The Reluctant Goodbye

It was the afternoon before Easter. 2020. I should have been preparing for a meal with my loved ones under normal circumstances. Instead, I was preparing to do the hardest thing I've ever faced in my life as a pandemic began to bore its wrath upon the world. I was getting ready to say goodbye to my momma. I'd never be ready, but, it was time. As I entered the building and my feet touched the smooth white tile floor, my heart sunk. This was really happening. This wasn't just a nightmare. Two hours. I was gifted only two precious hours in that lonely nursing home, after being told to mask up and have my temperature taken. How would I ever tell my momma how much she was loved in that span of time? Would I be too late? Would she understand why I couldn't be with her, even though I told her why during the last call? The nurse led my husband and I down the hallway, past wandering residents who longed to see their loved ones again. I fixed my gaze onto the movement of my feet. I needed to focus to keep composed. One slow step in front of another. "Now, it will be a shock to you. She's unconscious from the liver failure. She can't respond to you, but...hearing is the last thing to go." My lungs struggled for air. I wanted to turn back. I wanted to run out of that building and wake up from that nightmare, where Momma was healed from kidney disease and liver failure and the world was normal again. 'Why her? This isn't fair.' my heart cried silently. I bit my lip as hard as I could bear it to keep my eyes from watering. My precious, beautiful momma, appearing to sleep, hands curled up to her chest, was there alone in that room without being able to have any visitors for nearly three weeks. I went to her side and gently put my hand over her warm hand. Jason lightly touched her other hand while standing on the other side of her. I thought of the video conference I had with her ten days prior while she was still coherent, and of my promise to her. "Momma, it's Kelly. I promised you I'd visit you as soon as the pandemic allowed." I choked back tears. 'Theyre only letting me see you because you're dying', I thought to myself, heartbrokenly. She began to moan as she desperately tried to talk to me and open her eyes. Try as she might, she could neither open her eyes nor speak. I could tell she still knew it was me, though. She knew I was there. "It's okay, Momma. I'm here. Don't worry about trying to talk. I'm here. Jason's here too. We wanted you to know we love you, and you are so, so loved by your family and friends." I brushed back a strand of her dark brown hair, as she had done countless times to me when I was a little girl. She settled down, with a relaxed expression along her brow, as if to say, "Okay, I'm listening." I suddenly realized how beautiful she was as I noticed all of the fine details of her face, all of the laugh lines that blessed my life with joyful occasions as well as countless others, in the delicate little freckles that speckled her face, in the mole that adorned her left cheek that she had gifted me through genetics. I never wanted to forget her kindness in all of the things she'd done for me. Momma was my best friend. All of the words I was afraid I wouldn't be able to say began pouring out of my heart as the fear left me and I returned as the role of a child with her ailing mother. I found the words I needed as I began to tell her how much she was loved by her family and friends. I took my time and listed each name, one by one, so she'd know. I described each plant in the garden I was going to grow, and all of the beautiful flowers that were going to sprout up to bask in the warmth of the sun. I promised her I'd finish writing my novel, and I wouldn't give up on life. I was so bitter than she was going to be robbed of being a grandmother. As the visit drew to an end, Jason whispered to her that it was okay to go sing with her mom. I couldn't bear saying it to her. A part of me still couldn't admit she was dying. I could only tell her I would always love her as I kissed her forehead one last time. I left with her love tucked away safely in my heart. I was assured I could visit again if she made it until Monday. She passed away at midnight on Monday during a raging thunderstorm. I screamed that night after the phone call, until I could scream no more as my husband held me in his arms as I wailed, mourning a life cut short at only 57 during a deadly pandemic, where gatherings and funerals were suddenly forbidden and mourning must be private affairs. I didn't even know if she was alone when she died. It wasn't fair. Her life as a CNA meant being there for others at the end of life, yet no one had been there for her. My wounds are still deep and still so raw a year later. I miss Momma like crazy, but every time I hear a chickadee sweetly singing, or I see a sunflower turn its head towards the sun, I'll be reminded of the eternal love my mother left behind for me to carry with me the rest of my life.

comments button 1 report button


Subscribe and stay tuned.

Popular Biopages