Just days after the birth of our second son, my mom, Ruth, was diagnosed with the one disease that she feared most–ovarian cancer. We knew from that day forward that her life and our lives would never be the same.
Throughout Mom’s battle, she tried to remain strong, gaining her strength through the support of her family and the anger that she felt toward the disease. She never seemed to accept the fact that the disease was going to take her life, probably because she had a lot of living yet to do.
Two and a half years later, just ten days after the birth of our third and final child, Mom passed away. While her death created the worst loss I could ever imagine, my best friend left me with a vividly beautiful experience that will stay with me forever.
I had spent her last night sleeping next to Mom, holding her frail hand throughout the night and repeatedly peeking through puffy eyes to make sure she was still breathing. In the morning, we knew death was near, but didn’t quite know what to do for her. Her eratic temperatures we tried to control with medication, but to no avail. So I placed a cool cloth, that I repeatedly dipped in a pail of water, on her forehead, cooling her the old-fashioned way–the way she would have cooled me as a child. I realize now that I was not only comforting her, but comforting myself, wanting to help her through the transition process.
Minutes before her passing, my husband, our four-year-old daughter, 2 1/2 year-old son and ten-day old son came to Mom and Dad’s house where she rested in waiting. When I went outside to greet my family, our daughter came up to me and asked if she could go see Nana. I said that I didn’t think that was a good idea right now, recalling in my mind Mom’s weak, comatose body with only stubbles of gray hair on the head of a woman who hated bad hair days. I told our daughter that Nana didn’t feel well, but our daughter persisted, saying, “But I want to give her a flower.” She proceeded to pick a red flower from the garden, bring it over to me to show me her gift, and insist that she, and no one else, be the one to present it to Nana. Against my better judgment, I conceded, saying with reservation, “Okay, you can give it to her,” knowing that that would be the last time she would see her Nana alive.
When our daughter walked into Mom and Dad’s house, for some reason she knew not to head over to the same recliner chair in which Mom always resided. Instead, her instincts drove her to the bedroom where Mom lay. When she saw Nana, she seemed oblivious to the fact that, for the first time, she had seen Nana without any hair. Walking past the people surrounding Mom’s bed, she walked directly over to Nana’s side, lifted Nana’s thin, bony hand, placed the red flower on the bed next to Nana, and gently lay Nana’s frail hand on top of the stem. The room was filled with tearful people who witnessed the moment. At that point, our daughter turned toward me, her weeping mom, who picked her up and whispered, “It’s time to go now, Honey.”
We walked out to our mini van in which our nanny and two other children waited. Our daughter stood inside the vehicle and I outside. As we hugged goodbye, our daughter squeezed me more firmly than she ever had in the past. As we were locked in our timeless hug, she cried, “Mommy, don’t go. Don’t leave me. I love you so much. Please don’t go.”
At that very moment, a family member ran out of the house crying, “Cyndi, your mom just passed.”
“No! No! I have to be there. I have to be with her!” I screamed.
As I let go and ran aimlessly, I suddenly realized that I was with my mom, my buddy, my best friend in the entire world during her passing. Or rather, she was with us.
At the very moment of Mom’s passing, our daughter was whispering the exact same words to me that I would have whispered to Mom as she took her last breath. And our daughter was hugging me with all her might, just as I would have hugged Mom, trying hard to never let go.
At the moment of her passing, as she had done throughout my life, Mom protected me, her little girl, from the devastating pain of having to witness her final breath. Instead, at that moment, she miraculously and selflessly passed on to our daughter and I the incredible relationship that Mom and I shared.
That unbelievably strong hug that our daughter and I shared that day was a hug shared by the three of us. It was Mom providing that extra squeeze that our daughter and I both felt, letting us know that everything would be all right.
It was beautiful, magical and memorable, just like Mom.
Last updated on: 03/18/2009
Grade A stuff. I’m uqnuetsoinably in your debt.
Ricky Ricky – 01/24/2012
What liberating knowldege. Give me liberty or give me death.
Sagar Sagar – 09/03/2012