People often say, “they slipped away quietly, in peace.” This wasn’t peaceful.
I kept telling her it was ok to go. We told her to let go. Let it go.
And she did.
There was no wailing that can sometimes be heard when one passes away. No shrieking, high pitched screams or yelling.
It was calm, gentle. We all cried. I cried and sobbed deeply.
For a moment I felt relieved. Relieved that mums pain was finished, gone, complete. No longer there to torment her; or us, or me for that matter.
But my pain was just beginning, or continuing, all over again. I was heartbroken.
I had to put this aside. I had to put my own grieving to the back of my mind. I comforted my dad and my brother as we continued to sit around the bed and whisper our love to her. There were hugs, tears and tissues.
I pressed the “Call” button on the wall next to the bed. One of the duty nurses arrived and I told her that mum was gone. She offered her condolences and left to advise the Director and the Medical Practitioner. These 2 arrived a short time later and pronounced mum dead.
Things after here are a bit of a blur to me.
I was in auto pilot now. Again my grief pushed to the back to do the things that needed to be done.
We left the room and made our way out to the lounge area where were given some privacy.
There were calls to me made, messages to send. I remember calling close family members and a few close friends and mum’s friends.
“She’s gone.” I said over and over again. “She’s gone.”
Dad had been in touch with the funeral home a few days earlier, so a call was made back to them. The lady that answered his call, Katrina, was an absolute gem. The way she spoke to us, leaded us through what would happen, what we needed to do, decisions we made; was made so much easier because of her. Not just on this day, but the days ahead as we arranged mum’s funeral and then months following when we laid her ashes.
A few hours later the undertaker arrived with his gurney and black body bag. I chose not to be in the room when they did their job. There were 2 of them, a lady and a man; who again made us feel “comfortable”. They answered our questions and told us what the procedure was.
When I went back into the room, mum was there, in the bag. It was zipped up to her waist. Her hands were crossed over her chest, her eyes close.
She looked peaceful, at peace, finally.
Final instructions were given, paperwork signed. The Zip went up.
The undertaker took a bunch of flowers out of a vase that was sitting on the shelf. It was a bunch of flowers from mum’s garden that I had bought her the day before. He laid them on top of the black bag. How perfect I remember thinking.
There was a commotion in the corridor. The nurses were trying to get all the residents back into their rooms and close their doors so that the gurney could be wheeled out. This was no easy task. Eventually, all the doors were shut, some of the nursing staff stood quietly with their heads bowed as she was wheeled out. It was like a guard of honor.
Half way down the corridor, one of the resident’s door opened and out walked a lady just as we were walking past. “Did she die?”, this lady asked bluntly but with curiosity. “Yes she did.” I said to her as I walked past.
“Yes she did.”
After mum left the building, dad and I went about packing up mum’s belongings from her room. There wasn’t much. A few wall hangings and photos that we had put up the week before to make it feel more “homely”. An overnight bag with her clothing and toiletries. Her favourite handmade quilt that her quilting friends made for her. Stitched together with love, with messages of love and friendship.
The one that offered her so much comfort in those months preceding this day.
Then we walked out, dad and I. The room was empty, packed up; ready for the next resident. Just like that. It was a case of “get them in, get them out, pack them up, get the next ones in.”
That night as I walked through the door of my house, I received hugs from my 2 boys. I went to my husband, he held me and I wept. Finally, for a moment I could let go, cry, weep, sob. Let my heart shatter and break. Feel the pain. Be vulnerable, afraid, scared, angry, relieved. Because the next day, I needed to be there, where ever there was. Be there for who ever needed me to be there.