Mom's Story

SHE WAITED
(1/26/07)


the last
few weeks
my routine
was to drive
to assisted living
directly after work
and let the home
health care woman
leave for the evening
before getting
Mom ready
for bed

she could
no longer move
of her own volition
or even speak
but she still
had slight movement
remaining in her eyes
and her eyes
said it
all

she was
so
very
tired

I would
lay her in bed
and draw the curtains
shutting out the
late summer
daylight
kiss her
goodnight
leaving the door
cracked just a bit
wanting her to know
that I was still
there

the staff was
accustomed to me
by that time
bringing my dinner
to Mom's room
so I could eat
watch TV
and make a few
phone calls
to family and friends
letting them know
how she
was doing

then
earlier than
I’d usually ever
retire for an evening
I would set the recliner
all the way back
cover myself
with a sheet
and go to sleep

there was
the couch but
that was where Mom
spent the day
and I didn’t feel
quite right
lying
in her place

that last night
her breathing was
rapid and shallow
eyes now
in perpetual stare
only her lungs
and heart
seemed to be
working

DNR
hospice care
all logical decisions
made by her
in better times
but seeing her there
I questioned
the concept
of dying
outside
the hospital
with dignity

I sat
on the bed
beside her
knowing that she didn’t
have much time left
and talked to her
occasionally
not knowing if
she could hear me
but not wanting to miss
the opportunity
if she could

I was determined
to stay there with her
until the end
but after
a few hours
I could no longer
keep my head
upright

I kissed
her forehead
told her
that everything
was going
to be fine
and that
I loved her

I fell
asleep
as soon as I
leaned back
into the recliner
and did not wake
until the light
of the morning
nudged me
to consciousness

I rushed in
to find her
still barely breathing
eyes locked
on the ceiling

she had spent
the entire night
that way

I couldn't
stay awake
but she hadn't
the choice

knowing
that the nurse
would soon arrive
I put on some fresh clothes
then changed Mom
in preparation
for her daily move
into the living
room

for the first time
her body didn’t stiffen
in counterbalance reflex
to my lifting
her frail form

her head
lay easily
upon my shoulder
and I felt her
faint breath
against
my neck

I wondered why
it couldn't have always
been so easy
to carry her

I slowly
lowered her
to the couch
and as I released her
heard one last
long exhalation

feeling
her expiring breath
upon my neck

knowing
that she
was gone

I sat down
beside her
watching her face
for any signs
of transcendence
but she seemed
the same

her eyes
still open
and staring

for the first time
I thought of
eye drops
and my eyes
began to water
at my negligence

the best
that I could do
at that point
was to
close
hers