there was no coming back for her, we let her go, all of us (Dad, me, Michael, Kevin, Francine and Keith) spending the day in the hospital's special room for terminal cases. We alternated between crying, talking and laughing and Mom slept her way peacefully into the next world. One weird thing to me was that when the end came none of us cried at that moment. It was all so calm. And so sad.
Meanwhile, all the rest of life goes on: you still need to make dinner, do the laundry, keep the family going, etc... But you do it with a different spirit. Nothing is ever the same and yet it is.
My son, a grown-up 18-year-old, is just starting out on his life's journey. That journey hasn't taken him from our house yet, as he attends the local community college and lives at home still. And now he's driving, having received his license last week. I am a nervous Kelly, but all will be well.
My years of active motherhood are over right about the same time I lose my own mother. One of those cosmic coincidences. Now I need to figure out what the next years of my life will be...stayed tuned for further developments on that front.