Death and the Departure Lounge Part 2: Final Boarding Call

NOTE: Yesterday morning, after a long night taking shifts with Mum, I took my first shower in days, came back into the room and opened the computer to type. What came out of me was like fire igniting a line of petrol: from my desire to remember all the little moments of what had been the blur of the past few days, I found I had never written so fast in my entire life. 

What you are about to read is un-edited as I want to remember this writing blurge in all its raw, flawed glory.

Because as I finished the final sentence, my sister alerted me to a major change in Mum’s breathing.  Minutes later, she was gone. 

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Mum used to play classical music to get us off to sleep. Now, we are doing the same for her. Chopin. Violin. Opera. We go between my sister’s iPod and Classic FM.

Saturday morning we were given a rough timeframe from the hospice nurses of a week.

What I didn’t realise was that only minutes after this prognosis, we had what would be our final conversation with Mum. It was beautiful. Heartfelt. Most of our conversations lately are though. It ended with her falling asleep. Most of our conversations do though.

She hasn’t woken up.

Now here we are on Tuesday, her still sleeping. We still talk to her and sing to her. Ang and I performed our final ever concert for her, singing some of her favourite old-time war-songs, plus a version of “My Blue Heaven” which she used to sing to us:

“Just Jenny and me,

And Angie makes three,

We’re happy in my blue heaven!”

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This is inevitable. This was always the direction we were heading in. This is, after all, the direction we are all heading in. It’s only the where, when and the how that varies. But it still feels like a shock.

It’s a shock to me that Saturday morning was our final conversation. I thought that for some reason when we had our final chat I WOULD KNOW it was our final chat. I’d be able to say the final things, the closers, the goodbyes…instead we are saying all of that…but it’s to a non-responsive person. But she’s still responsive in my mind: I imagine the things she would say in reply if she were responsive and I know damn well I’m right. She’d say “Oh, bless you. What a wonderful thing to say. You’re a wonderful person. All you’ve done. Bless you, darling, bless you. I love you so much. I couldn’t love you any more if I tried.”

I know this, because she’s repeated these exact phrases to me over and over and over again over this past few months together. I whispered in her ear at some point in these last blurry few days: “You thanked me so many times for caring for you this past little while, but it’s I who should be thanking you. This has been the highlight of my life.”

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This is really killing me.

She’s told me a million beautiful things, she’s told Ang a million beautiful things…but we still want a million and one. There is absolutely no word that has been left unsaid, yet I would give anything for her to open her eyes and just say one word more. The appetite for more of her is insatiable. This kind of greed hurts.

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And just like that, what do you know? Her flight took off.

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