And Then She Was Free

Dear mom,
You are gone. I wrote a few days ago about how I was ready to let you go, how much I wanted you to be out of misery. Being with you, holding your hand as you took your last breath, is something that was profoundly beautiful and absolutely devastating. Isn't it interesting, how we are able to feel so many opposing emotions at one time?

The last few days have been nothing short of the wildest roller coaster of feelings I've ever been on. Those times we gathered around your bed, thinking this was it, this was the end. Listening to your labored breath, watching the rise and fall of your chest, our hands on your thin frame, hot tears rolling down our cheeks. And then your breath would return to normal, and we would look at each other and smile and shake our heads at your will to live. Conversation would resume, we would joke, cry, eat. We would take turns laying next to you, stroking your hair and face. And we would wait.

I wondered what was going on in your mind. If your soul was floating in and out of your body, not quite sure if you could leave your family just yet, but the other side looking so inviting with loved ones waiting and permanent freedom from pain and sickness. Or maybe it was just darkness, our voices fading in and out of your conscious.

Many times I took your hand in mine or lay my hand on your heart, feeling the exhausted beat. I would try to tune into your soul, to tell you we loved you, it was okay to go, we would be alright. I felt you push back, "No, I'm not ready yet." I would kiss your soft cheek and whisper in your ear that it was me and tell you I loved you. I hope you heard. I hope you felt my heart expand out to reach yours. I think you did.

The last hour of your life you struggled to breathe through the fluid that was gathering in your lungs. That was so hard to hear and not be able to do anything about. Each exhale was a moan, almost like a plea to please let it end. We gathered around your bed, our hands piled on top of yours. Aunt Kim cradled your head and told you it was time, to please let go, we couldn't stand to see you in misery any longer, we would be okay. I believe you felt it through our skin, in our souls, that we loved you so much, that we wanted you to be at peace. Your breathing slowed, your body still taking in every bit of air it could. And with your last breath, I felt you leave. With your last breath, your physical body was a shell of my beautiful mother. Those arms would never again wrap around me in a warm embrace. Those eyes would never again twinkle or dance with laughter.

I had some time alone with you. It was odd, to kiss your forehead and hold you and tell you my final goodbye, unable to wrap my brain around the fact that you were no longer in there anymore. I wanted to reach out and grab your soul and stick it back in your body. It was the most helpless feeling I have ever experienced. I have never felt so vulnerable and small in this vast universe.

When I got home, Jarrod and I lay out on the trampoline. You picked the perfect night to go, mom. A meteor shower? You think of everything. I cried as I watched shooting stars cross the sky. Jarrod said,"She's dancing up there." And I believe you are.

My Mom is Dying and I'm Okay With It
Why I Shaved My Head
My photo series of my moms journey

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