Written 13 Feb 2008, the day after my mother died.
Sometime over the past year, my mother and I talked about dying. Being a former nurse and having been there at that moment for so many others, she wanted to know how I felt about that. I told her that it was a blessing. My answer confused her. How, she asked, could sitting next to someone dying be a blessing.
I told her that, regardless of religious views, the moment of death, just like birth, is special and I was blessed to be allowed to share that. I was able to help someone, if by nothing more than holding a hand, at the time they needed someone most.
These thoughts came to me again tonight. I spent the last 48 hours at my sister's house. At the bedside of my mother while she was making that last journey.
We tried to sleep some Monday night, my sister in the bed next to her, I was on the couch across the hall. About every two hours, we woke and talked. And laughed. And cried.
I went home briefly and was back for the hospice nurse's visit. She stayed and talked with us much longer than her usual visit. When she left, we realized it was because she was waiting for mother to die. Day turned into evening. Again, her breathing became erratic. We called the hospice nurse and she came within 30 minutes. The three of us sat around my mother. The nurse and I were in chairs, my sister in the bed with her. We held her hands and, at 10:40 in the evening, my mother took her last breath. I looked at that hand in mine. It was the hand that spanked me when I ran into the street and it was the hand that comforted me when the latest cute boy didn't show up at our house. It was the hand that held mine when I was in labor with my daughter and after my son was born.