A Good Ache - Sarah Mae
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A Good Ache

Around nine years ago I was told my mom was going to die. Many of you have followed the story and you know that she just kept on living.

She lived through a hospice stay.

She lived through a liver that was busted.

She just kept on.

I used to say she had nine lives. Her latest life was in Florida, living on her own, swimming most days, enjoying life. But a few months ago she called me up and told me that the Lord told her this was going to be her last year to live. I don’t know if I believed her, but I listened. She said she had a bucket list, and one of the things on it was to go to the “Dolly museum.”

Me: You want to go to the Dolly museum? Like, Dolly Parton??!

My mom: No! The Salvador Dali museum!

Much better. The Dali museum in St. Petersburg Florida. And she wanted to eat a seafood feast overlooking the ocean. Yes, okay, I told her I would find a way. She wanted me to come in April, but I told her I couldn’t, Thailand and all. So we decided on the weekend of May 12th. I booked a ticket and she booked a hotel room.

I went to Thailand. I came home and slept. I never called her.

After sleeping for a week, I got a call, on a Wednesday. I was dropping my daughter off at a friends. It was a Florida number.

“Hi Sarah, we need to talk about your mom. Should we resuscitate or not if your mom goes into cardiac arrest?”

“What? What are you talking about? Listen, I know nothing, can you please fill me in?”

The woman on the other end, an “end-of-life counselor” or something like that, told me my mom was in the hospital and she wasn’t doing well. I asked when she had been checked in and she said April 5th. It was April 20th.

My hands were shaking. Everything felt hot. I asked to talk to a doctor. He called. He said things like, “We can’t treat her liver because of the blot clots…we think we found cancer…hemorrhaging…lethargic…infection in the blood…comfort measures.”

I went home and booked a ticket to Florida for early the next morning. As I landed in Florida, I saw that I had missed two phone calls from the hospital. I called while the plane was pulling up to the gate. “Is she okay?” I answered? They had to do some procedure they needed permission to do. My sister gave them permission.

I just kept praying. “Please God, just don’t let her die before I see her. And please let me be able to talk to her, I want her to see me.”

I got my car rental, drove quickly, got to the hospital, and found her room. I heard her before I saw her. She was yelling.

I walked in and went right up to her and took her hand and said, “Sar-ey is here”. She used to call me Sar-ey. I tried to get her to look at me but her eyes just stared up to the ceiling. Every 5-10 seconds she would yell and try and move.

“I’m here mom. I’m here. It’s okay.”

No response. Just yelling and eyes to the ceiling.

“Comfort measures” they all said. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

It means you need to look at putting her in hospice and making her comfortable as she dies.

But what if she isn’t dying?! I’ve been through this before.

Two days ago she talked to my sister and told them she was getting out. She told her cousin we were going on our trip. She was talking. But I missed it. Because I never called.

Can we just try and help her brain to clear up? Can you give her that medicine, please, just one more time?

One more time.

Yelling. Eyes to the ceiling.

Pain meds. The more you give, the worse it makes her because her liver doesn’t process anymore. Ease her pain or kill her. That seemed the choices. Excruciating.

I got to the hospital on Thursday. On Friday I made the decision to have them stop all treatment and have her admitted to hospice. While I waited for them to pick her up, I rubbed her hand and talked with her.

Was I making the right decision? Was I killing her?

Excruciating.

We got to the hospice and they couldn’t get her pain meds because the doctor couldn’t be reached and she was yelling and God, it was so awful.

Eyes to the ceiling.

Finally the meds.

Yelling off and on through the night.

I cried and prayed and cried and was torn up over whether or not I was doing the right thing. Could she have gotten better? Did I cut treatment too soon?

Excruciating.

Morning and silence. No more yelling, just breathing.

The doctor came in. “How long will it take for her to die?” I asked. “The body could take 5-7 days to shut down with no food or water” he told me. I had to leave the next day. She’ll die alone. And I’m killing her.

“God, please don’t let her die alone.”

My in-laws were in Florida visiting family and so they were only two hours from where I was. They came to see me. I asked my mother-in-law to go with me to my moms apartment so I could see it and get a few things. It felt wrong to be in my moms place without her there. It felt wrong to start touching and moving her things. We spent about two hours there, looking for pictures and journals and anything I could take with me.

When we got back to the hospice, a counselor came in and asked if I had any questions. “No.” I said.

But my mother-in-law said she had a question. “It doesn’t seem like it’s going to take 5-7 days for her die. Is that really true?”

The counselor looked at her and said, “No. Do you hear that gurgling in her throat? That’s her lungs shutting down. She could go today.”

Grace.

And sadness and relief and deep ache.

My in-laws left so I could be alone with my mom.

I didn’t leave her side.

And then I knew. The gurgling stopped and there was just breathing.

I pulled my chair up close and cried and played her music and held her hand and rubbed her head. I knew she was going to go soon.

I said things to her, special, sacred things that are for her alone.

All this time her eyes just went back and forth and back and forth.

And then her eyes stopped.

I walked over to her other side where I stood, watching her breathe. Listening.

“You’re almost there mom. Almost done. I’ll be right here with you.”

And like a clock winding down, her breath just wound down.

Slower and slower.

And then,

it was gone.

Just stillness.

7:16pm.

On April 23, 2016 at 7:16pm my mom took her last breath. She went home.

“You give life, you are love, you bring light to the darkness. You give hope, you restore every heart that is broken. Great are you Lord. It’s your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to you only.”

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Susan Lynn Sherman Potts | 8/9/52 – 4/23/16

SM

From Darkness to Light (a post written by my mom on how she quit drinking)

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  • Erica

    Wow. This sounds so very familiar. However, when our loved ones go to be with the Lord and we are there, we are so close to heaven. Lots of love and prayers.

  • Power of Modesty

    Sarah Mae, thank you for sharing. Ive walked this loss similar with my mom, its shocking and hard. and yet there’s a beautiful side in the releasing from the temporal to the eternal. Hugs my friend

  • TheHeSaidSheSaidExp

    Sending hugs and prayers and shedding tears for you.

  • JW

    Crying for you friend. Praise God she knew the Lord and what a blessing that you got to be there. xoxo

  • Joelle Povolni

    My heart aches with you. One of my best friends lost her mom in April also. We cry together and laugh together as sometimes there are no words. Thank you for sharing!

  • Shannon Bradbury

    So sorry about your loss. What a beautiful story of redemption.Praying for you!!!

  • Tami Lewis

    I am so sorry. Please feel me hugging you as if I were actually standing there with you.

  • Tam Hodge

    Just prayers. And love. You are a good daughter, Sarah Mae.

  • marieusa

    Sending you tons of hugs even if I don’t know you. I loved your post, tears came to my eyes…but it was emotion, your story was so beautiful. I am happy that she was with you and that you were with her. Thank you for sharing (PS I love the picture of you and your mom and the cats).xoxo

  • Claire

    I’m so sorry for this huge loss. My father died two weeks after your mother, across the country from me, and I was not able to get there in time. I too regret not calling him in recent weeks. Also, he was not a believer, so I’m praying frantically that he somehow was given an opportunity to say yes to Jesus at the last moment of his life. I never acccurately imagined what it would be like to lose a parent, and I’m sure losing a mother is even worse. I’m so glad that you were able to be there for her at the end, and I’m sure she knew you were there.

  • Julie

    I think I wrote on your FB page. I am SO sorry. It is SO hard to see your mom dying. My mom went to be with Jesus in 2005, and it is still hard. I just want to pick the phone up and call her SO.MANY.TIMES. I keep thinking of all the grandchildren she is missing. I am hopeful that God allows her to look and see us and all her 9 beautiful grandchildren! That makes me smile. She died of an unknown disease she had for 3 years. She slowly went downhill and died in her sleep. I wanted to be there with her and hold her one last time, and couldn’t. They had already taken her away. Hardest day of my life. My world was shaken totally. I am SO thankful for Jesus and my hubby pulling me through. I couldn’t have made it without them. And knowing I was still here for my 1 yr old daughter. I just wanted to go to Heaven and be with her. At the time, it seemed all that mattered. Why Jesus took her at the young age of 55, I will never know this side of Heaven. I am SO thankful that we WILL see our loved ones again in Heaven with Jesus, Amen?? God has His reasons and we are to just keep plugging on for Him. We all have our own unique story to tell and your story will reach others for Jesus! That is good news. Praying for you. I am here to chat if you want to e-mail me or FB message me. Thank you for your amazing ministry. I am in awe….

  • Shanna Crum

    Wow. That was a year jerker. You have done well, Sarah. You have done well sitting with her till the end. :). Hugs, my friend.

  • ClubTwenty

    Such a sad but important read. I love that the photo of your mom has pets in the background- such a love-filled photo. So sorry.

  • Anne

    I am so sorry, Sarah. What an amazing story. I am praying for your family.

  • Sharon

    Sarah, my deepest condolences on the passing of your mother. I know how hard it is. I was with my dad in the hospital after he fell badly a couple of years ago. I was able to spend some precious time with him, and I think he might have even remembered who I was after months and months of him telling me that I was wrong when I told him I was his daughter. I was with him the night before he passed away, able to have the chance to rub his brow and soothe his yelling and fighting. None of it is easy.

    But though our hearts grieve on this side of eternity, we know that there is a grand homecoming in the future. And we’ll have hugs forever…

    GOD BLESS.

  • Pendle Stitches

    My prayers are with you at this time of loss. What a blessing that you could hold her hand through her passing. I couldn’t be with my dad and it is the greatest regret of my life. Hoping the good memories are a comfort at this time.

  • Heather Bixler

    I am so sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family.

  • Your friend

    My prayers and love are with you and your family, Sarah. This brought so many feeling to the surface for me, as my mother and I don’t have a good relationship currently. And as I read this I realized none of the reasons really matter in the end. I’m going to write my mother a letter and pray it’s received well. Thank you for baring your heart and sharing your story. Yours and your mothers story may just be the catalyst to a reconciling of my own mother and I. Tender hugs….

  • Your Friend

    As I read this, I felt like I was reliving my own loss. Only my loss was not my mother, but my daughter (age 22). She had grade 4 brain cancer and within a year of diagnosis her life ended. I too felt as though I was killing her. Oh, the guilt that you carry wondering if you are doing the right thing. I still hear her screams with moments of silence as her last days were gut wrenching. Such a feeling of helplessness that I have ever experienced. You wonder if those horrible moments of screaming and pain will ever go away, they haunt your thoughts. Out of no where flashes of those moments dominate your mind and you find yourself weeping uncontrollably. All I can say is that God was the ONLY thing that brought me through it and He is the ONLY thing that keeps me going. I do understand. Our treasure is knowing that there will be life again.

  • Steph Courchesne

    Sarah, I just found you through a friend. She enjoyed you and told me I NEEDED to meet you. You caught her attention because of who you are but also because we now live in the same town. Our family just moved into your town last summer. I was going through your blog to get to know you and found your post about your mom. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my mom almost 10 years ago and know that the grief can be so deep and painful. I am praying for you and will keep my eye out for you as we walk around town.

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