the day she died

Before I entered her room,
I had been kindly warned
to prepare for the worst.
I wasn’t sure what that meant
or how to heed such words,
so I stumbled to my father first
and took him in my arms.

In the event, it didn’t matter—
my mother’s eyes were closed
with so much medication
coursing through her veins
to dull the enveloping pains
that sleep was the only thing
her failing body could manage.

Once or twice that long day
her heavy lids slowly rose
yet quickly lowered again
her mind cognizant of nothing
her once eager voice silenced
her pale flesh sinking steadily
into the coldly wrinkled sheets.

For hours we spoke beside her
as if somehow she could hear,
and I prayed in my heart that
she might speak to me once more,
but all I heard as darkness fell
was her harshly rasping breath
and the lengthening pauses between.

Although I had indeed been warned
to prepare for the worst that day,
I know now with painful certainty
that the worst was not that moment
seeing her cancered body dying there,
but rather thinking of all the days,
the years that had quietly passed

while we had been apart.

My mum, Dora Mae Stewart, with my father George near Monterey, California (May 2006)

23 thoughts on “the day she died

  1. Beautiful reminder of the way we all sometimes take our family for granted. I wish I could have been more wonderful to my mom on the phone the last time she’d called. It’s lovely that you were there for your mom on her last day. I feel sure she must have appreciated that in some way.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I would like to think so, too, Lia. It was so surreal. So strange and awkward. Family there, trying to speak to one another while she lay there, just breathing. We went back to my father’s home that night, tried to get some sleep, not knowing what the next day would be like. I think I had only slept a little when my father came in to the room, said, “George, she’s gone.” I remember getting dressed, driving back to the hospital to say goodbye. And only when, in the deepest dark of night, sitting in the passenger seat as my father drove us back to his place, that I finally just started weeping. And he said, calmly, “It’s okay, son, just let it out.” I still cry just thinking about it. She was a wonderful woman.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wow… thanks for sharing that. It can be very awkward indeed. And sometimes the dying wait for their most treasured people to leave the room before they will let go. 💗 Wonderful that your dad was there to be supportive of and share in the natural feelings when she was ultimately released. And her essence is still in your heart now always.

        Liked by 1 person

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