I know this is somewhat of a morbid topic, but something has fascinated me about the moments before death for a long time. Something happens. Something that defies reasonable explanation. We know when we are about to die, and we walk between worlds.
What has triggered this post is actually the book I am reading, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. You wouldn’t think this book would cause me to write about dying, but the first chapter is about a man named Eugene who contracted viral encephalitis which eventually attacked his hippocampus. He was left with memory up to a certain point in his life but anything after that was gone, and he couldn’t form new memories. I will most probably talk more about this book later but let me get to the point of this post.
After a fall which sent him back to the hospital, his daughter came to visit him and took him outside into the gardens. He turned to her and said “I am lucky to have a daughter like you” which caught her off-guard because she couldn’t remember a time when he had said something like that. He then died at 1am the next morning.
I saw it with my father. He had lung cancer and was in the hospital, and he was getting delirious, or at least, that’s what everyone titled it. He kept seeing people in his room and around his bed that weren’t there, speaking to them, telling them to go away. That morning he asked the nurses for the time, he wanted to know when it was 7 o’clock.
I was late visiting that day, after getting held up with work, but I got the hospital and my dad was awake and lucid. We chatted. My mum and sister were there, so his family was with him. He was joking and laughing with us, and then he just stopped breathing, at 7pm.
My mother suffered a great deal after getting what we only know as a UTI (jury is still out on what actually happened at the hospital and what was actually wrong with her, but we’ll let sleeping dogs lie). She had parkinson’s and was diabetic, so the infection she suffered from really took a toll on her body. At that time I was living with my sister, where my mum also lived, this was just after my divorce. I am grateful for the few months I had with her.
Anyway she came home from the hospital and couldn’t walk or sit up by herself, so we helped her into bed, out of bed, into a chair, etc. One morning, I was moving her from her wheelchair into an armchair so that I could feed her and she didn’t let go, gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me she loved me. Telling each other that we loved each other was really only something that started happening after my father died, we just weren’t like that as a family, so it wasn’t unusual, but it felt different. It had lots of purpose behind it, and it did catch me off-guard.
A few days later she died. The strange thing is that I wasn’t as upset as I thought I would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was upset, I’m crying whilst writing this post and it’s years later, but I knew she had said goodbye to me and I was at peace with that.
But that’s not all. In those few days leading up to her death she was seeing people who weren’t there. She kept saying that she needed to get her white dress and handbag ready and even though she couldn’t get out of the chair and walk, we had to keep stopping her because when she was seeing the people in the room, she kept trying to go with them.
Some other things that happened which some people may consider strange, weird, purely imagination on my part, which is fine. It’s me and who I am, I make no apologies and although I usually don’t make these things public, I have decided to speak up because it might help others understand what they are going through.
In the years between my father’s death and my mother’s I would have conversations with my dad. We’d talk about things that were happening in my life, and he’d look over me, guide me, give me answers where and when he could. Two weeks before my mum died, he told me that she was almost ready to go and that he had been waiting for her.
When we were at the hospital after my mum died, the family went to go and see her one last time. My daughter and I stayed behind, I didn’t need to go and see her again, we had said our goodbyes. While I was sitting in the waiting area I had a vision of my mum and dad. They were young again and they were dancing. They said bye and danced away. I haven’t spoken to my dad again the same way since then.
Anyway, struggling to see what I’m typing now, so I’ll end this post here. I hope this is helpful to someone. Send a comment if you have any questions.