Living in the Moment
Grief can be a very lonely process…
I picked up my cell phone which was wet from my tears. The touch screen had become unresponsive due to the moisture. I’d been on the phone with my mom for the greater part of the evening. She had become my stress release in the weeks prior to and leading up to that night, but that night in particular she had become my backbone – my guardian angel in the flesh, and her spirit held me up as I faced the inevitable. I held my girlfriend’s hand in mine and watched over her as her breathing waned and her heartbeats fluttered less and less, her body preparing itself to drift away. I was choked up at the sight of it but my mom talked me through every waking moment. I checked her pulse compulsively as we were at home and not in the hospital, and those things become all the more pertinent as your loved one nears their end. I talked to my girlfriend as my mom talked to me and soothed my fears. I updated her by the second as best I could as to what was transpiring right before my eyes.
As the time drew nearer my mom cried with me as I watched my girlfriend slowly slip away. Her bright light dimmed and she took a piece of me with her. Even now, the memory evokes such excruciatingly strong emotions that I am so thankful my mom was there with me, separated by an extension of miles but not by heart-mind-and soul felt words of comfort that were sorely needed. I needed her so badly in those final moments and I will always be grateful for the strength and compassion she smothered me in that night.
I had my girlfriend’s cell phone in my pocket. I’d been managing her calls over the past few days. It was one of rare moments leading up to that point that she did not have her cell phone in hand, managing life’s more or less important events; utilizing the mini computer her smart phone had began doubling as. Starting about two days prior she had less of a need for it. I’d spent that day answering text messages from her friends, letting them know what was happening, which was all too fast! I wrongly estimated that she had about 1-2 weeks remaining and promised to call them to schedule a time to visit as time permitted.
I fished her phone out of my pocket and called her eldest son. I was overcome; sobbing uncontrollably when he answered. I wasn’t thinking clearly enough to wonder at the time whether he’d mistake me for his mom. He was just at the house the night before taking care of her as I prepared for bed. I had just one more day of work remaining before taking my leave of absence so I could care for her full-time. I’d devised a rotating schedule a few days prior to ensure that she’d always be cared for by her closest family and most trusted friends.
“John, where are you?” I sobbed into the phone. “Do you need me to come over?” He quickly replied, making no acknowledgement of whether he knew it was her or I. It didn’t matter. “I’m on my way!” The phone went silent. I knew he’d be shocked at the sight of his mom laying in the hospital bed propped up in the dining room where she spent her final resting moments. She was already becoming cool to the touch. I was devastated and didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I felt her face and kissed her cheek and ached all over. I needed to be alone as there were people all around. They’d been helping me tend to her needs all day as friends and family filed in and out leading up to the moment she passed. Her sister was there; showing such incredible strength in those moments where I felt weak, powerless and feeling entirely insignificant – as if a part of my own essence was being taken from me along with my girlfriend. I was thinking in my heart, “Please don’t leave me baby” but I knew that it was all over. She was gone.
How oft love surrounded me
when expected least
I’ve only just begun
No amount of suppression
This path set forth
Amongst the leaves
Where Knowledge lives
This life no more