She’s Dying (Part 3)

In this post I am going to describe and explain the events that led up to and include Mum’s death. Mum died at 3pm on Saturday 3rd March 2018.

Mum was deteriorating and needed care all day. That care came in the form of my Mum’s partner and I, and the thrice daily visits from home visit carers. On Valentine’s Day in 2018, one of the home carers, Mateo, brought Mum a single red rose and a card. It made her smile. The next day was my Nan’s 79th birthday (and would be her 81st today!), and I had told Mum that I was going to be going over to my Nan’s that evening to spend time with her and so that she wasn’t alone on her birthday. Mum replied with “Oh shit, it’s Nanny’s birthday?!”.  She got quite agitated and upset because this horrible disease had made her forget her own mum’s birthday. Mum was frustrated and angry, however I reassured her that I had bought a spare card for Mum to use. I hadn’t, I just gave her the one I’d bought and went to get another one. It was odd seeing Mum’s attempt at writing – I’ve always loved my Mum’s handwriting, and to see it literally withering away with every character she wrote was as though it was being erased it front of me. I took the cards with me, spent the night at my Nan’s, and most of the next morning with her before going to work.

Mum really started to deteriorate in the last few days of February. There was nothing ‘left’ in her. The weather surrounding the date of Mum’s death was awful. It snowed for three days in a row. Now, when you’re dying and your loved ones are alerting other loved ones who live far away that now is the time to come and say a final goodbye, all that snow really fucks it up for everyone. On Thursday 1st March, I was at work when it started snowing. It snowed like mad and it did not stop. Everyone got sent home by 1pm, now I’m lucky enough to be able to walk to and from work, however it took some of my colleagues 2+ hours to travel 6 miles. I’m almost certain that my brother was due to fly to Dorset from Liverpool…and then his flight got cancelled. He was lucky enough to get on the train and arrive two days before Mum departed, although the UK was already covered in a thick blanket of snow. I remember when he arrived that day, he immediately called his girlfriend and asked her to get here as well. I can’t remember if she left that same day or the day after, but something was in our stars that day as she was on the last train from London Waterloo that didn’t get affected by the weather. My Nan didn’t feel confident driving in snow so my Mum’s partner went to get her, and collected both my brother and his girlfriend from the train station.

I stayed with Mum whilst various people were collected from various stations and houses. I lied down in bed next to her. I held her hand and stroked her arm, her hair, cuddled her. I wiped her face and moved her head when she dribbled. When said various people arrived, I left them to have time with Mum. I don’t know if Mum knew I was there, if she could see or feel me, but I like to think that she could sense a friendly and caring presence right next to her, and I hope that brought her comfort. Mother’s Day was 11th March in 2018, and I was starting to realise that Mum wouldn’t make it that long. I wrote a long Mother’s Day card about how much her love and influence meant to me, and read it to her whilst holding her hand, desperate for her to be hear me.

On the eve of her death, Mum fell asleep in a bit of an odd position – her emaciated limbs in T-Rex arms. On the day that she died, I went into her bedroom at around 8am and noticed she was in exactly the same position, but her face had kind of…dropped. It didn’t look like her face anymore at all. Not only was it gaunt and sallow, it was now lifeless, pained, and grey. I messaged Sam and told him that I needed him to be here. I messaged my friends. “I think my Mum is really close to dying. The Marie Curie website lists all these signs to look out for when a person is close to dying and Mum is displaying every sign. She hasn’t been fully conscious since Thursday, and she has been in the same position for over 12 hours” Sam threw himself out of the house and drove to me, my friends were scared for me. That morning I also called the terminal cancer hotline and asked for some advice whilst Mum’s partner went to get my Nan. They advised me to call my local out of hours GP and ask for a district nurse – so I did. Two district nurses (petition to get their job titles officially changed to superheroes?) visited Mum that morning, one about 9am and another around midday. The first nurse said Mum was completely unresponsive and said that the frown on her face was probably due to pain. Both of them administered morphine, I think to essentially send Mum on her way.

Final instalment (Part 4) tomorrow.

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