The days leading up to moms final moments.....
Updated: Feb 6, 2022
Since they told us December 13th 2021 that mom had only 1-3 weeks to live once we started her pain protocol. I have been by her side almost daily and on Sunday January 2nd 2022 mom had rapidly declined and I made it pretty clear to dad that I was staying that night, I wasn't leaving mom. So we made the call and got as comfortable as possible ordered in food ( thank you door dash!!) I on moms lazy boy, thankful I packed a blanket and dad got somewhat comfy for the night on a bigger chair we borrowed from the living room of moms cottage. Because of covid visitation was shut down... however we were lucky to stay with mom as much as we wanted and make sure she was never alone. I could never forgive myself if she passed and we weren't here!
She was holding on for what I'm still unsure to this day. By the Tuesday the 4th we decided to go home have a quick shower and pack a few more items, I as an over packer packed for about 5 days this time and dad packed two. The whole time we were gone my anxiety was on a all time high I just needed to get back to mom. I had a talk with her before leaving and told her to behave and not go anywhere, luckily she listened and was still with us when we got back!
Now let me tell you about the worst sound I've ever heard and its what they call the death rattle. I really don't know how to describe it however once you hear it you will never forget it. Another horrible sound mom started making this was on the Wednesday night before she passed her breathing started to sound like an oxygen tank I didn't like it period, I suppose you can call that a bit of a death rattle to. I asked the nurse about moms breathing and she let me know it was another sign things were progressing and they were coming to an end.
A day I will never forget, January 6, 2022 at 7:21am mom took her final breath. She died peacefully with myself and my dad on either side holding her hands. I knew exactly when she passed even though we were waiting for her to breath again. Mom being her cheeky self was tricking us a couple times, however the last time I knew, I looked at my watch and 7:21. 7:21am will be in my brain for life now. I went to get the nurse. Gemma went to grab her stethoscope and came right back in. For what felt like forever after listening to moms none beating heart she checked her eyes, and then the words you never want to hear or are ever prepared for... I'm sorry she's gone. I broke down immediately and felt a comforting hand on my back. Our nurse I'm thankful she was the one in that day she had been with mom since day one! Letting it sink in for a short bit I climbed into bed with mom. It was the most comforting feeling. Some may think its weird or why I would do that but its what I needed at that moment. I knew dad didn't want to but he finally agreed to take my picture, not of moms face cause she really wasn't looking good at the end but from her neck down. I will truly treasure that photo for the rest of my life. I stayed in my moms room with her well her most wonderful caregivers did her final care, even though they were not the original ones from move in day. Mind you they are pretty awesome and I've enjoyed getting to know them as well. Well mom was was receiving her final care, she was treated like they treated her any old day with love, respect and dignity. She was dressed in a pink hospital gown and it made me happy, a much brighter cheerful color than the yucky hospital blue one.
It was extremely important for me to not have mom left alone, till she was picked up. Dad had asked me before mom passed if I was wanting to stay till she was picked up? Without a second thought I was like i'm not leaving her came out of my mouth. He knew she would be in amazing hands however in my heart I knew I couldn't say goodbye until they took her away. Dad couldn't get through to the Brain Clinic he had 2 numbers so I said give me one and well tag teamed it. I couldn't get through on the number, I went to google found the clinics number it was different and I called that I already had it in my phone however I got right through and gave the phone over to dad. The UBC brain clinic then called for pick up of mom to take her to VGH the hospital where they could take her brain out for donation so they could do research on it.
It was now around 11ish and the transport finally came. The gurney came in the room and dad and I kissed mom one last time goodbye. The transport lady who was very professional and kind asked if we wanted to stay and I shook my head and dad said yes. I was hugging dad as she then started to get the gurney ready. I was fully expecting a black body bag, however to my surprise it was white, that made it seem a little easier, I'll never forget the next few words that came out of her mouth... This part isn't going to be easy! Boy was she correct I was bawling by this point I could feel my whole body shaking, they started to pull mom to gurney rigor mortis had already set in. Once mom was placed on the gurney her hands were together on her stomach and she looked extremely peaceful. Taking one more look at my mother of almost 36 years, knowing I would never see her physical body or be able to told her hand, kiss her forehead or have a cuddle ever again. Moms body bag was finally zipped up still shaking and bawling they then place a blanket over the bag and then The Village has a special blanket that they use for all the villagers who pass away. It's an oatmeal color with a big red heart that goes at the feet it was so beautiful. I could hear drift away playing as they wheeled mom out, I swear if dad hadn't been hugging me I would have collapsed. Drift away was the song I choose to have played well they took her to the van, it holds very special memories for me of mom, and I thought it was the perfect song. They asked if we wanted to join the staff and watch her drive away we stayed in the room. I find it amazing all the staff working they all line up and watch the Villager who passed be placed into the van and usually will start to move a bit when the doors close however I was told they all stayed till they could no longer see the Van. This made my heart burst cause I knew just how much mom was loved, and that's all you can ask for when you put your loved one into a care home. Knowing she was so loved made all the difference!!
Now what do we do?
Is this actually real life right now?
The staff all came back into moms room after she was taken away to see how we were doing. I had just stopped the tears and as soon as I got a hug I lost it again. You could feel the love around and I knew mom would be missed they loved her!! Cause of Covid you weren't "suppose" to really hug the staff however I got hugs so did dad. It was very comforting and exactly what was needed. The head nurse/manager came into see us and of course we got more hugs and we chatted for a while. Dad was in and out on the phone he hadn't really been off the phone since Mom passed. One of the care aides came in to tell me a past care aide who I was very close with was out in the parking lot to see me. I was given a massive hug and we chatted a bit then one more hug and back to dad. We sat for a little longer and finally decided to go home. Taking our life with us of the 5 days we had been there also some of moms clothes so we didn't have as much to move out the day we cleaned her room out. And off in the snowy yucky weather we headed home.
For anyone who has never had to deal with a loved one slowly dying before your eyes count yourself very lucky. Anyone who has been there with there loved one on the last days, last hours, last minutes, and seconds... I am sending big hugs to you!! Whether its from cancer, a horrible accident or Alzhimers being with your loved one watching them die SUCKS it straight up F***ING SUCKS!!! I will say mom is on a pain protocol meaning that she has pain meds every 4 hrs now keeping her comfortable and sleeping. As long as she isn't in pain i'm happy.
As much as it sucked to watch mom take her final breath and no longer be here. I wouldn't have changed being there for anything. I can live my life knowing mom wasn't alone in her final moments and she was surrounded by so much love!!