Content note: death, grief, passing of a loved one.
Every year on the fourth of July, Independence day is celebrated in the USA. The Declaration of Independence was signed on 4 July 1776 and it declared the thirteen American colonies to no longer be subject to the monarch of Britain, King George III. They were united, free and independent stats.
I was going to write something totally different for this prompt, until on Saturday — 4 July 2020 — a memory popped up on my Facebook timeline of 4 July 2017.
That was the day my mom was released from hospital.
It was only 4 days after she had told them to stop all treatment.
It was only eight days before her death.
That morning, when the two female paramedics walked into mom’s hospital room with sympathetic but professional expressions, I was overwhelmed by grief. I knew mom was about to make her last trip in a vehicle. Ever. I knew she was on her last journey. I knew it was what she wanted. I was at peace with it, but also so damn sad. I was about to lose my mom, to have her torn from my life. I didn’t know if I was ready. Can one ever be ready for it?
When they rolled mom out of the ward to follow the hidden-to-public passages to the waiting ambulance, I turned to the other side to get my car from the parking area. I was going to meet them at the hospice where they were transferring mom too, but at the first set of lights, I ended up pulling up alongside them. From there on, I followed them, and once we entered the quiet town, I retrieved my phone from my bag and snapped a dozen or so photos of the ambulance driving ahead of me.
I remember, while driving behind the ambulance, I thought about it being Independence Day. Even though we don’t celebrate it in The Netherlands, there was something special about mom being transferred on this day, to the place where she would leave this world for the next. I don’t know why it felt special, because as I say, Independence Day is not a Dutch thing, but still it did. Just like it feels special sharing this memory four days after Independence Day, and four days before the third anniversary of mom’s passing.
I spent the next 8 days in the hospice with mom. If I could, I would’ve chosen for it to be 8 weeks, or 8 months. Anything but only a mere 8 days.
In those 8 days I watched mom sleep. I watched when the nurses came in to wash her, and how gentle they were with her. I listened when mom tried to speak — she barely had any breath or strength left. I watched how mom let go of life, little by little. She said the things she wanted to say. Asked about people she cared for, and if they were okay. Told me which messages I had to pass on. Divided her jewelry between the kids and one of my cousins, that she treated as one of her own kids. These things were done in the first half of those 8 days. In the second health she was quieter. Slept more. Talked less. Her smile weakened, but it was there. She was letting go. That part was clear.
She wanted to be set free. Free from the pain, from the suffering. She finally let go in the night of the eleventh and passed away on the twelfth, while my daughter and I held her hands.
© Rebel’s Notes