There are many wounds I bear, each taking me back to the final days of my mother’s life. I remember the sparkling, aquamarine necklace– my birthstone, accompanied by a heartfelt letter pleading for forgiveness for being an “inadequate” mother. Soon after, I found myself searching every cupboard, drawer, nook and cranny for any pills and anything else that could be harmful. By the end of my search, with nearly an entire laundry basket full of life-altering paraphernalia, I was sure I had completely rid my mother’s home of anything harmful when self-inflicted or used in excessive amounts. This would soon prove to be a false assumption.
Less than a week later, I received that final call. “Mom is in the ER again,” said Curtis one of my older brothers. This time, though, we were sent to the “quiet room,” where family members of critically ill patients are left to contemplate whether their loved one was going to make it or not. Mom was in the Intensive Care Unit. At this point we were zombies, we didn’t know what to think, how to feel or what to say.
After several hours of life-saving efforts by the determined hospital staff, Mom had less than a 10% chance to live. The moment we entered her room, the three of us were “sprinkled with blood.” We were blessed, as Gregory Orr would say, meaning we were all deeply affected by what had happened. We felt inevitably guilty, yet we knew deep down that she no longer knew happiness, and there was nothing we could have done to change that. She had made up her mind a long time ago.
The air in the ventilation tubes, and the IV fluids flowing through her cold veins were the only false representations of life she had left. Her spirit had departed long before. As painful as it was, we had a difficult decision to make. It had been nearly a week of agony, watching our mother suffer. I had never been religious, but at this one rare time in my life, I felt it necessary to confide in a higher power, any higher power that would listen. It seemed as though my brothers and I had been “conferred with spiritual power,” to give us the strength we needed to do what was ultimately the best thing for our mother. We informed the medical staff of our decision to have her taken off life-support. My mother, Patricia Ann Berryman passed away a few short hours later on March 31st, 2004 at 3:30 p.m.
I often wonder “what if?” The loss of my mother was a tragedy, but as time goes on, I am beginning to realize that I have been blessed to have made it this far in life. Perhaps if I had been relying on my mother all this time, I wouldn’t have learned responsibility, which is the foundation of everything we do in life. Whatever spiritual power that was bestowed upon me that day has given me the strength to persevere through my struggles and plan for a future that I know my mother would have liked me to have. Being blessed doesn’t necessarily mean you will feel “blessed,” but it certainly may have significant effects on your life. This I believe.