Sorrow...and Joy

I cannot sleep.  Believe me, I have tried.  Four times now, I have gotten in bed, slipped under the covers, closed my eyes...and nothing. Sleep will not come.  Not even a glass of wine helped.  Not tonight.  Too much on my mind.  This is one of the days that will be etched into my memory forever.  Friday, August 5, 2011.

Twenty-four hours ago, almost to the minute, I was sleeping as soundly as a stone...exhausted from my afternoon/early evening shift staying with Momma at Hospice Home of High Point.  She had several terrible hours when she was fitful, restless, appeared very uncomfortable, and extremely agitated.  "Terminal agitation," it was called by the staff.  "Normal," they assured me.  "Scary," I assured them. Finally, finally in the late afternoon, the nurse came in to say the doctor was increasing the levels of both morphine and the two anti-anxiety meds...again.  And, as had happened the day before, the change seemed to do the trick.

The nurse also told me that they were at the maximum amount of morphine that they could give (20 mg/hr in the morphine pump); they were switching to another medication that evening.  Dilaudid.  If it would work, I was all for it.

Mr. T came at 7:00 to relieve me.  He brought Taco Salads for dinner, so we could share a few minutes of normality in the Family Kitchen.  I would head home for some sleep, he would stay for the next six hours, and then Bro T would relieve him for the overnight shift.  That was the plan.

However, when midnight rolled around, the night nurse urged them to call me. The signs were all there. It was time.

Thankfully, Mr. T came home to wake me and drive me back to Hospice.  It would be the last time we made that 8 mile trip.

Momma passed away calmly and peacefully this morning at 4:00 a.m., with Mr. T, Bro T, and me by her side.  We made sure to surround her with love as she departed this life.  I was able to sit with her, play music for her, and hold her hand until the very last breath.  I had never had this experience, and frankly was a little afraid.  But now, I can only express how thankful and blessed I feel for it.  After the nurse had listened for a heartbeat for the final time and found none, I was able to open the patio door to Momma's room to release her spirit.  It was a beautiful star-lit night...and a wonderful memory.

Of course, the next few days and weeks will be difficult.  There are so many things to do when a loved one dies...and your name and telephone number are at the top of everyone's lists.  True to my nature, the first thing I did when I got home this morning was start my To Do list...and then start making assignments.  Once bossy, always bossy.

And now, with everyone working together, most of the To Do's have been checked off.  Things are falling into place quite nicely.  But, when I really need my sleep, I cannot turn off my brain...or my tear ducts either, for that matter. Silly me, I thought I was well-along in my grieving process; now I'm learning the truth in the statement:  "no matter what, you are never really prepared to say that final goodbye."

Yes, there is sorrow for having to say that final goodbye.  But, there is joy also.  Joy, that Momma is at peace; joy that she has no more pain.  And, joy, that she has made that transition from this life to the next...and left us with so many, many wonderful memories.

Here is the link to her obituary on the Shackelford Funeral Home's website:


Patricia, you are so fortunate to have been there at the last. When both my parents died, it was just a phone call. Something happened hundreds of miles away. "uh, thanks for the call" was all I could muster at the times. I would never see them again, but it was just a continuance of not having seen them for years anyway. It wasn't until I visited my golfing friend Buddy in Hospice that I really realized what death meant. I am happy for you and sad for you at the same time. But God will give you peace. You will continue to be in our prayers. Fred

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