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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Birthday Gift - Precious Memories 24

I woke up that birthday morning, with mixed emotions.

My heart was heavy, yet I knew it was time. I knew in my heart, this would be the last birthday I would have with my mother still present here on Earth.

Time was drawing near, and I could sense that the thin veil separating her from her eternal home, was slowly beginning to pull back. She had become quieter, and was sleeping more. Most of my visits now, were sitting at her bedside, watching her sleep. I attempted to keep up my rigid routine, and be with her every waking moment. I was losing sleep, as she slept the days away. I was so afraid I wouldn’t be with her when the time came.

At one point, barely able to stand up straight and keep my eyes open, a nurse I had built rapport with took me by the shoulders and brought her face close to mine, staring straight into my glazed eyes. 

She gently whispered, “Go home. We will call you if there is any change. I get why you want to be here, but please, go home.”

And then she held me as I wept. I was so tired. I wanted the suffering to be over, but I wasn’t ready to let go.

However, I took her advice and I went home.

So when I woke up that birthday morning, I wasn’t really sure what to do with myself.  My mom had always been half of my birthday celebration. It was our tradition. I knew she would want me to go out and do something, yet I felt guilty.

 How could I go celebrate?   I wasn’t in the mood for cheesecake. 

What I wanted and needed for my birthday, wasn’t going to happen. I wanted her healed, in her right mind, and to stick around awhile longer. I wanted a miracle.

I didn’t stay away long. I made a quick trip to the store, to appease my worried husband who was deeply concerned for my health and well-being. He wanted me to get away and just breathe, but I wasn’t feeling it.

I couldn’t shop and celebrate anything. I wasn’t in the mood.

When I arrived back in my mom’s room that afternoon, the hospice Chaplain was there. She had been reading the Bible out loud, and my mom rested peacefully in her bed. Soft hymns were playing, via the Chaplain’s iPod which was near my mom’s pillow so she could hear it. There was a tangible presence in that room, I could feel the peace and calm as I walked in. I gently sat next to my mom’s bed in my normal spot, and that is when she opened her eyes. She turned her head towards me and smiled. It was the first time her pretty blue eyes had met mine, in days. I looked at the Chaplain who smiled at me and said, “She’s awake.”

My mom raised her arm up, beckoning me to her. I switched to the other side of her bed and sat gently so as not to hurt her. She stroked my arm, smiling and nodding her head yes. I looked at the Chaplain again, who smiled and said, “She seems very coherent right now.”

I leaned over my mom, bringing my face closer to hers, and said, “Mom, you know who I am today?” She smiled and said, “My baby.”

I lost it. 

The Chaplain, who was a little stunned, said, “It’s the first time I’ve heard her speak, and that was clear as a bell.”

I needed a moment to compose myself, I was choking on my tears. My mom continued to rub my arm, and pulled me down closer for a hug. I hugged her as best as I could with her in bed, and she began to take her hands and play with my hair. She had always messed around with my curls in my younger days. She rubbed my hair, stroked my arm, and when I told her I loved her, she said, “I love you too.”  Clear as a bell.

The Chaplain and I just looked at each other, more than a little stunned.

And then the Chaplain said, “This is a moment of clarity you have been given. It is a gift. Embrace it and enjoy it.”

She stayed in the room taking notes, but allowing us to have this moment. As my tears soaked the bedspread, my mom smiled and called me “the baby” several times. I am her youngest and she often referred to me as such, when I was growing up. To hear her use the term, and have her recognize me, was almost more than I could take.

When I finally gained some composure, I said, “Mom it’s my birthday today. You know how old I am?” She smiled and shook her head no, waiting for me to go on. When I told her just how old I was that day, she opened her eyes big and wide as if surprised and made a big “OHHHH” with her mouth.

We all laughed and she smiled at me with a twinkle in her eye.

For the last time, we were sharing my birthday, smiling and laughing, and I felt her mother’s love radiating through me.

It was the perfect gift.

  *The Precious Memories posts you read here, are dedicated to my mother who battled Alzheimer's. I share snippets of our story, and some things I learned along the way.  

You can start reading our story from the beginning here:
Precious Memories 1 

You can read my last Precious Memories post here:
Stand By Me - Precious Memories 23

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