Wednesday, September 3, 2008

AV: I'll Stay Right Here Until You're Fast Asleep

I wish I had a better photo ... or rather, I wish I had a photo of my mom from inside my head. A photo where she was laughing or something. Instead, all I have is a photo of a photo of a glamour shot she had done because she both felt and wanted to feel beautiful.

My mom passed away on September 3, 2005 with three of her children by her side. That would be me and two of my brothers: Richard, the eldest and David, the youngest boy (but still older than me, the "baby" of the family). The middle boy, Mark, wasn't able to make it there in time due to transportation issues and severe dysfunction. But that's another story.

My mom lived in Oregon for the last years of her life, having moved there (following her parents and younger sister) from San Diego in the early 80s. I never dreamed that I'd be there when she died, but it all worked out that way. I always expected that I would simply get "the call." I really didn't think I would have the chance to say goodbye.

My mom died of complications from Hepatitis C, contracted through a needle stick that occurred during her over two decades as a Registered Nurse (15 of those years as an ICU nurse). My brothers and I had moved her into an assisted living apartment within the few years prior to her passing and had been travelling as able to be with her, meet with her caregivers, and do our best to manage her growing needs.

And so, living so far away from her, I never thought I'd have the chance to be with her. When I did get the call, it was to her bedside in the ICU of an Oregon hospital where she never fully regained consciousness.

We - my brothers and I - stood at her side as, after we removed the breathing mask, her spirit moved swiftly from her body. I felt it go fully two minutes before the machines did that thing they do on all the medical shows (which are frauds, imho).

If I could do anything differently, I would go back and hold her hand more tightly, and remind her that while it was okay to be afraid ... that she really had nothing to fear. I would have helped her make ready.

Darel, godspeed and save some of that cheesecake for me.

     Her apt door, with memorial notice.

   Memorial table
     My brothers at the mouth of the river to the sea, where we scattered her ashes. This happens to be the perfect capture of both of them and is a favorite photo for me.

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