It was a strange moment. As soon as the phone rang, before even checking my phone, I knew who was calling at this hour and why and yet it didn't seem possible that what I'd known all along was going to happen - and dreaded all along - could really, truly, finally have happened.
For just the snap of a fleeting moment this felt like the recurring dreams from my childhood,
Of course she'd been dying for the past ten days. The Sunrise staff and the hospice nurses told me as much, though it wasn't necessary, I could see it for myself. I sat with my mom for hours every day as she drifted uneasily in and out of some vague consciousness. I talked to her, held her hand, pulled up her favorite music on my phone and held it close to her ear. I held my phone in front of her face and Facetimed her with relatives, though she appeared unaware of any of their screen presences, or mine very much, for that matter. But then I guess it hasn't been determined of what and to what degree a person might be aware when their mind has moved on but their heart is still beating.
Sometimes my mom lay calm and still, but more often than not she moved her arms or legs as if in a restless half-sleep, or as if she were trying to get up out of the bed. Often her eyes were open or half-open. I wondered where my mom was. Sometimes I asked her. Was she suffering? Was she in distress? I couldn't stand to see her in this state. And yet I didn't want her to die. I didn't know what I wanted.
But, of course, I did know what I wanted. I wanted my mom to return, to open her eyes, to sit up, to smile and get out of bed. I wanted her to be herself again, the self she'd always been, the self she was just last year.
The day before my mother died one of the Sunrise nurses stood by her bed and said, "Your mom moves so much because she never liked to sit still. She was always up talking to people and trying to help people. She would help feed people. If she saw one of the residents crying she would go to them and try to get them to stop. She was always trying to help the care managers with their work. Now she doesn't want to lie still."
Yes, that sounded like my mom.
Yes, it seemed like there should have been.