I just read a very moving post on the blog by Debra Kristi http://debrakristi.wordpress.com/ about this being the 15th anniversary of the last day she saw her sister alive. There is a photo of the two of them together. She has used her sister’s name (Kristi) as part of her blog name in memory of her. It made me think of how lucky we are to have people in our lives we love, and how important it is to tell them so.
Two and a half years ago, my mother died after 3 years of being in a nursing home because of Alzheimer’s. I lost her in little stages. The first Christmas after she moved into the low care section, she tapped the bunch of Christmas cards in her hand and said “Now, you’re, Richard, aren’t you?” By late the next year, she was introducing me to people as her husband, or her brother, or who knows who. She gradually lost the ability to dress herself, eat unaided, and had no idea who her family were, except that we were someone she knew. She was moved into high care.
She died of heart failure as she was sitting down to dinner one night. She had a faint pulse. The nurse in charge rang me to check what the terminal care instructions were. I was driving and pulled the car over to take the call. The instructions had been put in writing, but i guess in the middle of an emergency they couldn’t put their hand right on the right bit of the file. I said “if there’s no pulse, don’t resuscitate.” By this time an ambulance crew had arrived and they found no pulse. I was still pulled over on the side of the road. The nurse told me over the phone “She’s gone.” later that night I had the chance to sit with her body and talk to her. That may sound strange to some people, but it helped me.
Fortunately I had told her when she was still alive that I thought she had been a good mother, and that I loved her.
Tonight’s blog by Debra made me want to remember to tell my kids regularly that I love them. They know it, but especially my son: for some reasons males don’t say that kind of thing to other males, even sons, I think, as much as they do to daughters. He engages in a couple of high risk sports. It would be a tragedy to lose him, and a double tragedy not to have told him how much I care.
What experiences have you had of losing someone, and did you have the chance to “say goodbye” properly? What advice would you give others?