In the lead-up to my mother's death, I gained strength through the support of my siblings. When I saw her suffer, I was grateful for her DNR. I knew that I didn't want anything to prolong her suffering.
But when the time came, oh I wanted her to breathe. I kept fussing over her and my siblings were somehow able to stay calm for her. So I excused myself and left the house. I was beside myself. I had no idea what to do. I'd grabbed my coat and my wallet and I walked to the liquor store down their road and bought cigarettes. (What else would an ex-smoker who was upset about her mother dying of cancer do?)
I needed to call somebody. But I didn't have my phone. I had my mother's phone and every number in that phone's address book were people who were suffering about their loss. But low, my father's number was in there! My father, who'd had an amicable relationship with my mother since they agreed to be good co-parents at their children's milestones like graduations and weddings and whatnots. My father, whose text message to my step-father had given him the strength to call hospice for my mother and prepare for the end.
I called my dad and plead with him to tell me how to be like my siblings. Quick! Just tell me how to be calm and helpful because I have to go back in there.
My father told me that it sounded like I did a good job. Just before my mom's death rattle began, I cleaned her up, changed her diaper, changed her bedding, got her comfortable. That was something I could do. My siblings were doing what they could do now. He gave me peace and got me to breath deep and as I hung up the phone, I turned to my husband who'd joined me on the front lawn to tell my that my mother had died.
The peace my father gave me in that horrific moment is something amazing to me. I've never been more grateful for anything before or since so far.
Now his partner is dying and I wish so desperately that I could give him peace.