On Death

At night when everything is quiet and the day is settling in I have the opportunity to think about life, love, and my pursuit of happiness. Last night as I sat in the darkness and I thought about the last time I saw my mother. I had just driven like a maniac the two miles to MD Anderson, parked illegally, and had hurried up to the chemo ward when I saw about 10-12 doctors and nurses in my mother's room. I started crying thinking she was gone, but she wasn't. They had been working on her, and had several machines hooked up to her. I was told she had fallen and her blood pressure had dropped, it was 60 over 40 and they couldn't understand what was wrong. I was told to calm down and that they were going to move her to ICU. I wanted to speak to her, and I grabbed her hand and told her I loved her. I can't remember if she told me she loved me but she mumbled something that I did not understand, I told her that we were going to get her fixed and that to hang in there. She was cold and her skin was clammy and cold. They began to move her to ICU and on the way to the elevators she began cussing and complaining about how damn cold it was and how her a-double-s was hanging out for the world to say. One of the nurses made a comment about her feistiness. That was the last time I saw my mother.

I was made to wait outside ICU. I wasn't allowed in there because a patient had coded. A nurse who walked by gave me a quarter to call my sister who was back at the apartment with my daughter. I called, filled her in on what was going on, and told her I thought mom was going to die. She calmed me down and after hanging up, I saw her doctor come out and lead me into this little room. I was told my mother had a clot or tumor that had broken off and was in her heart blocking the flow. They called my sister in on a conference call and explained the situation. They told us she would need to have surgery, immediately and without she would be dead in about 3 hours, it would be like bipass surgery and that they were preppy the OR as we were speaking. I asked how she was, and they said she had calmed down, and her doctor promised to stay with her until surgery. I wanted to go in and see her but they explained to me that she did not understand what was going on and if I let on to her that something was seriously wrong it might stress her out. They offered to have a police officer escort me home since I explained that I needed to get my daughter and sister and needed to call some family members.

The ride back to the apartment seemed long, and the only thing that kept going on in my head was that today, the day after Mother's day, my mother was going to die. I couldn't shake the feeling. I got up to the apartment and my sister and I began making phone calls, my step- dad and husband were catching a flight to Houston and my aunt was also going to fly in. We called the hospital and were told that mom had been taken to surgery already and to come on back tot the hospital. With baby in tow and a list of telephone numbers we left, taking two separate cars. When we got there we were shown to a surgical waiting room, that was so crowded I had to stand for awhile.

Shortly after we arrived my mother's doctor came out to speak to us. He explained that right after I left that my mother had coded and they performed CPR on her until they got her into surgery. All I kept thinking was she is dead, and even asked if she was going to have long term effects from all of this. He had no answers but said that she was in surgery and doing quite well, her heart was on a bypass machine, and it would be about another hour. I felt sick, I nursed my daughter, and paced. I sat back down and had me head in my hands and the tears didn't come, but I wanted to cry. My body began to feel empty, I actually felt like something inside of me was lifted out, and I felt nauseated. In my chest I felt as if there was a brick sitting there preventing me form breathing, and then it was like I knew, my mother had died. I turned to my sister and asked her the time, it was five after four. Twenty minutes later we were led to a conference room, and my child who was smiling and happy had no idea as to what we were fixing to hear. When the surgeon came in her told us that our mother had died at 4:05. Her heart had come through the surgery but that her lungs filled with fluid because of the damage the cancer had caused them, and she couldn't begin breathing on her own.

That day changed me as daughter it changed me as a mother. I realized that I can't fix everything, I will not always be able to keep promises because sometimes you have no control over situations. I also realized that whether or not there is a god we are spiritual beings, and that in some way shape or form there is an afterlife. That when we die, the spirit leaves and there is nothing but a shell, and when someone close to us dies, we feel it in our spirit too.