What It Was Like Being By My Mother's Side In Her Final Moments

by Melissa Mae

Dear Mom,

You are gone.

I wrote you a few days ago, saying how I was ready to let you go and how much I wanted you to be out of your misery. Being with you and holding your hand as you took your last breath was both profoundly beautiful and absolutely devastating.

Isn't it interesting how we're able to feel so many conflicting feelings at once?

The last few days have been nothing short of a wild roller coaster of emotions.

I remember those times we gathered around your bed, thinking that was it. I remember listening to your labored breath, watching the rise and fall of your chest. I remember our hands on your thin frame, hot tears rolling down our cheeks.

Then suddenly, your breath would return to normal, and we would look at each other, smile and shake our heads at your will to live.

Conversations would resume.

We would joke, cry and eat. We would take turns lying next to you, stroking your hair and face.

We would wait. We wondered what was going on in your mind. We wondered if your soul was floating in and out of your body.

You weren't quite sure if you could leave your family just yet, but the other side looked so inviting. Loved ones were waiting for you.

On the other side, there was a permanent freedom from pain and sickness. Or maybe, it was just darkness, with our voices fading in and out of your consciousness.

Many times, I took your hand in mine or put my hand on your heart, feeling the exhausted beat.

I would try to tune into your soul.

I tried to tell you we loved you. It was okay to go, and we would be alright.

I felt you push back.

"No, I'm not ready yet."

I would kiss your soft cheek and whisper in your ear that I loved you. I hope you heard. I hope you felt my heart reach toward yours.

I think you did. The last hour of your life, you struggled to breathe through the fluid that was gathering in your lungs.

It was so hard to hear. I hated not being able to do anything about it.

Each exhale was a moan. It was almost a plea to let it end. We gathered around your bed, our hands piled on top of yours.

Aunt Kim cradled your head and told you it was time.

We couldn't stand to see you in misery any longer, and we would be okay.

I believe you felt it through our skin. We wanted you to be at peace. Your breathing slowed, with your body still taking in every bit of air it could.

With your last breath, I felt you leave. With your last breath, your physical body left behind the shell of my beautiful mother.

Those arms would never again wrap around me in a warm embrace. Those eyes would never again twinkle or dance with laughter. I had some time alone with you.

It was odd to kiss your forehead, hold you and tell you my final goodbye, unable to wrap my brain around the fact you were no longer in there anymore.

I wanted to reach out, grab your soul and stick it back in your body. It was the most helpless feeling I've ever experienced.

I've never felt so vulnerable and small in this vast universe. When I got home, Jarrod and I lied out on the trampoline.

You picked the perfect night to go, Mom.

A meteor shower? You think of everything.

I cried as I watched the shooting stars cross the sky.

Jarrod said, "She's dancing up there."

I believe you are.

Lots of love,

Your daughter