Friday, January 1, 2010
She was in hospice care, at home, succumbing to Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) and COPD associated with the CHF. While on oxygen she was completely lucid and planned her entire funeral with us! (Yes, she really did!) She said she wanted everyone to wear black because it was the best way to honor the dead. She told me that she wanted to be dressed in black, she said, "because it is the most appropriate and most dignified color for a woman of my age."
As she was weaned from the oxygen (the 25 liter/min concentration she required to maintain normal O2 saturation was not feasible to continue, nor did she want to...) she asked me to make sure to paint her nails. She told David that she was not afraid and that she was ready to go. She told him that her brothers and sisters had come for her and they were waiting for her. We knew that. She had been talking to them Sunday a week before, both in her sleep and while awake! That was both cool and creepy at the same time, I must admit!
In the remaining 3 hours of her life, as we sat with her and helped ease any suffering with sublingual (oral) Morphine, I found myself midwifing her across the threshold of this life and into the next. Her transition was similar to women who give birth... she needed us right there, touching her, soothing her, and offering her melted ice cream and a cold cloth to her lips. I said similar phrases: "Its alright..." "You are doing just fine..." "We are right here helping you..." "Just let it happen, you are gonna be just fine." "Its okay to cry..." "You are a wonderful mother!" "That's right, that's good..." And as the end was near, "Let it happen, just go on, let it happen! You can do it." And she did, she passed across that seemingly impenetrable plane and became new again. How bittersweet it was to hold her, stoke her hair and midwife her as she died.
I learned a lot from Corinne that night. I learned that I have the capacity, somehow, to be strong and resolute, even amidst my own sorrow and during painfully sad moments. I learned that a dying person deserves to be honored and to have dignity in their final hours. I learned that strangers CAN be both the worst and the best resources available to you. I learned that hospitals and hospital personnel don't do death any better than they do birth. I learned that I can stand in the face of death and not be afraid. I learned that there is peace and serenity in death. I learned that my future may very well be in hospice and palliative care.
Rest in Peace, dear Corinne. You certainly deserve the break!
(Click on the above sentence to view MaMa's SmileBox memorial.)