In 1989, my mother had a massive stroke. Amazingly, it didn't kill her right then and there. Nor did the hours-long lack of treatment (it struck overnight as my dad and I slept).
That was on October 1st, 1989, when my father had found my mother in her favorite chair, not able to speak, barely could hear, and was blind in one eye. Also, her entire right side was paralyzed.
For 28 days, my mother suffered. Unbearable for her to endure. Unbearable for me to watch. Especially when she and I had more in common than I had ever thought that we could. Before her move to a so-called rehabilitation center, she had to have a trache placed in, due to the muscles in her lungs spasming and filling with fluid due to pneumonia.
So many times, with her good hand (her left side), she succeeded in pulling out her nasal-gastric feeding tube.It was so bad, they finally had to restrain her arm as to keep the tube in to nourish her.
But I knew then, even at the age 12, that mother wanted out. She didn't want to live like that. She didn't want US to live with her being like that. She wanted to let nature take it's course and release her. I think she KNEW that no matter what, the affects of the stroke were going to kill her in the end.
On that 28th and final day, after all of the denials of my father of her not getting better, and saying she WILL, I think something inside of ME gave me the wisdom of timing and of knowing what was the RIGHT thing to do.
As Dad went off to get a soda or some coffee, and waiting for him to be out of earshot, being you had to yell at the top of your lungs for her to hear you, I told my mother something that I NEVER in my young mind or heart would ever think I'd have to...
"It's okay Mom. WE will be okay. I'll be alright. I know you don't want to do this anymore, and you want to go home. If that IS what you want, then it's okay to let go and be with Grandma and Grandpa".
Within not even a 24 hour time frame, after I had said those words to her, Dad got that dreaded call from the Rehab Center. Something happened and she stopped breathing. He and his mom rushed to the receiving hospital that she was taken to by ambulance.
All in all, between the center, the ambulance and the ER, they all worked to save my mother for about an hour.
They called her death just about a mere five minutes before Dad and Nana had arrived.
She went Home. Just as she wanted to. No longer to suffer or to lay there, not LIVING what was to had become her "life.
Now, my friend Angel and her sisters have been faced with a similar scenario that scarcely mimics mine. Only, I am an only child. And I didn't deny to myself what "home" truly meant.
Like I had told Angel on her blog post, and in a comment within one of her FaceBook status posts, it is NOT a weak thing to finally realize the realities of the end of someone's life, and wish to not prolong their suffering. It is not a decision that is EVER made lightly, and often times, not made sooner because WE don't wish to be without the person that we will be losing to death.
It takes an insurmountable amount of strength, courage, and most of all, UNCONDITIONAL love to make an end-of-life decision to let your loved one die with dignity and the least amount of medical restraint as possible.
The clues are there, being provided by the one that is suffering. But sometimes, because of our emotions and the need to NOT want to let go, we don't always see them. Or we do, but refuse to admit that they are there. And that's normal. And it's OKAY.
Please, I implore ALL that read this post, to MAKE KNOWN your final wishes. Have a Living Will drawn up and let your family and close friends know what YOUR wishes are. My mother, and Angel's mother did NOT do this.
In the end, we were the ones to have to carry that horrendous weight upon our shoulders to make that life ending, and life altering decision. To let go. To let our mothers find peace and rest. NO child, young, old or in between should have to endure as we had to.
Angel, my dear, sweet sister who literally wears her name on her sleeve...
Know that while heartbreaking, difficult and emotionally-draining, what you and your sisters decided to do, had taken A LOT of courage and strength. What you did was a wonderful showing of UNCONDITIONAL love, and a heart-felt final gift of that love. Never (any of you) feel that you were weak in mind, or in heart of coming to that conclusion. Because it is the farthest thing from the truth, my dear sister.
As of this post being completed, I went to Angel's FaceBook page, to sadly find that her mother has had her sedation scaled back and letting her breath more on her own. It's just now a matter of time to see where things will go from there. It's in her mother's hands, and most importantly, in God's will.. May the family find comfort in the Lord Jesus through this sad and difficult time.