As mum was dying, her fingernails turned a delicate shade of lavender. As I watched, the lavender crept up her fingers until they were all the same shade. Brynne was holding her hand. I knew exactly when Brynne noticed the colour of her fingers and realised what it meant. She broke down. Her nana might have still been breathing those harsh and painful gulping breaths, but everything that made her nana, my Mum, was gone. There wasn’t enough oxygen to run her higher brain functions. Her body was sending the oxygen to her heart and lungs, struggling to keep her alive. Once the blood oxygen had gone under 50%, I knew she was gone. Long gone. Her body just needed a chance to catch up on the news.
Poor Dad wasn’t able to stay longer than 20 minutes at a time, because it was too overwhelming. It was nearly as bad watching him grieve, and the rest of my family grieve, as it was to watch over her. I gave her a foot rub. I recited poetry to her – she nodded her head when I asked if she wanted me to keep reading. We played all her favourite music – bless Spotify! I sang her the little songs she used to sing to us as children. After she had passed, I was allowed to pick her up and hold her. It felt like a hug from her, even though I knew it wasn’t.
I had this overwhelming urge to pick her up and run several times during the days and nights. Like we could outrun her death. The nurses told my sister that they had never seen so many people grieving in the ICU. We made the nurses cry.
I want my brave mother back.
I never knew it took as long to die as it did to get born.
Mum was a solid place in the world. With her gone, I feel like a yawning pit has opened up beneath my feet. I could slip into it at any moment. I was bereft when we lost Granddad. With Mum, I feel like I’ve been murdered in everything but my physical form. Cut away from the world. Walled away from joy. Left with nothing but bitter ashes.
My heart is scalded to a blister, and even though its so painful I want to scream, I know the real agony is before me. I’m still numbed and shocked. I’m still waiting to wake up from this terrible dream. Oh, how it is going to burn when the days and weeks stretch ahead without ever having her with me, ever again.