Monday, February 11, 2013

A Perfect Ending

My mother-in-law passed away.  After several days in CCU (that's the Cardiac Care Unit, which is intensive care for heart patients), it was apparent that the end was imminent.  Mom was transferred to a step-down unit so that she and the family could have more privacy.  We're a large family and there were people in and out constantly.  In this room there could be as many people as wanted to be there and no one would bother us.

My mother-in-law was pretty coherent until her final day of life, which was such a gift.  She had the opportunity to tell everyone that she loved them and we had the opportunity to do the same.  She was cracking jokes and making everyone laugh.  The day before she died, she was listening to Italian music and singing along with it.

The afternoon of her final day, it was becoming clear that this would be her final day.  Her six children gathered around her bed and kept vigil.  They only left her side if they absolutely had to.  The extended family - daughters-in-law, son-in-law, grandchildren, their spouses, great-grandchildren - respected that sacred space and only went in occasionally and briefly to let them know that we were still there supporting them.  We didn't say a word, we were just there.

Around 8 PM we were all called into mom's room.  We stood in perfect silence, keeping vigil as mom was crossing over.  At one point she stopped breathing and we were sure she was gone.  Everyone started crying.  Then she took another breath.  One of her sons said, "Okay mom, you're in charge.  You're going on your terms."  Through our tears, everyone started to laugh.  It was while we were laughing that she took her final breath.

During her dying process, she was trying to keep things light.  She made us send her out on the wings of laughter, not a river of tears.  It was exactly as SHE wanted it.  What a perfect ending.

Love,  Paula


  1. Beautiful. Thinking of you all. ~~Kelly

  2. Paula,
    She was truly a great lady...full of love and strength that she channeled to her family. These things will live on forever. She is surely dancing and singing with the angels and taking care of things. With all my thoughts, prayers and sympathy, Patty Smith

  3. What a beautiful story Paula. Thanks for sharing.