Health & Medical Self-Improvement

The End of Life

Sometime yesterday, we lost our Mom.
She slipped into a coma and lost her ability to communicate with us.
Her gaze stared well beyond us, to a place only she could go.
I played some Hawaiian guitar music for her, my brother Nick massaged her feet, my sister Lani told her how much we loved her.
No response, just a deep, labored breath that got shorter every hour.
We decide to pull back.
No more oxygen.
No more morphine.
We let God and destiny take their natural course.
But it's excruciatingly painful for us.
We hold hands and pray.
We pray for a smooth departure and a peaceful ascent to heaven.
We pray for ourselves.
We pray that we will find a way to go on without the only mother we've ever known.
By 9:30 p.
m.
, Mom's breathing is labored and she is perspiring profusely.
She looks like she is struggling so we opt to give her some Roxinol (liquid morphine) to try to give her some relief.
Nick brings a wet wash cloth and try to cool Mom down, but her skin is clammy and hot.
Suddenly, she stops breathing.
I'm watching her carotid artery and see it is still pulsing so I know she's alive.
Her chest rises with another breath, but it's shallow and weak.
I have my arm around her trying to bring comfort in her last minutes, but she's struggling.
In one move, her arms rise up in a contorted web, her eyes and mouth open wide as her head jerks back violently.
Her eyes look right into mine and her back arches for one final push.
Simultaneously, a guttural sound spews forward like a mortally wounded animal.
Then there is silence.
No more breaths.
No more beats.
Reality penetrates.
My mother is dead.
A heart that beat over three billion times through the Great Depression, World War II, the birth of 8 children, the Moon landing, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the election of the first black President is still for the first time in 86 years, 7 months and 21 days.
I note the time: 10:22 p.
m.
, Hawaiian Standard Time.
October 7, 2009.
Without the benefit of circulating blood, Mom's face is turning pale now.
Her skin, yellow from jaundice is starting to cool and stiffen, but we are clenched in a group hug trying to console our mammoth loss.
I close my eyes and start to fill my head with as many different visions of my Mom as possible.
I know if I just fixate on the cancer-ravaged body I see right now, that image will haunt me every time I think of Mom.
I start to detach from the body lying in front of me.
I know the uhane (the spirit) that was my mother is now gone.
, it is traveling at great speed toward the White Light.
She is free and strong once more, no longer encumbered by this old and weak body.
We are going to honor and care for her body, but this body is not my Mom.
It is only the "carrier" of her spirit, much like a car carries us from place to place.
When the car dies, we keep on going.
My mind is going back to 3rd grade and I'm watching my Mom and older sister Charlotte color Easter eggs with a pencil because we didn't have the food coloring to dye the eggs.
A few years later, I see my Mom being crowned as the Queen for a Hawaiian court, maybe Aloha Week or Kamehameha Day.
Her beautiful Hawaiian features and broad smile always brought the term "regal" when anyone described her from that point on.
Then I see her bathing my son, Caine and niece, Pomai in the kitchen sink back in 1983, when they were both just a year old.
These are the images I want to keep.
I want to remember my Mom's life at the peak of vibrancy and not obsess so much on the her slowly declining finish.
I want to remember the many times we sipped our coffee and talked about the morning news or told funny stories about my Dad in the cool of the evening.
My Mom had a rich and happy life that paved her legacy into the hearts of all who knew her.
The transition is made.
The circle complete.
The End of Life.

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