Thursday of last week started normal enough. Kids were packed off to school and kindy in the morning, I went to work and then back to pick up Maddie and go visit Mum. Same as most days. Except this wasn’t like most days.
As soon as we walked in the room I realised something wasn’t right. The nurses seem to be in multiples and they were setting up a CD player next to her ear. One nurse in particular greeted me with “I’m glad you’ve arrived, your mum’s breathing has changed, I’m afraid she may not have long”.
See I’d heard this before, a fair bit to be honest, but even I knew, by looking and listening that this was a different situation. Mum literally did not breathe for 20 seconds. Then she would restart what really wouldn’t even be considered breathing, more like gasping for breath. 9 times she would attempt to breathe, then she would not breathe again for 20 seconds and then repeat.
I completely believe though, that Mum was no longer with her body. Call me a whack job, but prior to that day, we had always got a response. Even if it were just a slight moan. She didn’t respond to my hand, in fact she was cold and clammy and it was like someone had flicked the switch and her body was on autopilot. I think she was already gone.
So the nurses got my daughter and I set up in beds with hot milo and put the Arias on as background noise. Mum continued in autopilot mode with me counting the patterns and listening to the fluid that had obviously started to flood her lungs.
I had been told time and time again, “Oh it’s such a peaceful, lovely way to go” and “they just slip away”. Um no they fucking don’t. They (people with terminal cancer that require morphine to sustain the pain relief) basically drown in their own fluids. Sorry if that’s confronting, but it’s the truth. So luckily, Mad fell asleep and after nearly 9 hours of Mum struggling, she finally gave in. She got her wish; she had us with her when she finally passed on.
So now begins the week of organisation and making DVDs with pictures of her life to music. It starts a week of bizarre conversations about cremation procedures and buying clothes that will now fit my withered and tiny mothers body. It begins the many many phone calls to people I barely know and the ones I know all too well.
The saddest for me was to watch my son, Sam, deal with the news. Instantly he burst into tears. It was horrific. He cried for 2 straight hours and cradled photos of her whilst begging for her to “just come back to us grandma”. His heart is too little to be broken.
Thank you to all who have left me messages of love and support. I do genuinely appreciate them all. Amazing the love that comes out of places I never even imagined existed.