Before I had children, my mom would always tell me that I would never fully understand the meaning of love until I became a mother. Of course, I never believed her. I was in my late teens.. I had experience love in many ways… I loved her, I loved my friends and I had my first romantic love – you know, that first time you fall in love – where life is sweeter and the future suddenly seems full of endless possibilities. But, little did I know that there would be so many more types of love that would be like snowflakes … each unique and beautiful.
Yet, I still wondered how one love could be so much more powerful and potent than what I had felt.
And then, I became a mother.
This love is fierce yet gentle. It is all encompassing yet individual. A love that I would sacrifice my own life for. A love that makes you wake up at night just to make sure that little one is sleeping soundly. It makes you want to go to the ends of the Earth to make them smile. So, needless to say, my mom was right. It is everything she said it would be. But, it’s a feeling most all mothers share. Love, worry, protection and nurturing …
My own mom has passed away. Her passing has been one of the most life changing moments that I have ever experienced. In a second, my life would never be the same. I was there as she took her last breaths. I held her hand and stroked her hair as she moved on. Whispering softly in her ear because I wanted her last moments to be full of love and peace.
My mom knew me and knew our relationship. She knew that I would be ok if I was in the room when she passed away. A mom knows how much her child’s heart can bear. A passing is such a whirlwind of emotions and when a mom knows that their child, no matter the age, cannot handle it, they will do all they can not to pass.
Recently, I was lucky enough to care for the most delightful elderly woman and her caregiver daughter. The daughter was there for the mom day and night. Just like all moms and daughters, they had many tumultuous years in their relationship. All of that was a foregone memory and their relationship had now landed in a place of comfort, love and caring. Just as mom had taken care of the daughter as she was younger, so now were the roles reversed.
As my sweet patient declined, much time was spent with her daughter readying her for the inevitable. Daughter was realistic about her mom’s condition and only requested that we do all we could to make sure she didn’t suffer.
The day came when it was evident that the days and hours had become only minutes and seconds. I had educated the patient’s daughter that sometimes, moms do not like to pass in front of their children. If they know it will sear their soul, they will hold on.
As the calming music flowed through the room, our patient was well on her way to the beyond. Her daughter was fussing over her but it was evident that her mom was unable to respond. I watched as the oxygen levels steadily declined. But, they plateaued and I knew that she was holding on for some reason. The patient’s daughter had a cute little puppy, who right around this time began scratching to go out. Worried, she asked me if it would be ok if she left and I reminded her of our conversation. She stopped to softly touch the foot of the bed before closing the door behind her.
I spoke softly to my patient. Told her that her daughter had stepped out. Finding chantings from her own religion on my phone, I played it softly near her ear because she had been so passionate about it. As I held her hand, those oxygen levels dropped again. Before long, her breathing grew so shallow and more peacefully than could ever be imagined, she found her way into the light.
I called her daughter on the phone in those last few moments, but, was unable to reach her. When she later came back into the apartment, she said she had her phone on her and could not understand why it had not rung. My calls showed up on her phone as she looked, but, since her ringer was on, it was unexplainable why it had not actually rung.
Suddenly, the daughter looked at me and said “You knew… you knew my mom didn’t want to pass in front to me.” I smiled softly .. and, yes, I did. Call it instinct or a whisper from the angels, but I knew she did not want to pass with her daughter near.
The day she passed just happened to be her daughter’s birthday. She could not change the fact that her time was ending, but, she wanted so badly to shield her child from it. A mother’s love never ends. Her passing was the last gift she could give her daughter. The gift of protection.
Mom, you were so right. That love is the greatest of all.