Affirmation After Death
Last summer, I stood by my Mother’s hospital bed struggling to come to terms with what was happening to our family. I held her limp hand and watched her frail body gasping for little breaths like a fish out of water, her brown eyes staring into nothing, void of recognition, thought, and feeling. Her thick black hair that she had treasured all her life had fallen out, leaving her with a springy gray thatch that a nurse had brushed back at some point in the day. She would have hated it. Six months earlier she had been diagnosed with bladder cancer. Her initial prognosis was good and we were all hopeful. After a surgery to remove part of her bladder and intensive chemotherapy we prayed for the best. The best was not what was to come for my Mother.
My father had called early in the morning, only telling us to come to the hospital. When I walked into the room, I was stunned. Looking at my Mother, I knew her death was here. My first thought was, I will never talk to my mother again. She slipped away over the next hours. Anytime I left the room, for lunch, to walk outside, to take my baby to nap, I whispered to her that I loved her and that she could let go. There was no dramatic moment when she died. She wasn’t hooked up to any monitors, there was no buzzing or beeping or commotion. We realized that she had stopped breathing, and a family friend went to the nurse’s desk. They came to listen for a heartbeat or find a pulse. The nurses gave their condolences and left us there.
I felt too young to be losing my Mother. I had just given birth to my second daughter four months earlier and had a two year old. I still needed advice. I still needed support. I still needed all the things that only a Mother can say and do for her daughter.
Despite the pain of losing her, a year later, I believe that my Mother’s death has become an affirmation of my life. Mom was exactly thirty years older than me when she died. I found myself thinking, what if I only have thirty years left? I reevaluated my own health. I asked myself if I was the kind of woman, mother, and wife that I really wanted to be. What are my next thirty years going to be like? Where is my next set of goals going to lead me? I have examined myself so thoroughly and found the next chapter of my life. Losing my Mother has been the most difficult experience but I have discovered more about myself in this past year than I have in the previous thirty. I know that my Mother would be proud that I have been able to take something positive from her death. Some days I can’t even believe it myself but I know that she would.