At this moment, Mom is still breathing. But the breaths are “not life-sustaining,” according to the nurse who called this morning. I would have said the same things about her breaths yesterday, or even Sunday night. Her relative physical health seems to be sustaining her still, long after her brain turned against her.

Mozart is blaring from my phone. Jeff left his iPod here when he and Laura flew home yesterday, but its battery ran out overnight and I forgot to bring a charger.

The three of us got a lot done while they were here. More importantly, the prolonged time together strengthened our bond. In Mom’s room, we laughed a lot, selected photos for her service and shared memories, but also lamented her illness and had varying and unpredictable emotional responses to her imminent death. Lots of 3-way hugs, and a renewed sense of our love for each other. Agreements to leave Mom’s side and then an agreement to stick together when I had an unexpected moment of crisis late Sunday. I believed she would die that night, partly based on how she looked and under the influence of a hospice nurse who suspected she couldn’t survive the night. (No one else has spoken so definitively about Mom.) “I feel like I have to see it through,”  I said. “It’s my job.” Forty-five minutes later, we left. We needed rest for the day ahead, our only chance to work on funeral arrangements. Monday morning, she was still here. I got a call last evening that she had made a sudden transition. Patrick and I raced back here. An hour later, she had not changed. We returned home. And here she still is this morning, surprising her entire care team.

Those who know me and/or read this blog know I am not a believer in total sacrifice of my own health and life as a caregiver for Mom. The dying process has challenged me somewhat, in that I did expect I would want to be with her at the moment of her death. There is the question of whether she would want any of her kids here when she died that influenced my ease in leaving her from time to time. There is the pain of looking at her in this state that makes me need to leave sometimes. And my own health concerns me. My resting heart rate had been near or above 100 since Saturday, causing me to feel like I am having the longest hot flash ever recorded. When Mom was in distress and I could speak in a comforting way to her, I wanted to be here. But she has been unresponsive since midday Sunday. We talked to her and kept music in her ear, not knowing if anything got through. I am here today because concentrating on anything else is impossible. I feel stress about missing work, but I don’t trust my ability to perform well while waiting for the call that my mother died.

Nurses and I have recommended to her today that she let go. I just blasted Handel’s Messiah when it came on, inviting her to go out to that music that she loved so. It may seem inappropriate to wish strongly for a mother’s death. But if anyone has earned the peace of eternal rest, it is Bonnie Caldwell.

9 comments so far

  1. Becky Honeywell on

    oh my lord…my heart goes out to your mother, you and your family. Sending lots of love and peace as you go through this incredibly stressful, joyful, gutwrenching time.

  2. Dee on

    Emily – your blogs have been so honest and so beautiful – I have been reading them as preparation for the same journey someday, and they have been amazing. My prayers are with you and your family.

  3. melwriter78 on

    My thoughts are with you. My husband Ron – along with his sister and other family members – sat vigil by his mother’s bedside during an agonizing two-week decline. You will always know that you gave her the best you could give, and that may be a comfort to you. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Love, Melissa

  4. Kevin Ewy on

    I hope you all can make it as much as a joyous celebration of her life during these times – I know you will do what is right for her – I don’t know her but know instinctively she is pleased with all of you there and supporting each other as well as her –

    Take care –


  5. Kevin Ewy on

    oh, and from knowing from my own Mom’s passing – they will do exactly what they want to – no need to conform now – once a pistol, always a pistol. Hang in there.

  6. M. Burrington on

    May your mother, your family and loved you, her dedicated advocate, know the strength of God’s love at this time. Peace be with you.

  7. joolzmac on

    Peace be with you at this time. You are a blessing to your mother…

  8. Mary Jo Myers on

    Emily, I’ve tapped into your blog at such a late time because Bonnie’s friends have been giving me reports. But, oh my dear, what a gift your words are to all who read them. I, too, laugh and cry with you. and continue to hold both you and Bonnie in my heart as I always have. May both of you find deep peace in her passing. — And yes, I am that same Mary Jo.

  9. Mary Jo Myers on

    Emily, This may be a repeat, as I don’t think the one I just made went through. Anyway, I can now breathe a sigh of grateful relief that the suffering is over and that both you and Bonnie may experience deep peace. I have been so touched by your words, so honest and loving and open. They are a gift to anyone who reads them. Bless you my dear. Yes, I am “that” Mary Jo and I have held both of you fondly in my heart all these years and continue to do so.

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