The journal entry I left prior to this one centered around my time with mom on the night of Friday Mar. 8th. Our plan was set that we would have a caregiver come on Tuesdays and Fridays to stay overnight to give dad some rest. At work on Monday the 11th, I battled with whether or not I should stay with mom on Monday night and miss work Tuesday, or stay on Wednesday night and miss work Thursday. I knew dad was tired from the weekend so I went with Monday. I'm so glad I did. I got to their house around 7 or 8 (I think) on Monday evening. Erin had spent a large part of her day there and let me know she had some struggles with mom. In addition, mom had fallen that morning trying to get to the phone on her own. Mom really believed up until the end that she could walk on her own. She had a small injury to her forehead, nose and eye from the fall, but was otherwise ok. Erin had her in bed, medicine on board and she was watching tv. I went back to say hello and she was watching one of her favorites, The Birdcage. She was in a good mood, smiling and doing a little shoulder-shimmy dance in bed. I stayed and did a little dancing with her to the music of the movie, then went back out to spend some time with dad. Erin, dad and I discussed how it appeared she was third spacing (fluid was storing up in her abdomen and arm and not leaving her body - a possible indication of kidney/liver failure). After Erin left, dad and I watched TV for a bit and then he went to bed. I sat in the back room with mom and watched TV while she slept. I myself went to bed around 12am. At 1:30a, I woke up to mom trying to get out of bed. She was uncomfortable and wanted to sit upright with her legs off the bed. She then wanted to go to the bathroom. She was in a state of confusion and grogginess from the meds (Morphine and Haldol), but I was able to transfer her back and forth to do this. This process took about an hour. Mom often wanted to "rest" after she scooted a bit in bed, then had trouble breathing, would lose consciousness for a minute and then be ready to try again. She was very restless at times and clearly uncomfortable. After getting her back in bed, I gave her more meds and got her into a comfy place. I waited a bit until she was sleeping again and then went back to bed myself. Mom's breathing was clearly distressed and you could hear this.
I will be completely honest and tell you that at this point, I begged God to ease her pain and give her the strength to let go. Mom was suffering and I was willing to let her go to make it stop. The hardest prayer I have ever said in my life.
I fell back asleep and woke up again at 4am to mom flailing her arms and making noises trying to sit up. I jumped out of bed and went to her and she was panicked wanting me to sit her up, she felt like she couldn't breathe. I got her upright and rubbed her back while she calmed down, then eventually moved her to her recliner. Mom sat in the recliner until 7a, trying to cough up what was in her chest. Unfortunately, it wasn't anything she could get rid of. I laid in bed listening to her, not going back to sleep. At one point, she started talking out loud, even saying something to "Sue". I went over and checked on her at one point and she asked if I had to go to work, I told her no, I took the day off. Shortly thereafter she started talking about how she needed to go to work. I made numerous attempts to get her to understand she didn't need to work, telling her she had the day off, then telling her she's retired, but she didn't believe me. Dad got up around 7:30a and came in to see us. She started telling him she needed to call the nurse line to find out when she was on the schedule. Dad told her they are retired and it's just them. They went back and forth a bit, and dad finally left to get her coffee. At that moment mom made another comment, "See, that's what I'm talking about Sue!" I asked if she was talking to Sue Bowman and she said "YES!". That made me smile. Knowing that she was in a state where she had a friend close by. Honestly, anything to take her mind off what was really going on with her body.
I stuck around until about 11a, but the need for sleep was getting too strong. I let them know I was going home and gave mom a kiss and told her I loved her. I started to walk away and dad stopped me, telling me to call when I got home so they knew I made it safe (he was worried about how tired I was). I looked at mom and said, "I love you." She didn't hear me so I said again, "Mama...I love you." She looked up at me and said "I love you too!"
That Tuesday night, Erin went and met the new caregiver at the house at around 5p. The caregiver's name was Kay and she had a lot of experience with hospice care. Erin went through mom's routine. Erin later told me that mom was extremely agreeable all evening. She didn't complain about taking her pills or morphine, she wasn't extremely loopy, and she seemed to be pretty comfortable. She was very calm. Mom even agreed to go spend a few nights in a hospice facility so dad could get some respite. If you knew mom, you know this was an unheard of idea. She made us promise her we would never put her into a facility and that she would be allowed to die at home. Erin left mom around 9p, in bed, with morphine and Haldol on board. She then called me so we could discuss the next few days and to let me know how it all went. She told me that mom's breathing sounded extremely gargled, more so than ever before. They even attempted to use a bulb syringe to suction some out, but that didn't work as it was too far down. Maggie was set to come up Wednesday to spend some nights with mom, Erin told this to mom and that was the plan. I went to bed after this. I got the call at 2:30a and knew the second I saw Erin's name. Mom had passed at right around 2am.
I was the first to get to their house at around 3:15a. I immediately went and sat with mom. I held her hand and talked to her until Erin showed up around 4ish, then sat while Erin held her hand for awhile. I took her rings off her finger and asked my dad what he would like with them and he told me to keep them. They went on my ring finger and there they will stay. I hugged her and kissed her goodbye, as did Erin and Dad. I stayed with mom while the man from the funeral home prepared her and took her away.
I learned from dad that Kay said she checked on mom hourly to see if she was comfortable and wanted more morphine. Each time mom declined and said she was good. She was very calm and seemed relaxed. No back pain, no struggling to breath. At a little before 2am, my dad woke up because Fiona was pacing up and down the hallway and barking. He laid in bed for a minute wondering what her deal was when Kay came in and told him she didn't think mom was breathing anymore and he should come check on her. We think mom said goodbye to the dogs on her way out. We believe mom knew exactly what she was doing and she was in control of this. Mom always knew the right and best way to do things.
We miss her more than words can possibly begin to convey. She was and is everything you could ever hope or dream for in a mom. It seems weird to live in a world without her. I know she is around us. I can feel her, I can "hear" her in my thoughts, and she even blinks the lights for me when I'm really having a bad moment. Mom wouldn't want us to cry for her for too long. She would tell us to grieve and then move forward. Live our lives. Love our children. Take care of dad. Adopt more animals. Party. Have fun. She is free of all her afflictions. No more cancer, diabetes, back pain, etc. She has a beautiful, heavenly body that lets her dance and hold her babies and grand-babies in heaven. When I asked Evie if she was sad, she told me "I am, but I'm ok because she is here with us, always."
So now we move forward with this new life. Remembering and loving everything that was mom. I thank all of you that have taken this journey with us. Mom loved her life. Her family, her friends, her animals, and her career.
We will be celebrating the amazing life she lived at 3pm on Saturday April 6, 2019 at Legion Hall in Everett, WA. Please, come join us as we drink wine, have food and remember all the beautiful and fun things about Patricia Rose Reilly Wells.
Love to all of you.