Saturday, April 11, 2009

Five years ago today…

…I wrote this:

“At 4 AM, Dad gently woke me up and held my hand as we walked down the hall and as we approached Mom he said, “If you’re very quiet, you can hear how peaceful death is.”

Just before dawn on Easter Sunday, as the half-moon rose over the horizon, Mom drifted peacefully and quietly from this life.

Her breaths were like a tiny, delicate little bird’s: very shallow, very regular, and very soft, with a faint rhythmic “click” to each breath. She looked totally relaxed. But she didn’t look like my mother. Mom had taken leave two days before. That was so obvious to me as we helped “usher” Mom’s body across as she’d asked. Over the period of an hour, she drifted so sweetly and peacefully away, surrounded by her family, and within the glimmer of a Bavarian candle.

After she died, Dad went outside and picked a dogwood flower and placed it on Mom. He commented to me that dogwood flowers only stay light for a short time. He was right: in a matter of minutes, dark spots appeared on the tip of each flower.

DogwoodonlyB

Then we all sat with her. No one cried. It was simply too serene and beautiful, too “holy” even, to cry. Michael and Dad even took a few pictures. Mom looked beautiful in her white lace gown, under the white lace sheet, graced by the dogwood flower on Easter morning as the sun rose.

About two hours after Mom died, a Funeral Alternative couple came to get her. A husband/wife team, they gently told us what would happen. State law requires gloves and a plastic sheet and that she be covered and encased. Previously, I’d thought I couldn’t stay for such a thing, but I would have never considered leaving at that point. They handed me the dogwood while they wrapped her and placed her on the gurney. Then they “zipped her in,” forgetting to replace the flower – which I wanted with her. So I found my way to her, unwrapping her, and placed the flower on her chest. Then I gave her a kiss and said, “Schlafy, schlafy (my family’s “sleep tight”) one last time.”

Wine and flowers for Mom

Flowers and wine for Mom.

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6 comments:

Renate said...

I had that experience with my Mom the Wednesday before Easter 20 years ago. I, too, will never forget how peaceful her passing was and how privileged I felt to be able to be there for her passing. I closed her eyes after she died, but I have to admit I couldn't watch them put her into the bodybag. I know they have to do that, but to me it felt like such a violation. It's been 20 years now, but I still cry when I think about it. I still miss meine Mutti.

Anonymous said...

What a touching and beautiful post, Carol. Your mother was truly blessed to have such a loving and respectful passage from this life.

LynnB

Margaret said...

Beautifully written and evocative. I wish that all deaths could be like your mom's. My thoughts are with you today.

Rositta said...

Carol, I cried reading this post. Two years ago one day before mother's day my mom died in hospital. It was not as peaceful as the way your mom passed away. Right now my husband is in Greece at his dying mother's bedside in a hospital. It is grim for him and I suspect will not get better. Greece is a third world country when it comes to health care and I think the words pain relief is not in their dictionary...Happy Easter.

natasha said...

Watch Natsha Naked!

Goofball said...

I'm really glad that you've been able to spend her last moments with her.

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