There are many descriptions of the days or hours at the end of this life. Clearly, my mom is right there towards the end of this path. She hasn’t had anything to eat or drink for over a week, except for a small wet sponge occasionally wiped on her lips and in her mouth, and perhaps a teaspoon of ice cream or apple sauce. Nothing in the past several days. Most of the time, she is comfortable, although not really in this world any more. If she seems to be in pain, there are pain meds close at hand.
Yesterday morning, according to hospice staff, she spoke one word several times: “Mom.” Her mother? Someone else? We have no way of knowing.
Hallucination, they said. Perhaps. But, whether a hallucination or something else, seeing those you have loved is another common part of this final voyage.
We’re trying to stand by, but have not attempted a full-time vigil at her bedside.
We’re told the presence of family or friends can be a comfort to the person who is dying, but can also be a burden. Imagine being very sick, but knowing someone was there watching you constantly. Would that make you feel better or worse?
I’m sure my mother appreciates our presence but wants/needs her own space. So we stand back a bit, giving her ample space to go whenever she chooses, but we are checking in and spending time with her as long as she is not yet ready to let go.
What else can you do?
My sister and I are in awe of the staff of Islands Hospice. They have truly made her last days more comfortable, both for her and for those of us who are trying to accompany her to the end.
And how I wish our mother could have experienced the sunrise on the beach in Kaaawa this morning. It was one of those moments that makes life worth living.