I realized, just this morning, that this week, 18 years ago, was the last week of my mother's life. It was a week of odd humor, resignation, acceptance, and goodbyes. I was a thirty eight year old woman whose mother was dying of terminal lung cancer. I was too young to lose her and she was too young to die.
She came to live with me six weeks earlier. Just in time for fall. This is the time frame that I remember the most and while it doesn't sting as badly and isn't as fresh, I try to recall every moment despite any sadness or pain.
I remember the leaves my children gathered for her. They had odd colorings and imprints. She loved them and we buried them with her.
I remember my husband stopping by the side of the road to get the daylilies that were everywhere and bringing her a bouquet.
I remember she thought she was dying a full week earlier and she asked me to call her sisters so she could say goodbye. Then to call my brothers so she could see them both. One of them traveled from North Carolina and another from a few minutes away. It was hard watching them say goodbye.
I remember peeking in to her room when I heard singing outside her door.
I found my youngest brother holding her and signing to her. It was one of his finest moments.
I remember she stopped eating.
And that she could no longer keep her eyes open.
But she could hear me.
And the morning she died, I climbed in bed with her and held her in my arms.
I watched her face in between the agonizing and lengthening spaces between breaths.
And I remember telling her I loved her and that Jesus loved her.
One last breath.
One last smile.
Her soul flew over my right shoulder and was gone.
The room, so quiet now, held only two souls.
Mine and my husbands.
That was beautiful, I said.
And he nodded.
That whole last week was.