The Universe: So Many Questions Without Answers
I have been doing a lot of thinking lately. Say what... she thinks?! Ok, all kidding aside, my brain is stuck on a few things after losing mom in January. I am not a religious person but I am a spiritual person. The way my mom passed has me questioning the universe and beyond. I question the human brain and what we do not know about it. I question a heaven. I don't believe in hell. If there is a hell, it's my belief we are in hell- right here on planet earth. If there is a heaven, I also believe we get glimpses of it daily on planet earth as well. I also believe the human soul is energy. I'm not writing this with hopes of persuading others to believe as I do.
Two days before my mom passed away she went into a semi-coma and she was unable to swallow. We took turns sitting at her bedside to hold her hand and just talk to her. I was holding her hand while she appeared to be sleeping comfortably. Suddenly, my mom awoke and looked upset and almost afraid. She squeezed my hand and in a very weak voice- with a whisper she told me she had been dreaming. I had to think quick because I wasn't quite sure how to respond to her since she appeared distressed. So, I asked mom if she had a nice dream? In a very weak and quiet voice, mom said, "yes." I decided to push her because I thought maybe she needed to talk about it since she told me she had a dream.
After I asked mom if it was a nice dream, I went on to ask if she was seeing people. Mom seemed a bit calmer when I asked this question and again whispered "yes." My head was spinning, anxiety was building, because I wasn't sure what my mom was really trying to say. I went on to ask if the people she was seeing were still living on Earth? Mom replied, "no." Then I think I must have pushed things a bit too far, I asked her if she saw dad? My dad died when I was 11 years old from cancer. I guess in my heart or mind, I always thought he would be the first to appear and gently guide my mom home (wherever home is after we die)? Mom got really upset when I asked her that question and just kept shaking her head while saying, "no, and I don't want to talk about it!" I made her cry. I felt so bad after pushing her the way I did. In my mind, I thought she possibly did see him and that it may have been comforting. I just have to hang on to the few positive things she did share- "The dream was nice and she was seeing people who were no longer with us on planet earth."
The next day mom had what some would call a surge. I've heard others refer to it as 'rallying up.' Mom woke up mid-day and said she was so thirsty. Remember, she was not able to swallow the day before. She must have drank 40 oz's of fluid, more than she drank each day in the last 3 months of her life. Mom kept saying, " I don't know what happened to me yesterday, it was strange." She truly seemed bewildered by the day before. Mom told jokes, ate some food and even asked my husband if she could take a sip of his black and tan beer. He asked her if she was sure she wanted some and mom said, "Yes, I could use a beer!" We all laughed. After mom took a sip of his beer she whispered to my husband, "You shouldn't drink that stuff." She didn't like black and tan beer, so that was her humor shining through. Again, we laughed. It felt so good to laugh with her!
The laughter was short lived
I live out of town so I was staying at a friend's home in Ohio when mom took a turn for the worse. I received a call early the next morning that mom's breathing had declined and she had been struggling to breathe that morning. She was not able to swallow again and was given a high dose of Morphine. Actually, our entire family received that call. Hospice was there and we were told we might want to get to the house ASAP.
As soon as I arrived at the home I could see mom slipping away fast. Her breathing had slowed to about 1 breath every 20 seconds or so and her extremities/fingers were blue. My brother was on his way from work. My brother had to drive approximately 50 miles to get there. When I saw mom fading, I told her, "Mom, Andy is on his way." As soon as I told mom that her breathing picked up until my brother arrived about 10 minutes later. We all spent one on one time with mom before she passed so we could talk to her privately. After my brother spoke to her we gathered at her bedside, caressing her and letting her know we were all there with her. FINALLY, we told her that we would all be OK and we would make sure our stepfather was OK too. We told her she didn't need to worry anymore and it was OK to let go. Within 2 minutes of telling our mom those words she passed away peacefully.
I spent a few months trying to find answers to the 'surge' we experienced with mom. I haven't found any medical literature to substantiate this is a medical phenomenon. I have found hypothesis about the brain and why it MAY be that dying people experience a day free of pain and seemingly free of illness within 24 hours or less of passing. What I did find more of- Doctors and researchers can't explain this phenomenon. I witnessed it many times while working in the hospital. People would come out of a coma and want to eat gourmet meal, sit up in a chair only to die less than 24 hours later. I had many patients who were in their last hours of life ask me if I could see "so and so," in the corner? I never dismissed what they felt they saw. After all, life and death are in many ways a mystery.
Why can't I let it go?
I'm not sure why but it bothers me that I upset my mom so much when I asked her if she saw my dad. Maybe sorting through the emotions are part of the grieving process? I'm sure many of you could share stories that may be somewhat parallel in nature? I'm a fairly open book and that's where my mom and I differed. She never spoke of death and dying prior to dying. For some reason, that bothered me too. I guess I wanted to know if she was at peace with dying or feared it? Again, I'm sure others have had to deal with the similar questions that can haunt you until you're finally able to move beyond the grief? At this moment, I'm stuck on what I said versus what I think I should have said. I want to believe that my mom wasn't upset with my words... I have to wonder since she never spoke of death and kept telling us that she went through all the treatments to live, well I have to wonder if she thought she was sparing us from the thoughts of losing her? My mother always put us first, sometimes to a fault.
Obviously, we can never find answers to thoughts that flood us when we are losing or have lost a loved one. I think it's human nature to search for answers. I do believe (or maybe I want to believe) that mom was hovering between her earthly life and life beyond. The night before mom passed and fell back into her semi-coma like state she was awoken. After waking up, she cried and said, "Why did you wake me?!!" My stepfather shared a cute thought about her waking up that evening. He said, " I think your mom was going back and forth from heaven to earth and she was in a happier place before she waking her up." Again, a mystery. Bringing life into this world is not a mystery. We know how life begins- that is unless you've never learned about the birds and the bees and we can't forget the stork [insert smile].
Death will remain a mystery. Sadly, people will continue to grieve over those they lost. I'm finding it's easier for me to move on by sharing stories. I used to journal when I was feeling down or hopeless even as a teen. It seems it still helps now. Through sharing stories, we can also find common ground. I don't, like the saying, "Misery loves company," but I think we can all contribute thoughts or personal stories that are helpful or cathartic, which in turn, can be beneficial to many.
Please feel free to share your stories. Contained within personal stories are truths.
It may appear I'm a morbid person, but in truth, I will always be on a mission to seek answers even if I never find them.
I used to leave my mom Textagrams on her facebook page once or twice a week, she enjoyed them. Here is one textagram I wrote to her.
I'd like to finish this post with a photo of my mom when she was healthy. That's how I want to remember her. A photo of our family with my dad before my baby sister was born. Life really was good and we were fortunate to be loved unconditionally by both of my parents.
I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe. Dalai Lama