The Pain in the Passing

A friend of mine writes:

“Sitting with our Mother, my 3 brothers and I, holding her hands and telling her she can go now. I have fixed her hair, applied full make up, donned her most beautiful robe.

She hasn’t opened her eyes in 3 days.

Although while turning her over to change the bedding I rammed her head into the railing of the bed. Lets just say she can FEEL pain! It didn’t help that I did the same thing to the other side of her head as well.

And when clipping her toenail, I cut her toe! I don’t mean to do these things.

She told me once, ‘Colleen, you only hurt the ones you love. Please Dear, stop loving me so much!’

I tried Mama…I did.”

After reading her pained prose, I was transported back to the early evening my mom died. The memory brought with it an old pang of guilt that I thought I’d laid to rest years ago.

Alas, no.

Everyone was gathered around her bed, her tiny frame curled on her right side, when I suggested we reposition her so she could see everyone. None of use were certain that Mom could see by this time, but we all knew she could hear us.

After telling her we were all there, and that we were going to move her, Deirdre and took her bed sheets and as gently as possible, used it to roll her onto her back. That’s when the dreaded moment began — her heart went into a compensating state, rapidly increasing in its beating.

Within three minutes, she began de-compensating — her heart failing, each spike on the overhead monitor becoming longer and longer between sounds. Then there was silence, that awful, gut-wretching forever silence that one know means there’s no return.

For the longest time afterwards, I emotionally beat myself in every way possible, convinced that she’d have lived longer had I not suggested moving her onto her back. While still feeling guilty, I do realize she was simply waiting for us all to gather to say good-bye before she left this physical world for the next.

So, yes, sometimes we do hurt the one’s we love — but most times, especially in situations like this — we also hurt ourselves unnecessarily. In the end, all I can say is that Mom knows we did our best for her in her passing minutes, and both she and God loves us anyway.

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