Things left unsaid
Thursday, January 12, 2006

My mother passed away on February 1st, 2004. She had gone into the hospital on November 12, 2003, with heart related problems. She never came home.

My sister and I lived in that hospital. We ate there so much that they gave us an employee discount. Every day was routine. Work, hospital at lunch, back to work, home to pick up my son, back to the hospital, back home to drop sleeplessly into bed. Staring at the TV, willing the words to make sense or for my body to just shut off for a few hours.

Days blended into weeks which bled into months. The only time markers were the medical emergencies that seemed to happen every other day. My mother endured seven surgeries during her stay.

The holidays made marionettes out of us. We jerked and moved to the ministrations of an expected society, but they were empty gestures.

Most days we would go into my mom's little cubicle room in ICU and the lights would be dimmed, sounds hushed but for the beep of monitoring equipment and the whispers of the ventilator in my mothers throat. Even the sounds of the staff were muted, as if the whole ward was wrapped in cotton. We had our favorite nurses and our not so favorite ones, but most were known to us. More intimate in knowledge then we ever wanted a stranger to be to our family.

The last day in January I held a death vigil, even if at the time I didn't know it. It was a Saturday and my sister was taking a break and coming in a little bit later that afternoon. Something was different today. I could taste it in the air, feel it heavy on my shoulders. She wasn't doing well. All the usual noises were made, tests taken, words blurred till I began to feel a bit like Charlie Brown talking to an adult.

My soul was exhausted.

My sister and I took turns sitting with my mother that day and through the night. Leaving her side in shifts to sit in the waiting room with other families to let the TV numb our nerves.
A new nurse came on with the evening shift. One we had never had before. Who was this interloper into our pain? Who was she to think she could come in and speak to us. Didn't she every word spoken felt like agony?

She turned up the lights. It was as if I was awaking from a long restless sleep. Her dark braids threaded with grey made a humble crown about her head. She worked with dark, aged and gentle hands while soft gospel hymns expelled between quiet breaths. She asked us about our mom. Who she was. Who we were.

She listened.

She spoke of her family, her faith.

She brought us music.

She set up a small CD player by my mothers bed and staffed it with songs of hope and reward. She was like a balm to the jagged edge of our wounds. She spoke of her church with the affection of a favorite family member. I longed to go with her, to sit, to feel the peace that she radiated. When she left, the dawn was spreading it's wings across the windows of my mothers hospital room.

In some ways I believe she helped prepare us to let mom go. To open doors for her that we were afraid to unbar. I never told her thank you. My mother left this world that morning and I have never been back to that hospital since. I like to think she knows what she did for my sister and I. She helped make the unbearable...bearable, if only for the day.

Thank you.

Blogger Mike had this to say:

Hi, Thanks for stopping by, Nice Blog!

7:37 PM, January 12, 2006 

Blogger kari had this to say:

This is a beautiful post and one, unfortunately, that I can relate too. I lost my Mom not too long ago and feel very fortunate to have spent as much time as possible with her in the end. Hugs Sweetie.

8:12 AM, January 13, 2006 

Blogger katehopeeden had this to say:

That was a beautiful post. I got chill bumps.
I know how you feel...
I'm glad ya'll had the time with her.

9:09 AM, January 13, 2006 

Blogger KaraMia had this to say:

Mike, thanks, any time...

Kari, It's hard huh. I'm sorry about your cat as well. It's never easy to lose that one soul that loves you no matter what.

Kate, Thank you, I miss her every day.

12:45 PM, January 13, 2006 

Anonymous Pearl had this to say:

How touching to have aid in unbarring that gate.

2:30 PM, January 27, 2006 

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