Sunday, May 25, 2008

Friday, May 23, 2008; 9:54pm

I will never forget this day.
My Gramaine, Mary Lou Rogers, passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones. I think I speak for everyone there that the love in the room was palatable.

On Tuesday, May 13, Gramaine went to the doctor. She had pneumonia and was feeling pretty puny. She was admitted to the hospital so she could be given oxygen and fight the infection. She was taken to the emergency room, and had to wait for an attending physician.
To avoid the wait, a gifted pediatrician ordered an x-ray so she could be admitted quickly.
The x-ray confirmed pneumonia in her left lung.
But there was also a mass on her right lung.

The girls & I went to see her Tuesday evening, again on Thursday, and yet again on Saturday with Chad. She was feeling better. She talked and laughed.
I am thankful that Carys got to hold a few spirited conversations with "Grammy".

Gramaine had a biopsy to confirm the cancer diagnosis. She was released later Tuesday afternoon. I'm told she perked up as soon as she was discharged. It was so good to be home!

Wednesday was an okay day. She visited with family, ate, drank a glass of wine & watched the sunset on the lake.

When she woke up Thursday, things were very different. Hospice came. Gramaine couldn't say much, was having difficulties swallowing, needed constant oxygen, and was drifting in & out of consciousness.

Friday was the day we all knew something was going to happen.
I packed up the girls and headed to my aunt's house. Everyone had gathered there to be comforted. That's what we do in our family. We drink a glass of wine together. We eat together. We cry together. We laugh together. We're just together.
I was not expecting Gramaine to be in the condition she was in. I had just talked to her before her biopsy, only days ago. I had just seen her a few days before that. She was sick then. But she was talking. And laughing. Friday was a marked change in her condition.

The day went on, and we decided to take shifts during the night to administer medications.
Gramaine's breathing was getting worse; we could hear her lungs filling with fluid. Her medications were given, and everyone was getting prepared for bed - and a long night of shifts.

I will never forget the next few hours. Never.
I was sitting on the couch with the girls - watching SpongeBob & willing my children to sleep. Gramaine was in a hospital bed, set up in the dining room so she could see her favorite view - the sunset on the lake.
At 9:36pm, I heard someone talking. No one was in the room with me, but the girls. They were silent. There was no one. But Gramaine in the next room. I could see her pillow moving. I could hear her voice. I couldn't make out what she said. But she said something. A whole sentence.
She'd not been able to talk for while. But I just heard her speak.

I ran in. Aunt Candy followed. Candy kissed Gramaine's hand and her eyelids fluttered. She was trying to open her eyes! We talked to her. Rubbed her hands. There was no response.

Everyone came into the house - without being told. They all just knew.
Gramaine was given more morphine, and we all watched and listened to her breathing change yet again.
At 9:53pm, with most of her loved ones holding her hands, Gramaine opened her eyes. I was excited to see her eyes - I shouted, "Hi Gramaine! We're here! Hi! We're all here!" Everyone told her hello & we were happy to see her -- that we loved her.
Earlier on Friday, we received the biopsy results. Single-cell carcinoma. End stage. Terminal.
This cannot be confirmed (nor do we need it to be), but we're confident the cancer started as cervical or ovarian cancer, and spread throughout her body.
We talked openly around Gramaine, knowing that she needed to know that dreaded information.

She looked at all of us - she scanned the room. It was only a second or two, but it seemed like a lifetime.

And then we all told her it was okay to go. It was okay. We would all be okay.
She pursed her lips, as if trying to expel her last breath. The look on her face was a look of relief and release.
And she went. At 9:54pm, her spirit left her body and her pain ended.
She looked beautiful, peaceful and rested. Her face and body were no longer etched with the labor of breathing.

Our family has been given the amazing gift of being with her in her final days and moments.
Her passage to Heaven was filled with love. I am so thankful that I got to be a part of this. I've experienced the miracle of my children's births. And now, the miracle of my beloved Gramaine's peaceful death. Watching life come into the world is a wonderful gift. Watching life leave this world is just as miraculous.

We have carried out her wishes the best we could. She would be pleased.


leigh said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that. I'm glad to hear that you have such a remarkable family.

Nikki said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful way to tell her story! Thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

That was just beautiful Skye...I'm in tears right now. I'm sorry for your loss but I'm happy and thankful that you all got to be with her and hold her hand during her transition.

Steve said...

I'm sorry to hear that you've lost a loved one Skye. It's never easy but it sounds like it was a memorable and beautiful experience the way you tell it.

Melissa said...

What a beautiful story. I'm so sorry for your loss. I find myself with tears in my eyes and envious of the closeness of your extended family. You are truly a strong and amazing person