I write best when I’m reflective. Now would be one of those times.
My husband’s mom, dad, and brother came to visit yesterday to help us get out of the house and be here for us. They couldn’t have come at a better time.
We got the news that my mom had one or two days left and to visit quickly. We rushed right over. My mom hadn’t opened her eyes in over a day, stopped eating and drinking, and was breathing erratically despite the oxygen pumping in from her nasal cannula.
I got to speak privately with her and say everything I needed her to hear. My friend and coworker who happens to be a former hospice nurse had told me hearing is the last thing to go, so I firmly believe she heard every word. I reminded her of the great times we’ve had, how strong she’s always been, and how it’s okay to rest now. I told her I’ll be okay and I will try to live a happy life, because I know that’s what she’d want. I told her my husband will take good care of me and his family will too. I guess he told her the same thing; so did his mom. I told her we will go to Paris this autumn. She kept insisting we go there and have a croissant for her.
As a side note, I have to admit I have kept Ray’s family at arm’s length while my mom’s been sick, especially his mom, and I apologize deeply for that. I have been afraid his mom would take my mom’s place, because deep down I knew my mom would pass soon, and if Ray and I ever had kids, they’d never know my mom, but they would know her. I shared a lot with Ray’s mom before we got the news yesterday: the baby clothes my mom and I picked out if we should ever have kids, the baby blanket my mom hand-sewed for me growing up, good stories, and more. And I realized she loved my mom too and just wanted to be there for me. She told my mom, “I know I can’t be the mom you have been to Tori, but I promise we’ll take care of her.” I can’t thank her enough for promising that. To my mother-in-law: I love you and thank you. You’re an incredible mom and person.
Anyway, the oxygen converter was incredibly loud and there was too much stimulation in the room. I talked with my mom and told her I was going to make it more comfortable, something I’ve been trying to do since she’s been sick. I grabbed a photo of us in New York City for her to hold on to until I came back and slipped it under her hand. Then I got to work.
I asked Ray to come back in to help me. The tubing and electrical plug for the converter luckily reached outside the door, so we got it out of the room. I turned the TV off and hid the remote control so nobody would disturb her. We dimmed the lights. I asked Ray if he could find some soft music, but then decided the sound of the ocean would be best. He found an eleven hour stream of the sound of waves crashing on the beach which we left next to her. I told her, “We couldn’t bring you to the ocean, so we brought the ocean to you.” That’s her happy place. I mean, that was her happy place. I still don’t know the right tense to use here. She looked so peaceful.
Ray suggested we go home to get some sleep, as otherwise I’d be hovering over her all night. We grabbed some Asian takeout food on the way home, although hunger isn’t something I feel anymore. I nabbed a fortune cookie and hoped for a good one. “The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.” Remembering the truth of impermanence, it couldn’t be more fitting.
I needed to go to sleep soon after we returned home. This has all been emotionally exhausting, and I don’t have much energy anymore. Ray’s parents and brother apparently cleaned our house spick and span while I was passed out. I am so thankful for his family and their being here yesterday. For hugging me yesterday especially. Everything happens for a reason.
At some point in the middle of the night, Ray woke me up and delivered the news. My mom stopped breathing around 11:45pm. She had passed. I wasn’t there when it happened, and that’s okay, because I don’t think she’d want me to see her like that. She was protecting me still.
I think I cried a little when Ray delivered the news, but right now it feels more like disbelief and detachment. I knew this time would come and I have grieved and cried ever since she was diagnosed in November 2012. I’ve tried to keep her happy and comfortable since then, and I can rest easy knowing that.
As I told her last night, she has fought so hard for so long, it’s okay to rest now. I promise I’ll be okay. I love you the mostest, Mom. Always have, always will.
You earned your wings.
In loving memory of Margaret Mary Baczek, July 23, 1953 – August 2, 2014
“Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly…”
I do not have wake or funeral information yet, but I can tell you a few things. When talking about my mom’s final wishes, I told her how in some cultures, they consider passing a time of celebration for one’s life, not a mourning of their death. They even wear bright colors. She loved that sentiment and wanted it for herself. She would like everyone to wear colorful clothes, not black, to her wake and funeral and to remember the good times.
Also, in lieu of flowers, she wanted everyone to consider making a donation to the National Brain Tumor Society in her memory. Here is the link to her memorial page: www.braintumorcommunity.org/goto/MargaretBaczek
Thank you, everyone, for your continued happy thoughts, prayers, kindness, and consideration.