It was Thursday night, I got a call from my sister Elana, she said you better get down to the hospital. I was not too worried, mom had been having a bit of panic lately, maybe she was having a panic attack? I took the last bus at 11:45pm in the pouring rain and arrived at the hospital amid the chaos of a fatal hit and run accident right in front of the emergency room. I made my way drenched and dripping to the ER. The receptionist told me my mother had been transferred to the ICU. I realized this was no panic attack. I made my way up to the ICU and Ana was waiting, she seemed just as confused and scared as I was. She told me they would come tell us when mom was settled in her room and we could go see her.
When they finally let us in mom was sleeping with her hands and feet strapped to her bed. The Dr arrived and told us that mom has suffered a stroke, an intracranial bleed. He showed us the CT on his computer. There was an area of blood in her brain. I had no idea whatsoever what that meant. They removed the straps from her hands and feet. Mom could not move her entire left side. He worried that her lungs were not working and after an assessment decided she was breathing well enough on her own. Over the next couple of days mom seemed to improve. She was up and talking. She had no cognitive damage. Her words were slurry because half of her face was paralyzed. But she was appropriate and her memory was intact.
The neurosurgeon came to visit the next morning. She said they did another CT and the bleeding had not stopped. She said "the damage your mother has sustained is permanent". She told me she has decided not to do surgery because she would not be able to fix anything and the chance of a bleed out was very high. She said there would be another CT in the morning. She said goodbye.
The next CT showed the bleeding had stopped. Finally. Since mom's blood pressure was now stabilized and she was swallowing and breathing on her own, they moved her out of the ICU down to the neurology floor. We were all excited, this must mean she is improving. Once there mom stopped talking and being appropriate. for the next couple of days the only thing she wanted to do was sit up. Its all she said and all the tried to do. She became extremely agitated and it was all we could do to try to comfort her ... and to help her sit up. An around the clock schedule of loved ones sat with mom and tried to persuade nurses to give her more medication to help her relax. We were desperate for communication from her Dr about the future and a plan for mom's care. That finally came on Tuesday at noon my brothers birthday.
We gathered anxious to find out moms medical status and to make a plan for her recovery. The Dr arrived and sat down and began to explain mom's injury. He told us mom was no longer swallowing . He said it was time to insert a feeding tube and make arrangements for long term nursing home care. He asked us if we knew what her wishes were. That moment we all began to cry uncontrollably because we all knew without a doubt. Our mother missed no opportunity to tell each of us in no uncertain terms that we were NEVER to let her live like that. Dependant on tubes, in some nursing home, with somebody wiping her ass. Oh boy we knew very well what her wishes were, so we just sat there and cried and cried. Happy birthday Adam.
Dr Ameen was very compassionate and caring, he promised us he would keep mom comfortable no matter what. At least we were comforted with the knowledge that mom would no longer be thrashing and agitated she would finally get some rest. And while it took several scuttles with the nurses and some stern reprimands by the Dr. she finally did. For two days she rested and slept. I spent every possible moment I could by her side.
On Friday as the parade of people stopping by to give her their last kiss filtered through Samantha stopped by. Samantha had not seen mom in many years, but got word that morning that she was dying and came straight over. The room was full of excitement as mom's old and dear friend began communicating to mom's spirit who was standing in the corner of the hospital room. People were full of questions, and anxious to tell her how much they love her and have appreciated their time with her. Samantha was happy to translate. Eventually things quieted down and we were alone.
As I lay my head on my mommy's chest I cried. I thanked her for being my mom. I thanked her for waiting this long before she died. I told her everybody would be ok. I could feel her worry. In fact I could feel everything she was thinking and feeling. We spent 2 wonderful telepathic hours together. I could tell her breathing was getting more sporadic. I could sense her trying with all her might to stay there. Samantha and I tried to convince her it was ok to go now. But she refused. She continued to take labored breaths until finally the door opened and in walked my sister. At that moment she stopped. We felt the most tremendous sense of release and joy I have ever known. My phone rang and it was mom's sister Lila and then the door opened and it was my brother Adam. And there we all were together. Mom I know you were in absolute control of that entire day.
I have lived in fear my entire life of the day somebody so close to me would die. I made it 40 years before that day finally came. I expected to be so completely devastated. I had severely underestimated my mother. This was the most beautiful, spiritual, exhilarating and fulfilling experience I have ever had. As the full harvest moon rose in the sky she slipped away. I will never forget that day. I will always cherish everything she gave me and her best gift of all was her last one. Thanks mom, I love you ...