More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________
Friday, April 3, 2009
My parents passed 45 days apart. Mom had emphysema and Dad had lung cancer. Mom never wanted to grow up, and since Dad was such a strong caretaker, she didn’t have to. She enjoyed having someone wait on her. When we found out that Mom had only a year to live, we didn’t tell Dad at first because we didn’t want to upset him.
I think it was a mistake not to be honest with him and allow him time to process with us. When he went in for a routine exam and the doctors found a spot on his lungs he became very concerned, not for himself so much as for Mom. He had taken care of her all her life and he knew that she couldn’t make it on her own. We didn’t know how much Dad had been doing for her until he started chemo and could no longer care for her. His two treatments were very hard on him. He told me that he didn’t want to have any more and I said, “Then don’t.” I told him it was his choice and that he should decide what he wanted to do. I felt he needed to know that Mom didn’t have all that much longer, so I told him. He was actually relieved to know that the burden of caring for her would not be passed on to the rest of us!
Mom was in denial about her own illness as well as the condition Dad was in. Their 50th wedding anniversary was coming up and we knew that one or the other of them would not be around to celebrate it, so we offered them an early celebration. Soon afterward Dad was taken into hospice care where he went into a coma. He was in a coma and hadn’t eaten in days. After a few days he rallied, sat up in bed, ate a meal and watched the Titans game with Mom by his side. He went back into a coma after the game, and we knew the end was near. We called Mom in so she could tell him goodbye. Ten minutes after mom told him goodbye, he departed peacefully. As I watched Dad’s spirit leave his body I was not frightened. It was like watching him get out of a car. The body was just a vehicle he had been riding in. His spirit seemed to be hovering in the room as if he were checking to make sure we were all going to be okay.
Mom rallied for the funeral—entertaining friends and family she hadn’t seen in years. It was endearing to hear people tell how much Dad had meant to them and share their stories and memories with us. After the burial Mom went home, crawled into bed and started fading in and out of consciousness. Over the next 45 days, (when she was coherent), she told us how much she missed Dad and wanted to go to him. She frequently wanted to know which family members were in town and who else was in the house. Sometimes she conversed with her deceased mother as if she was in the room with her. One week prior to Mom’s death, hospice staff began making visits to her home. The decision was made to remove all medical treatment. Her breathing became deep and normal even without her oxygen supply. A few days later her spirit left her body peacefully and without a struggle. When Mom left, she didn’t hover or look back. She was on her way to find Dad.
The gifts of my parents’ passing gave me were many. I no longer have a fear of death. I find that all other fear-based ideas no longer make sense to me. When my teenage daughter was learning to drive, I didn’t worry about her. I knew that she would be fine, no matter what happened. I’ve gotten to know my parents better since their death than when they were alive. I am comforted in knowing that they are out of their limited bodies. I am now able to sit in silence with people and know them by feeling their energy rather than having to use words. I enjoy the comfort of silence.
Dad’s spirit is with me still, and he lets me know it by bringing me the smell of cigarette smoke. I carry on daily conversations with him. I’ll ask questions aloud and he will answer in my head. Mom, however, didn’t visit for three years after her death, and then it was only after I mentioned to my husband that I wished I could reconcile the unfinished business left between us. The same year my daughter graduated from high school I began to dream of Mom. In one dream she told me to give the silver heart-shaped key ring to my daughter for her graduation. I didn’t know what key ring she was talking about and it bothered me for days. I opened the closet and saw a box of Mom’s things that I had not gone through. Out of curiosity, I took the box from the shelf and looked through it. I came across a small cardboard jeweler’s box and inside it was a silver heart-shaped key ring exactly like the one Mom had shown me in the dream. Needless to say, I wrapped the gift and gave it to my daughter for her graduation.
Looking back, I don’t know why we buried our parents in the ground. It seems so silly to have a gravesite to tend to. The loved one is not there waiting for us to come and talk with them. The body is like a vacant house—the occupant has moved out and the place is empty!
Labels: Death of parents