The Day continues....

There we were waiting… most wait for a train, wait for morning, wait for that special event, not this day, we were waiting for my mother, my childrens grandmother to die.

The nurses did not anticipate that it would start happening so quick. They had started morphine at 40mls, so it was high from the start, but when she came into the hospital she was not herself, and had not been herself for a couple of weeks. On the final day at home she had tried to go to the toilet, walking herself with her walker and her swollen leaking feet to the bathroom, or the bedroom, completely confused on where to go. That morning was a special morning for me. I got the opportunity to give her her final shower at home. Many would be horrified by the thought of washing someone, and once upon a time I would have been too. But after her trying to find the toilet, and deciding she wanted a shower, I washed her and as she stood, I wrapped the towel around her frail body and she hugged into me as a child would into their mother when they are feeling vulnerable. This was a great gift for me, an opportunity for the tables to be turned, for me to give her what she had given me for 34 years. That was one day I was able to give her what she gave me every day without complaint.

A blue nurse came that day, she said she has not got long to go, she had tried to stay awake for about three days, sitting up in her chair, the nurse warned me that if she didn’t go to hospital then she would die in that chair. This scared the shit out of me to be frank. What would happen if she died in that chair? I had no idea what to do or what to expect. So although I had the opportunity for a hospital bed to be delivered, I knew this was out of my league and there was little I could do now to help her. What a helpless position to be in, so I knew I had to call the ambulance. This was hard as I had to try and talk to my mother, although she had a lot of trouble communicating now, yet I knew that when I told her that I would have to call an ambulance to take her to hospital, she cried, and she knew what that meant, it was written all over her face. This broke my heart completely.

I called the ambulance, and my mother got up again with her walker and headed for the toilet. This time she struggled more than usual and she fell, I tried to grab her hand but I was not quick enough. She fell onto the toilet floor. I heard the ambulance outside and rushed to see them, leaving her there aware that there was a possibility she may have broken something as she had osteporosis as well. They came quickly and helped her up, she had not broken anything thank God! I must say she was a fighter, still walking the day before she dies, she walked down those steps aided by the ambulance officers, who were kind and gentle with her. She got in the ambulance and was still fighting to get out, she really didn’t want to be there, but what I realised later, her trying to get out of the bed and pulling at sheets is a normal part of the dying process. I then rang my daughter, and took my son and picked her up and followed the ambulance to the hospital hearing the song “The Horses” by Daryl Braithwaite on the way, this was one of “Nan’s” (mum’s) favourite songs, which to me seemed like there was a lot of synchronistic events about to unfold which would only make sense later.

Sitting there holding her hand, we all sat and waited. My friend I had called earlier had arrived and I was supprised. I honestly wasnt sure she would come. It was a relief, and I honestly felt it was right she be there as my mother did look after her for a period of her life. It had been a long night, and a long morning, my mother was starting to have the death rattle as they call it, they tried to give her medication to stop it from happening but it continued. I thought I would be completely disturbed by the sound, but it was not as bad as I thought it would be. She lay there facing out the window, she looked like she was awake, but in all honesty I think her soul partially left during the night as we experienced flickering lights and she was no longer pulling at her sheets and asking us to help her and save her, this was very hard to hear when you know there is little you can do and your heart and soul want nothing more than to give her exactly that. A very helpless situation. But now she lay there unresponsive.

We all spoke to her our personal thoughts, our feelings, what we saw in her, what a great and special person she has been in our lives. We were so blessed to get this opportunity, many don’t get that chance, I do feel so lucky really. We thanked her from the bottom of our hearts.

Then the doctor came in and pressed hard on her finger, and said some scientific word that for some reason I knew what it meant and that is she is pretty much comatose and non responsive, in otherwords, she is nearly dead.

I knew when I saw the patchy red marks develop on her hand. My daughter saw what was happening as she was holding her hand at the time. She found this unbearable so I swapped seats with her and held her hand. I was terrified too, but I knew I had to put that behind me. I shared with my daughter and my son what was happening, and for some reason, they all left the room my daughter, my son and my friend. At this point I sobbed and told my mother how much I loved her. Telling her that I do not want her to suffer anymore and that its ok to let go. To go to God, to go to Jesus, to see her father and to give our long lost 17 year old friend a big hug. Then I saw her patchy hands were changing from the patchiness to a pale blue, her pulse was racing in her neck, and I knew it was very soon… I then started automatically praying the Lords Prayer. I am not a religious person but it came naturally, and as insane as it sounds I was aware later that even though there was no one else in the room, I was not alone in saying that prayer, there was a male voice saying it with me.

At the time that I ended the prayer and shared that it was ok to go, she died… just as everyone else walked back in. She opened her mouth a couple of times trying to get air, and a single teardrop came out of her left eye and she was gone……….

We all held hands, myself, my son, my daughter and friend, and we sobbed and sobbed.

We spent a few moments reflecting and breathing and talking, and realising that she left us three a little special thing each.

My daughter would get her cheek softly stroked when she was upset, my mother did that for her the day before she died.

Myself, I told my mother I loved her, and she responded “I love you too” on the evening before she passed away, even though she had struggled to communicate.

My son, got the finger hahaha, you may think this strange, but he has a funny sense of humour and it fit, she was being cheeky back to him the night before she went.

So we all got a special memory left behind.

My children and my friend left the room. I stayed to wash her down. I had no idea of how fast the body changes after death, but I knew that I needed to do this to get through the grieving process. After all, Maori’s look after the body after death as well as when they pass on as part of the mourning process. I felt honoured. The nurse was very considerate and human and would not wash her with sterile gloves as she felt this was insulting. I agreed.

After we washed her, I invited the family back in to see her, but in all honesty after seeing out of the corner of my eye, her move when I knew she couldn’t move, and see her knee lift, when she was already gone, that she had left her body and was no longer there. So felt that we were only seeing the shell now and it was ok to go.

This amazing woman had given life to me and I was able to be there when she left this world. I feel honoured yet sad, distraught and often despair on losing her but am blessed in knowing I was able to say Goodbye. I will honour her until the day of my passing and will tell all that want to know of this great woman all I possibly can on what she taught me and taught many……

The Day continues....


Brisbane, Australia

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Artist's Description

Death of a loved one

Artwork Comments

  • flower68
  • jaycee
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