My mom has passed away. It has taken months to process my feelings about the year I spent at her bedside and the reality of her departure. I want to mention a few insights.
My 94 year old mother spent a year in bed after she broke her hip. She was cared for by experienced caregivers who knew what to do as her body failed. I had hoped that it would be a meaningful experience for her. Perhaps a time when she could think back over her life and come to terms with some of what did not go well for her or others. After all, I’d heard of deathbed conversions. Sadly her dementia grew worse as her body failed, and there were periods of time during which she couldn’t communicate with me. Perhaps some of those insights came then but I think not. Occasionally, she lashed out at me and the caregivers.
I think she mostly felt just pain. A few weeks before the end, the hospice nurse and I figured out my mom wasn’t telling her caregiver about her pain, which meant she wasn’t getting the extra medication she needed. That part of this experience makes me feel the worst. I had promised her that she wouldn’t be in pain while on hospice. I lied.
Not only did I lie to her but I feel guilty because I never felt unconditional love. I did feel compassion and the desire to help her but the problems we’d had over most of my life kept that unconditional love at bay. However, I knew she did the best she could.
During one of her lucid moments I told her that her brother and her mother were waiting for her on the other side, hoping that this incentive would motivate her to go to a better place. She said, “They’ll have to wait a long time.” She believed, up until the end, that when she was gone, that would be the end. I didn’t give up. I told her to come visit me after she passed and she made a face. So far, I have no sign that she has been here. No pennies found. No grand coincidences. No glimpse of her standing over my bed as I fall to sleep. Her memory does stay with me when I do the things she loved like looking at jewelry, shopping for clothes or planning for a trip. I miss her.