Our time at the beach, as I have already posted, was heavenly, but life took a rather rapid turn as soon as we got home, as I have also vaguely mentioned. Being the wordy person that I am, I am feeling the need to plunk out in more detail the dark night of February 28th. It helps me understand why I have been so weary, and it fills me with gratitude for life and breath and God at work. Be patient with me, dear friends. This is a season of processing for me.
So, back to February 28th. Within minutes of returning home from our debate triumphs and beach bliss, I realized Mom was not feeling well, and within an hour of pulling in the driveway I was pulling out again to take her to the emergency room. It was a terrifying seven-minute drive, seeing how hard it was for her to breathe. When we got her in to an E.R. room, it became very clear very quickly that this was extremely serious. Eventually one of the nurses quietly asked me if Mom had any other family in the area, and I mentioned my husband and children; he was kind enough to suggest that they should hurry in if they wanted to say goodbye. I called my husband, he called Mom's priest, and we prepared for the worst.
I was glad to have about thirty minutes alone with Mom; the staff had done what they could, and they let us be. She was not conscious, and so I just rested my head on the pillow next to her. I let my tears fall, and I thought of all the things I had yet to ask her; I knew in those moments that I would never be "ready" to have her gone.
Eventually my family got there, and we spent some quiet moments around Mom's bed. She was stable yet unresponsive, so it was extra-sweet to have my family with me. When the priest arrived, the kids and John left to give space and quiet for him. We were all set to pray when Kent said, "Oh, look! Your Mom recognizes me." Yep, at that moment Mom was "back." She smiled tiredly, and began to perk up. Kent prayed with us, telling us that he fully expected to see Mom in church in a few weeks; he reassured me that he would be happy to come any time and pray whenever needed. I was grateful for his priestly presence, and so thrilled that he was there for the moment when we knew she was on the mend.
She spent five days in the hospital getting treatment for pneumonia and for her stressed out heart. She remembers nothing about the first hour of the hospital; she only remembers seeing her priest and wondering what he was doing there. No white lights in tunnels, no dramatic stories to tell us; instead, she is the one asking for me to fill in the gaps and let her know what happened when she was "gone."
I will never forget the drive to the hospital (and I will call 911 next time.) I will always remember resting my head next to Mom's, knowing it could be the last time I saw her alive. What an amazingly intense and marvelous thing it is to journey with someone toward eternity. It splits my heart right open, and that is just where I want to be.
Every day is a gift. Every breath is a gift. Every single one. As tough as this is, I would not trade my days for anything. Losing sleep, making bad decisions, worrying and trying not to worry, arguing with Medicare, missing out on a lot of things because I need to be here; all of that pales in comparison to the honor and joy it is to be living next door to my mother, loving her through these frightening and tiring days. This is right where I belong.