Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things in life, even when the loss is preceded by months or years of declining health. Fortunately, some children are able to rearrange their work schedules and busy home lives to be there at their parent’s bedside in their final weeks.
Recently, a young woman related her own experience surrounding her mother’s death, and the solace she found in being by her side as she took her final breath. The story is heartfelt and poignant and her emotions practically ooze from her words. It will resonate with anyone who’s suffered a similar loss.
In 2016, doctors diagnosed the Imgur user’s mom with small cell lung cancer. It was a blow to the family, which had been by her side every step of the way as she fought two previous bouts with cancer. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mom underwent chemotherapy and lost her hair in the process. Then doctors found cancer behind her ear, which was also treated successfully.
By September of 2016, though, the cancer spread to her brain. The day before she started yet another round of chemotherapy, mother and daughter posed for a final picture so she could remember “her last day having hair.”
By mid-December, she started having trouble walking and was admitted to the hospital. There, the family learned that the chemotherapy was no longer working. There was nothing more the doctors could do, and the family decided to bring her home, where she would pass under hospice care, comfortable and surrounded by loved ones.
They had their last conversation just days before Christmas.
Then her mother slipped into unconsciousness. They’d always been close, and the young woman realized she’d taken for granted the luxury she’d had to be able to pick up the phone or stop by the house for idle conversation and easy companionship.
The other day I went to tell her something and realized I couldn’t. I’d lost that. I stood by her bed and cried. I shouldn’t have, but I told her how I felt, how I miss being able to talk to her and share my thoughts with her.
When the family decided on in-home hospice care, rather than a hospital’s institutional environment, she, her sister and nieces moved into the family home, where they provided around-the-clock care.
We sleep next to her bed and I work from the recliner next to her, often holding her hand and typing one handedly as I’m doing now. When she can sleep, it is a blessing for her sake. I hate when we have to do things to care for her body because moving her hurts her no matter how gentle we are and her cries break my heart.
Their love surrounded her for the next six weeks, and they dutifully administered her medications. At one point, her dad suffered a “near heart attack” and had to be hospitalized, and she battled a bout with the flu. But despite their own health scares, their beloved mother and wife was never left alone.
She passed away on the afternoon of February 7 with her family gathered at her bedside:
She left us like in this picture, my sister, my dad, and I holding her hand, watching her last breath. It was an honor, mom, to be your daughter. I will miss you for the rest of my life, but I’m glad I could be with you when you left.
The touching tribute went viral just days later. In an addendum, the woman thanked everyone who took the time to share her story, and for all the love and support she’s received from others who have also gone through the loss of a parent.
Her only request is for people to reach out to their loved ones while there’s still time: “If you’re going to call your mom, call and if you’re going to visit, visit. Don’t let yourself be distracted unnecessarily because the one thing you can’t get back is time.”
Share this beautiful and amazingly heartfelt tribute with your loved ones.