One of my sister-in-laws lost her mother this past week. I have had a sudden rush of sadness come over me as I realized what she must be going through. I remember all too well, flying home and being with my mom the last few hours that she was here on earth. She was in a coma by the time I arrived, I had never seen anyone in a coma, I have always heard that they can hear you so I tried to talk to her like normal. I was scared, saddened by how much weight she had lost and by the smell in the room. But I knew that I needed to be with her and let her know that she didn't have to do this alone. I was there and as soon as I told her why I came, she began what they call the Death Rattle. I listened to her struggle to breath like that for almost 12 hours, it was a long night and even though I wanted more than anything for her to just magically get better, I also wanted her not to have to suffer too long. I don't actually think she was suffering at all, they had morphine going in her 3 different ways. I think the suffering was being done by my dad and I. Dad was hurting so bad that he couldn't even be in the room with her, I was afraid of that and so I knew I needed to go home and do this with her.
I prayed in my heart the whole way there, would I be strong enough to be able to do this? I wondered in my heart... how do you ever prepare yourself to lose someone as important as your mom? Who do I call on my hardest days? Who will I call for help with my recipes? Who will I talk to about my children and other concerns as a mom? Who will worry about me or know me any better than my mom? How do you go your whole life without a mom?
As I think of my sweet sister-in-law, I wish that I lived closer to help in some way. I know that she is probably holding up well right now. The first little while you are running on adrenalin and shock. There is a lot of family around, a lot of support right now. There are letters, cards and flowers coming in...which are all a reminder of love and support from so many. The toughest days though still lie ahead of her. The days when all the phone calls stop. The days that there are no more cards in the mail. The day that she wants to ask her mom about a certain recipe. The day when everyone else seems to be going on with their lives and you don't want to, at least not without your mom. Yes, those EVERY DAY MOMENTS are the hardest I think.
I read a sweet story from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, it is long and I won't share it all with you tonight but will give you the title and the author in case you want to look it up yourself. I will also share with you the quote that came with it and the poem from the mom to the daughter. The jest of the story is that her mom got cancer, for a year she fought the battle but now she was losing it and while she is in the hospital room with her mom, she keeps remembering some of their fondest memories as a family. Most of which took place at the beach near their cabin at the ocean. Then her mom passes away and they are at the beach holding her funeral service there where they sprinkled her ashes on the water, as she requested. Here is the end of the story...
"As the funeral concluded and people began to drift away saying words of comfort to my father and me, I stayed behind to say my final farewell to Mother. I carried her favorite shell that brought her so much comfort while she was in the hospital and unable to hear the sounds of the ocean. I put it to my ear and the sound of the ocean seemed almost muted. I looked into the shell and was surprised to find a piece of paper stuck inside of it. I pulled the paper out and read its words:
To my daughter, I will always love you and be with you.
A name in the sand will never last,
The waves come rolling into shore high and fast.
And wash the lines away,
But not the memories we shared that day
Where we have trod this sandy shore,
Our traces we left there will be no more.
But, wherever we are,
The memories will never be far.
Although I may not be with you,
Know that my love for you will always be true.
Those memories will last forever,
And in them we shall always be together.
Hold them close to your heart,
And know that from your side I will never part.
As I crossed the beach, I stooped and wrote my mother's name in the sand. I continued onward, turning only to cast one last lingering look behind, and the waves had already begun to wash my lines away." A NAME IN THE SAND by ~ Elizabeth Stumbo
"Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." ~inspired by an Eskimo Legend