Friday, April 18, 2008

Mama Has Passed On

At 9:25 this evening, surrounded by family & friends, Rebecca Garrick died. She was my mama.

I have a lot of thoughts, and I want to preserve them as best I can. This may be a little bit exhibitionist of me, but I'm going to share with each of you some of my thoughts in the last hour and a half.

• I was just about to take out the garbage when the Hospice Nurse called me into the room. She could tell that we were in her final moments. Five to ten minutes later, she breathed her last breath. Her breathing had been labored for some time. And her body was finally at rest.

• When she passed, I did what Mom told me to: I looked to the ceiling. I looked up to the right, to the left, to all four corners of the room, and right above the bed. At one time, Mom read extensively about near-death experiences. And she told me that when she passes, look up. I did.

• I am sad, but also relieved. I miss her, and will miss her, but I also have come to accept that this is a natural part of life.

• When the Hospice nurse was listening for a heartbeat and there finally was not one anymore -- before she said anything -- she reached her hand to Mama's face, slid her hand down Mama's face, and covered over her eyes. It seemed a little over-dramatic to me. I thought they only did that in movies. My Mom's sister, Judy, had to ask her, "Is she gone?" And she replied, "Yes."

• That's when the crying broke out. Hearing all the ladies cry, I couldn't help but break down a little myself. No shame in that, of course, but I just prefer to do my crying in private. So I let a little bit out, hugged everyone and cried.

I'll especially remember hugging Dad & crying. We've hugged a lot -- he's good at that. We've hugged, in this very house, at times when I was leaving and times when I've come home. We've embraced in times of joy -- I'll never forget us hugging and jumping up & down in our living room the night the Braves won the World Series in 1995. And now we've hugged in a time of extreme sorrow. And I've seen him cry before, but his face this time, with the grief, was difficult to take in. I'm sure it was true vice versa, as well. He told me he was proud of me -- how I've held up & handled all that has needed handling. That meant a lot. He's told me in recent weeks that he's been impressed with my sister & I -- how we've cared for Mom. He said that it has given him a lot of comfort for if ever/whenever he gets into that rough of a condition.

• The WORST of it for me (by a country mile -- no other part of this was more difficult...) was seeing my grandmother, Mom's mother (we call her Mama Jean), break down & cry. I'll never forget the expression on her face. I can't imagine the pain of watching her grown daughter suffer & die at her relatively young age. Mama Jean hardly wanted to leave Mama's side in these last days. She loved her so much.

We had just been talking, in fact, yesterday about how Mama Jean had a third daughter. Her name was Jennifer. She died soon after being born. Of Mama Jean's three children, she's had to watch two of them perish. And we even received the horrible news Monday that Mom's sister, Judy, has a tumor in her right breast. The doctors do think that it may be benign, but they haven't completed the tests yet. PLEASE pray for Judy. I just hate it for Mama Jean right now, and I don't want to imagine what any more suffering she would have to endure.


Lloyd said...

I'm so sorry, Phillip. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers, of course. If how you turned out is any indication, your mom was a very good woman.

Matt said...

Really sorry for all of that and hope that you find comfort and peace in a difficult time. You are a good man Philip,


Nathan said...

I'm so sad to be reading this post. I'll be praying for you and your family.

David said...

I love you Phil. I am praying for you right now, and I will continue. My heart hurts for you, I know you love your mother so very much and I am humbled by your intense character throughout this entire journey. I will hold off calling you for a few days, but know that I am regularly thinking and calling out to God on your behalf. Jesus loves you and so do I,