Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Her Final Breath

The most painful moment of my life happened one week ago. Accepting that my mom was going to die. Soon. In a matter of twenty-four hours, the prognosis went from her having a few months to live, to a couple weeks, then to a few days... and then only a matter of minutes. This came as a shock to my entire family. How could this happen?

Just days ago, my mom had been at home, sick, and having much difficultly breathing. She had been to multiple doctors over the past two months and, after having a number of tests and being put on medications and inhalers, the doctor told her to come back in three weeks. Now, she's no longer alive. She died of something that no doctor had found and told us about until a day and a half before she died from it. Let me clarify that this was not the cancer that she battled and survived from back in her 20's. This was a different cancer. An insanely aggressive cancer. A cancer with only a 15% survival rate.

I mean it when I say that this has changed my life. It's changed who I am. What I want out of life. Who I want in my life. It's changed what I believe about death.

Seeing my mother in the hospital was extremely difficult. It just didn't seem like her. She could hardly talk and I ended up getting maybe fifteen minutes of alone time with her the entire five days she was there. Nurses were in and out or she was too tired to talk/be talked to. All I could do was sit there and hold her hand. It got to the point where I just needed to be there at the hospital, even if I sat in the waiting room all day. I just needed to be there.

There are a few moments with her in the hospital that I will keep with me forever. They were short things she said or little ways she looked at me. Those were some of my last memories with her. Precious, precious memories.

No matter how selfish we wanted to be by keeping her with us as long as possible, my mom wanted nature to take its course with her. She was ready. When asked if she was peaceful, she nodded "yes." What a brave woman. To be able to stare death in the face and say, “I’ve done what I needed to do here. Take me when you’re ready, God.” I learned more about life during those five days than I have throughout all my years.

I watched the suffering my mom endured. I listened to her calmness. I watched every little move she made; the tapping of her toes to the raising of her eyebrows as she inhaled. I thought about what it meant to die.
To leave this Earth.
To leave behind the people you shaped and loved and held in their darkest moments.
To go onward to an eternal, new place.

I thought about the spiritual part of it and I thought about the physical part of it because I was experiencing each of those right before my own eyes. I knew my mom was days, minutes, and seconds away from no longer being there physically but instead becoming an angel.

On Tuesday night, after my mom’s best friends and one of her brothers flew into town to say their goodbyes, we all headed home for the night. I felt this deep pain that night as I walked out of the hospital. I just wanted to stay there. It was very difficult for me to leave. As soon as we arrived home, the hospital called saying my mom’s oxygen level had plummeted and we needed to get there as soon as possible.

My dad, two brothers, and I rushed back to the hospital. I’ll never forget the way my body felt as I drove. I was hyperventilating, my sight was blurred. I was living my biggest nightmare. I called my best friend and told her my mom might die that night. I couldn’t believe those words were coming out of my mouth.

As soon as we got there, I placed my mom’s hand in mine and tried so hard to find the words to tell her. What do you say to your mother as she dies? I have decades of moments I’ve yet to live that I wanted to share with her. Advice I knew I’d need and wanted her to give me the answers to. But, I couldn’t share any of those things. Instead, I told her how much I loved her, how wonderful of a mother she was to me, how I’d live a life in honor of her, and that I couldn’t wait to see her again one day. I asked her to watch over me and help me everyday.

For the next four hours, moving into the early hours of the next morning we sat by her side, holding her hands. We knew how it was going to end. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. I didn’t want to miss a second. I wanted to be there for every last moment I could possibly share with her. As time passed, and her vital signs slowly started to weaken, her eyes closed for good and her grip was no longer there. In those final minutes, she lay on the hospital bed with her family around her and angels waiting patiently on the other side. My dad told her it was okay to go. Not long after, we watched and clung on to her as she took her last few breaths here on Earth. And she was gone.

49 comments:

Jenn said...

Chelsea...I'm speechless. If I could reach through the computer right now and hug you, I absolutely would. My heart sincerely goes out to you and your family. If you need ANYTHING, please let me know. Even if it is to get out for a bit and grab a drink, some food, anything (I remember we don't live too far apart!)
It sounds like your mom was an incredibly strong and brave person, and I'm really glad that she was able to be surrounded by the important people in her life. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family...

Leanna Vera said...

I'm sending you lots and lots of love. Your post summed up everything I've been trying to put into words since November. I admire how articulate, strong, and wise you are. My prayers are with you and your family <3

Jenna The Paleo Project said...

Oh Chelsea. I can't even put into words how truly sorry I am for this loss. We are all here for you. Family. Friends. Readers. Strangers. May you continue to shine as you appear to do now.

Preppy Girl Meets World said...

My condolences sweetie. Sending you and your family a great big hug right now. Is there anything that you need that I can do from over here? May the love your mother gave you and all of your memories from happier times sustain you and give you strength now.

Jessica @ Lovely Little Things said...

Chelsea you are such a strong woman. My heart goes out to all of you. I know it couldn't have been easy sharing this beautifully written post, but thank you for doing it. I don't say this lightly - I am praying for you and your family, girl

KAH said...

Chelsea, I'm so sorry that you had to go through this. The way you wrote about it was beautiful and I'm sending you and your family lots of love and prayers. You're so strong and I hope that your heart finds strength in the fact that your Mom is watching over you.

Lauren said...

Bless your pretty heart. I am so sorry about your loss. I know that there are no words to heal all this pain, but just know that you have an abundance of love from your family, friends, and followers. May you find the strength and comfort and peace to get you through this time. Your mom is looking down on you at this very moment, so proud of the woman you've become; the friend you've become; the writer you've become.

You are so strong, Chelsea. I admire you.

xoxo, Lauren

Katie Price said...

I'm crying with you, Chelsea. What a strong and brave girl you are. I hope that you know that people you have never met are thinking about you and sending prayers your way. Keep writing.

Kate said...

I am on my end of the computer sobbing while reading and typing this. I have no idea what to say, but please know that you have many MANY more people than you can even imagine praying for your family and wishing you everything this world has to offer. Your loss is of the deepest kind. If I could give you a hug through the computer I would. I'm so sorry for what you're going through and know that your mom is at peace with where she left you in the world. You are a strong, capable, compassionate woman - You have made your mom proud and will continue to do so...

Megan@ Meg's Craft Creations said...

Chelsea, words cannot express how I ache for you and your family. You are so strong, your sweet mother was so strong. She will always be with you, watching over you. To lose a loved one, especially your mom, is one of the hardest things we as humans face in this life. We all go through it, but it is one thing that every person dreads. I am sure it is comforting to know that your mom can and will always be with you. I cannot imagine her excitement to be with you again in the next life. My condolences to your family. If you need to talk, shoot me an email. Sending lots of love your way. Stay strong.

Megan

Lia Joy said...

I love you Chelsea! And I'm still praying for you and your family. I wish I had words to make everything better. But I don't. I can only give scripture...

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart, my portion forever. Psalm 73:26

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:25-30

I'm here if you need anything!

Carolyn said...

Oh Chels! I just don't even know what to say. I want to have some perfect saying that will sound so comforting and will make you feel better, but I know that's not possible now. You're right when you say that she turned into an angel though. She's your angel, and she's going to be there through every moment with you... guiding you, loving you and holding you. That's what angels are for. :)

Allison said...

Chelsea, I have been praying for you and your family. The words you have written are amazing and show the love you share with so many. Your mom is an angel and with be with you the rest of your life! I wish there were words that I could say to provide comfort but know that you have many people praying for you!!

smk053078 said...

Please know that you have so many people 'out there' that you have never met before that are thinking and praying for you. I can't even imagine what you are going through at this very moment. May the Lord heal your heart and give you stength. Your mom is smiling down at you and will ALWAYS be with you. I am so terribly sorry that you have to go through this.

XOXO,
Shanna

Beth said...

you are so brave for sharing this story with us. you are also so brave for what you've had to go through the past few weeks. i can't even begin to imagine what feelings you're having to push through. just know that there are tons of people that are praying for you and your family.

Tara said...

I'm so proud of how brave your mom was but mostly how brave you have been.Even though this brings me to tears, I thank you for sharing it with us. It's a very personal time for you and I know it must be hard to share. I know that it's going to be hard to be without her. Just know that you will be with her again and she is watching over you everyday. You are amazing, Chelsea.

Ashley said...

I cannot imagine what you must be going through. I am so sorry to hear of this news. My thoughts are with you and your family at this time. Be strong, girl. I am in tears while reading this ... Hold strong, sweet girl. Xo Ashley

Alexandria said...

Gosh Chelsea, I'm so sorry. I know there's nothing I can say to make you feel better, but know that I'm thinking about you and have been. I only wish for the best for you and your family in this tough time. Your mom sounds like such a brave woman, and I know you inherited that wonderful trait from her. My deepest, deepest condolences are with you now.

Sheri said...

Chelsea, I so wish I could hug you tight right now. I am so very truly, sorry for your loss, I am crying with you. I have no doubt that your precious, brave Mom is smiling and thinking how proud she is of you. Now you'll have your very own angel to guide you.

I am keeping you and your family in my thoughts.
Big hugs to you. xo

Aimee L said...

This post made me tear up. I'm so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.

KRISTIN said...

I am so sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. This was such a beautiful post, your mom did an amazing job raising you and your strength and outlook on life are truly inspiring.

Lola said...

Reading this brought me to tears. I'm extremely sorry for your loss, but I'm sure you'll make it through this difficult time.

Who did it? said...

I'm so deeply sorry to read about the loss of your mom. She has raised a wonderful daughter. You & your brothers are her shinning achievements in life. Live your life the way she would want you to go on and know that she will always be watching over each one of you and your dad as well. Stay strong, be supportive for each other and keep your faith. Heaven has a new shinning angel and you can you are lucky enough to be her daughter. I will keep you all in my prayers. (((HUGS)))
Cathy

Peace Love Applesauce- Terri said...

oh my goodness.. this brought tears to my eyes. prayers for your family. i am so sorry for your loss!

Rissa said...

Dear Chelsea,

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Sending you and your family good vibes. Take care of yourself and each other.

Peace and love,
Rissa

Britt said...

Your words are absolutely beautiful! I am teary eyed.

Anonymous said...

Dear Chelsea,

I am so very sorry for your loss...

Very little of anything will matter or make sense right now and that's as it should be when you are coming to terms with the beautiful soul that is your mother leaving your side.

In your post you talk about honouring your mother so it is only right that you should know especially now that it is pretty clear to eveyone who has read your blog that you are a wonderful testament to your mother's life!

There wll be dark days ahead, but when you feel that darkness take hold, remember your mother and feel the light inside of you that comes from her...

With love and light to you!

Trashstar
Xx

bootsineurope said...

I am so sorry for you heartbreaking loss. I always loved the song - Holes in the Floor of Heaven: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Darn9sRp8JQ. It has always brought me a bit of peace when thinking of those I love. Sending you hugs.

Jazmine said...

Dear Chelsea,

so sorry for your loss. This post made me cry.

Thoughts & prayers are with your family!!

Jazmine

Amanda C. said...

I am so sorry. I have been thinking of you and your family often since your first post. I know there are no words, but just know she is at peace and I am praying for you.

Ashley @ The Sweet Life said...

Oh Chelsea. I hate to read about your pain, much less your loss. It took an unmeasurable amount of strength to share this, I'm sure! We'll all be thinking of you...wishing you ease and comfort while you deal with your loss. Sending hugs your way!!

kendra @ little almanac said...

Chelsea, I just came across your blog and just feel heart stricken. I can not believe your loss, and so suddenly too. My prayers are with you and your family.

Jax said...

Oh friend... I am so sorry for your loss. Tears fill my eyes as I replay your words in my head... I couldn't imagine. I just couldn't imagine. When my father passed away under similar circumstances (letting nature take him...my mother saying it was okay to go), a lot of people said a lot of extremely sweet and thoughtful things... But the one that meant the most to me was just hearing "I'm sorry. " And Chelsea, I am so sorry. And I am here for you. Even across the internet...and across the country.

Sending prayers, hugs, love, and thoughts of peace to you and your family...

oftherock said...

I am walking through your experience right now. My mom is dying in the hospital. Every day is day of letting go and saying goodbye.

Soon her heart will give up as her lungs are slowly being filled with fluid. She has suffered so much because of the bi-lateral stroke she had last Dec 2010.

During the past two weeks, I have not had any decent sleep because I am too anxious to hear any sms noise or calls particularly during the night.

Her breathing is much labored now and I am praying that God would give my mom the most beautiful sunset as she departs from us.

I came across your blog and I am in tears. We are losing our mom and it is going to the most painful thing for the family. I actually googled these words "please God give my mom a beautiful sunset..." and I came across your blog and the headline post was about the death of your mom.

May God continue to surround you with His loving comfort as you continue to grieve and celebrate the life and love of your mother.

Take care.

Misty said...

Hey Chelsea,

I dont know what to say. Very Touched by these simple words through which you summarised your mom and her last days. I so feel you and I saw your mom through your words. It just ached me to see her suffering as you did. Your mom is always your pillar of strength. I felt your love for your mom through these words. I love my mom the most. She means the world to me more than anyone.
Chelsea, your moms been lucky to have you all by her when she was leaving this Earth. She is indeed watching over you, at any point in your life when you want an answer to any problem, close your eyes and just listen to/ or feel to what your mom would do in that situation. Praying for you and your family. Take Care and lots of hug xx

Kate @ Daffodils said...

My heart goes out to you and your family. I am so glad you were able to be there with your mom and know she will be looking down on you. God Bless you!!

Aly said...

Oh my gosh, I am so sorry. I can't even imagine. Thinking of you and your family.

Tabitha Mahoney said...

I'm speechless, your family is in my thoughts. You're an amazing writer and how amazing that you'll be able to look back at this post years from now and remember. Amazing.

Tab
my-cliffnotes.blogspot.com

Tiffany said...

Chelsea--my heart just breaks for you and for your family. This is so touching, and so horribly sad. God bless and comfort you all as you go through this horrible time. Know that you are in my prayers.

~Tiffany
http://tiffanyd22.blogspot.com

Leah said...

This post brought tears to my eyes. My biggest fear is losing my mom and I can't even imagine what that must be like for you. It is something I never want to have to experience. Sending my thoughts your way, I hope you are able to stay strong though this.

Amanda Julia said...

Oh Chelsea,

My heart hurts so much for what you have gone through. I don't even know what to say, only that I am thinking of you and you and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

frangepanni said...

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your mom so quickly Chelsea. My best wishes and love goes out to you and your family at this time.

Denise said...

Chelsea, you are so strong! Your mother just has to be so proud of you! She's not hurting anymore and she's in a better place! She's still there with you, you just can't see her but she's there. I will always be here for you, no matter the day or time!

Stephanie in Alex., VA said...

Chelsea, Dear Chelsea, the days ahead will be tough, as Father Time slowly eases the pain that is so prevalent now. Just know that you were, are, and forever will be the bright spot in your mom's life, heart, and spirit. She has been, and will be with you always. She will be there for your highest highs and lowest lows. In times of uncertainty, questions and doubts, she'll be there. Just close your eyes, see her smiling face, and feel that love that carried you through each and every event in your life. It's still there. She's still there. She always will be. She may be in a different form now. But she's there, and will see you through, guiding you all the way... your forever Angel, Your Mom.

MEGAN said...

I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. Thank you for sharing your story, and your journey!

Megan said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I can't even imagine the thoughts, feelings, and emotions that you are going through. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family at this difficult time.

Lindsay said...

oh my word...I just found your blog thru your guest post on Katie's. my heart literally just broke. i am so very sorry for your loss. there are no words I could say to make it better. But as I read your guest post and now this post...it made me think, a lot. my mom is a best friend, she helps me get through my days. i will be sure to tell her every single day ho wmuch i love and cherish her.:)

Meg said...

I am just now going through blog posts of yours, and came across this one. one word came to mind, and I know it will make sense.

Strong.

~ Meg

Karen said...

I just read your post from today and saw the part about loosing your mom. I quickly went through your archive and to say I am in tears is an understatement. My heart is reaching out for you and for your family. I am praying for strength and comfort for all of you. My deepest condolences to you Chelsea.