My Mom’s Incredible Gift
My Mom’s Incredible Gift
I need to assure you that every detail that I give you about what happened leading up to 2:00 AM, March 24, 2007 is exact.
Today is Saturday, March 24, 2007. At 2:00 AM, just two hours after midnight, my mom, Ruth Elizabeth Stoltie, passed away in Bayfront Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida. As much as I believe in planning and preparing for life’s trials, there are some that are overwhelming, no matter how much you may think you are prepared. I was ready, but this was still devastating for me.
It was just at 1:35 AM when our phone rang. My wife, Kim, and I had only been asleep for a bit more than an hour. The days before had been more emotionally draining for me than anything I had ever experienced. As a matter of fact, the real start of my emotional rollercoaster began on December 14, 2006. That day, it was after 4:00 AM when our phone rang. It was my mom. Her house is only fifteen minutes away, if I’m not pushing the car. Kim picked up the phone and Mom said, “I did it again. I’m on the floor in my bedroom and I need your help. I can’t get up.”
I threw on some clothes, jumped in the car, and raced to her house. This was not the first time my mom had fallen and needed help in the middle of the night. She had insisted long ago that I have a set of keys for her front door, since there were numerous times that I’d go to her house, and she would be physically unable to reach and unlock the door, so those keys got us in to find her still on the floor of her bedroom. She explained that on her way back to bed from the bathroom her knees had given out, and she had braced her back against the wall, allowing her to slowly slide down to the floor rather than falling. Dealing with diabetes and arthritis, and being much heavier than was healthy, she had only been able to reach a phone after hours of struggling, eventually pulling the phone down from her bedside night stand by swiping at the phone cord with one of her canes.
With Kim’s help and every ounce of my strength, we got her back onto her bed. She told us that her knees were burning from being on the floor unable to move for so long. We set a drink by her bedside, tucked her in, gave her a kiss goodnight, and headed back home. But the next morning she called again, telling me that her knees were so swollen and painful that she couldn’t get out of bed, asking if I would please come back and help her get up for the day. From that day on, she was no longer able to stand up on her own, and the only person on the planet she trusted to lift her to a standing position- was me.
Over the following two weeks, every morning before getting to the regular responsibilities of my day, I would drive to Mom’s house to help her out of bed, get her to and from the bathroom, and make sure she was comfortable in her favorite chair with some food and her morning insulin shot. Some days my schedule could be altered to accommodate visiting in the afternoon, and other days I’d have to wait until early evening to get her back out of her chair and to the bathroom, and then again into the chair with some dinner. I’d return near 10:30 and get her to the bathroom one last time before tucking her into bed. The next day, we did it all over again.
Christmas Eve has always belonged to Mom. No matter what Kim, the kids, and I had going earlier on Christmas Eve, we would always end our evening celebrating at my mom’s. Despite the strain of the situation we had a great night again. We opened presents and talked and laughed about old times, as she often loved to do. The night ended, I tucked her in, and first thing the next morning, Christmas morning, I drove back over and got her up to celebrate Christmas as my sister Susie and her kids took their turn to visit. I returned again near dinner and, of course, as the day came to a close, I returned to continue my new ritual of helping her get to bed. It was a great Christmas with her.
My mom was always a proud woman, and to find herself without mobility was really a devastating embarrassment. She felt ashamed. It took everything I had to persuade her to leave her house to go for a basic check-up at her doctor’s office, but on the 28th of December, I prevailed. Amazingly, Kim and I, with the support, logic, and persuasion of Mom’s Dr. Serag, were then able to convince Mom to go straight from Dr. Serag’s office to the hospital for a complete and thorough evaluation. Two weeks later, on January 9th, I helped lift my mom out of her hospital bed, stand, get into a wheel chair, and she was transported and checked into a nursing home for rehabilitation. I was so hopeful then. Dr. Serag was certain that Mom could regain mobility, though she might not ever walk without a walker.
That’s not the way it went. As strong willed a woman as Mom had always been, she never was great with physical discipline. Days went by with no real improvement. She seemed to be giving up. She would say things like, “Seventy-seven, that’s a good number.” I knew that she meant that she was seventy-seven years old, and ready to give up on life. It was a shattering message. She would again tell the story that she had told so many times over the last few years of the man down the street from her house who had been so lucky. One night he had just finished his favorite meal, sat back in his favorite recliner, and drifted off to the afterlife. I know Mom hoped and prayed that she would be granted that same painless passage for herself.
Days became weeks living in the nursing home, and my mom had yet to stand. The last time she was on her feet was when I lifted her out of her transport wheel chair to get into her nursing home bed. With such inactivity she was obviously becoming less mobile by the day. I stood next to her bed one day with tears in my eyes, telling her that she would never be able to go back home again if she didn’t make progress. I pleaded with her to make the choice to do all she could to regain some mobility, and assured her that Susie, Kim, and I would even come up with a plan to find her a new place to live that would be comfortable and safe, and allow us to visit and stay part of her life. I ended my attempt at motivation by vowing that I would support whatever decision she were to make. If she wanted to fight, I’d be there to fight with her. If she wanted to give up, I’d help in any way I could, and never criticize or make her feel guilty about her decision. I told her to think it through over the weekend, and we’d formulate a plan the first of the next week.
“Mom, how are you doing today?” I said when I called her that Monday.
“Okay,” she responded. Even her voice was becoming weaker every day.
“How did Physical Therapy go today?” I asked, with a positive, assumptive attitude.
“I didn’t go,” she admitted, and then gave another of her excuses to justify her lack of progress.
I pictured my rehabilitated Mom moving to an upscale facility with a private room where she would get in and out of bed without assistance, and regain a reasonably acceptable quality of life. I prayed she’d commit to making that happen. “Mom, how far do you think you might get with your therapy?” I asked, trying to subtly phrase my life and death question.
“Not too far.” Her voice sounded so faint and despondent, my heart sank. I knew that was her way of saying that she had truly given up. I had promised my support, no matter what decision she made, so despite my anguish, I told her it was okay.
Susie, Kim, and I researched our options. We consulted an attorney about her modest estate, and how best to prepare for the likelihood of assisted living for the rest of her life. We found another nursing home that would allow her to have a private room that we could decorate just the way Mom would like, and the plan was to wait for the couple of weeks for a room to become available.
On Monday, March 19th I got a call at my office from my mom at the nursing home. She never liked to bother me at work, so I braced myself for bad news. But instead, she proudly announced “I walked!”
I was staggered. She hadn’t gotten out of bed without being hoisted in a sling to a wheel chair since she was checked into the home back in January. And she hadn’t actually stood up totally by herself since that December night when she’d called needing help after falling on the floor. Being immobile and bedridden for almost three months had weakened her terribly. “Walked- where did you walk?” I asked, in disbelief.
“Around my room,” she said.
There was triumph in her voice, but I couldn’t imagine that she had walked. “How did you get up? Who helped you?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but I walked! And I wanted to tell my family!”
“You don’t remember how you got up? Well, how did you get back into bed?”
Very matter-of-fact she said, “The nurses helped me.”
Telling my mom that I didn’t believe her was not an option. Why challenge her? I couldn’t very well squash that enthusiasm. So I put on my most upbeat tone and said, “Well congratulations! Good for you Mom. I’m so proud of you!”
“I don’t want to keep you,” she said. “I know you’re busy. But I wanted you to know- I walked!”
“I love you Mom.”
“Love you too- I’ll talk to you anon,” and then she hung up the phone.
I was dumbfounded. We contacted the nursing home to find out what really happened and they explained that not only had Mom not walked, she had called 911 that previous night, telling them that she and a bunch of patients were being abducted. That should have been an obvious red flag to the supposedly trained staff at the nursing home. Something was definitely wrong. Every one of them missed it.
Later that day Mom was transported to Bayfront Hospital and was in the intensive care ward being treated for a massive CO2 build up that, as they explained, had been caused by pneumonia, and the fact that she had been on her back for so long. The nursing home had signed papers executed by Mom and Dr. Serag clearly stating that no extraordinary measures and no machinery would be used to sustain her in the event of a medical emergency. In spite of those clear instructions, Dr. Serag himself prescribed that she be put on a ventilator for as long as three days to see if the CO2 could be reduced to normal levels. That was Monday evening.
Tuesday morning, I arrived at room 440 to find Susie leaning over Mom’s hospital bed, sobbing and talking to her as if Mom could understand everything. She was totally unresponsive. Between her tears, Susie went on, “I’m going to do it Mama. I’m going to do like I promised. Phillip and I are going to get that tube out of you. I know that’s what you want. We’re going to do it Mama. I’m sorry I couldn’t get you the Rachmaninoff you wanted.” My mom’s love of the piano had led her to request her favorite piano music be played as part of her last wishes. It was something she had always talked about. Susie was weeping, with a tissue pressed against her face, and Mom had tubes sticking down her neck and nose, and wires all over her, with a monitor flashing and beeping over her head. It was more than I could take. My eyes filled up. My throat closed. I walked around to the side of the bed where Mom could see me if I could wake her, and pushed my sobbing voice, “Mom. Mom!” Her eyelids fluttered, and opened just slightly. “Do you want to get rid of the tube?” I knew she could see me but could not respond. I picked her hand up in mine and said, “Squeeze my hand one time if you want to get the tube out.” She squeezed. It was Mom asking me to let her go.
Telling the nurses was heartbreaking. I was asking them to let my mom die. Then I found myself standing there, totally despondent, being convinced by nurses and doctors alike that if I insisted on taking the tube out, it would be a major mistake. They wanted time to wean her off of the machine. If they suddenly just removed the tube, Mom would be deprived of oxygen, and it could be terribly painful. That got me. Maybe they were right. I found hope in their plan, so they won.
I have always been amazed at how Mom has never had wrinkles in her forehead. But moments after I told her that we would need to leave the tubes, she grimaced to the point that her eyebrows almost met. It hurts even now to picture the pain in her face. That same contortion recurred every few minutes, along with intense trembling of her head and hands. Susie and I stayed with her, taking turns rubbing her forehead and holding her hands. I have never felt so helpless.
Every breath taken by a patient connected to that ventilator is categorized and displayed on the machine as either, Assisted, Simultaneous, or Mandatory. Most of her breaths were Assisted, helped by the machine. The few breaths she took on her own were Simultaneous. At that point, none were Mandatory breaths forced by the machine alone. Her blood pressure was measured automatically every half hour. It remained strong. Her heart rate was good, between 82 and 94 beats per minute. Her temperature was normal. Since she was obviously very stable, Susie left for home and her kids just after 5:00 PM with my promise that I’d call if there were any change. I stayed until 6:00 and took a break too, returning shortly after 9:00. When I got back into the hospital entrance and was halfway up the fifteen or so stairs that lead to the elevator, the guard yelled, “Hey, you got a pass?”
“No,” I said. “I didn’t know I needed one.” He told me that everybody who came after regular visiting hours was required to have a pass. Then he hopped on the phone, called the fourth floor to get permission to let me up, and he filled out the pass- a two inch by three inch adhesive sticker. The process took five minutes. With my pass sticking to my shirt, I made my way up the stairs for another typical wait at the elevator.
My mom looked just as pathetic as when I’d left three hours earlier. But, all of her “numbers” were still good. Every time Mom would scrunch her face, I felt so powerless. “I can give her Adivan,” the nurse said. “It’s an anti-anxiety medication.” That sounded like the perfect solution. Why hadn’t a doctor told me about that? By 11:30 Mom seemed to be comfortably sleeping, so I headed for home.
Kim followed through on a planned business trip to St. Louis, so instead of being home with me that Tuesday night, holding my hand through this crisis, I was alone.
Kim called on Wednesday morning to get the latest update and remind me that Mom wanted Rachmaninoff, and that music would certainly relax her. As if I didn’t already feel overloaded with responsibility, I stopped to purchase a CD player, some soft headphones, and a couple hours of Rachmaninoff. I had hugged Mom’s head and hooked up the player. It felt great to see her respond to the music. She relaxed instantly. It was one of only a few times during the entire week that I felt sure I’d done something right. As I turned around, there was a man in white who introduced himself as the kidney specialist. He asked for both Susie and I to step away from Mom’s bed, so he could talk freely. “Her kidneys are failing,” he said. “It’s my job to tell you that you have two alternatives. You can do nothing and let her drift off to sleep…or there’s dialysis.”
Before he could continue his explanation, simultaneously Susie and I said, “No dialysis.” There was really no decision to be made. Mom had signed that Do Not Resuscitate Order, and at least Susie and I could honor it.
“I agree with you. If it were my mom, that’s what I would do,” the doctor said in a soft, reassuring tone. Somehow deep inside, I still was clinging to the idea that we might yet have a miracle in front of us. With kidney failure, there could be no miraculous recovery. Despair again overwhelmed me, and I still had to face the battle over the tubes.
For the second time, I summoned to courage to ask that my mom be allowed to die. Again the nurse pressed me to reconsider. “We need to give it time. If we take it out too soon, your mom could wind up suffocating without being able to get air.” What a horrible thought, but I was compelled to insist. I don’t think they understood the anguish that came with saying the words. The nurse reluctantly agreed to get the forms necessary for me to sign for the removal of the tubes.
Forms? Why I had to sign forms when Mom had clearly documented her wishes, with copies right there in her chart, I still don’t understand. With tears in my eyes and the nurse still begging me to reconsider, I filled in Mom’s name, and signed the form. It was the third time I was forced to insist that Mom be allowed to die. I thought it was finally done. But, no. The nurse then explained that I would need to talk to Dr. Serag to get his approval. Once more I found myself trying to justify the decision, with a doctor insisting I was making a mistake. “You’re insisting that we remove the ventilator?” he asked, with a tone that made it obvious I would be acting alone, against his wishes, and all responsibility for the ramifications of the decision would entirely be mine.
“We just talked to the kidney specialist, and he tells us that her kidneys are failing, and that without dialysis she will not survive. Why should I question my mother’s request for the removal of the tubes?” I insisted.
I could feel my emotions transitioning from sorrow to anger, but did my best to hold it together as again Dr. Serag pressed me. “I’ve seen many things over my years. I’ve seen kidneys seem to fail and then in just hours, they come back.” He repeated his previous question with that same implied tone, “So you’re insisting that we remove the ventilator?”
As my chin quivered and my eyes filled, once again I said, “Yes!”
“Then we’ll abide by your wishes,” he said. For a brief moment, I relaxed. Then he continued, “I will need to consult with the other three physicians assigned to your mom for their opinions. If they agree, we’ll get it done.”
What? I was outraged. We had no choice but to abide by the rules which meant that another day was ending and Mom still had to endure those tubes. Susie and I looked at each other, more determined than ever that Thursday we’d have those tubes finally removed.
It was such a relief to have Kim return from her trip and be able to go together to the hospital. Susie was already there when we arrived, and the stage was set for the removal of the tubes. There was an intense emotional build up. Nurses and doctors surrounded her bed. The tape holding a yellow plastic tube the diameter of a dime was removed from Mom’s face. A plastic stick used to prevent Mom from biting down on the air tube was removed from her throat. Then they pulled out the main tube. Her face grimaced again in agony, as she choked on those tubes being pulled from her mouth. I held her head in my hands. “It’s okay Mom. The tubes are gone. No more tubes. I’m sorry Mom.”
I was looking deep into her eyes. She seemed to be trying to say something. I pressed my ear to her lips, desperate to hear her voice, but couldn’t make out the words she spoke. Then an anxious voice behind me yelled, “Her blood oxygen level is crashing! Do we have your permission to put an oxygen mask on her?”
One more life and death decision. She was gasping for air and I could see the pain and the fear all over her face. “What will happen if we don’t?” I pleaded.
That’s not what was supposed to happen here. She was supposed to drift off like the kidney specialist had said. I was smack in the middle of a major emergency and blurted out, “Go ahead!” They put a mask over her mouth and nose. In seconds her oxygen level was back up near 95%. I could feel the staff relaxing, and Mom’s face showed a new calm. I must have just done the right thing, right?
Not long after that a nurse came to us and said that, with our permission, she could give Mom some medication that would help stabilize her blood pressure. She showed us the blood pressure history on the monitor and it was obvious that her blood pressure was steadily falling. I knew that boosting her blood pressure might prolong Mom’s journey but I felt that her comfort was paramount. “What will happen if we don’t give her that medication?” I asked. “If her blood pressure drops too low, will it be painful?”
“It could be.”
I was on my way to losing it. “Okay- go ahead.”
Susie stroked Mom’s hand while I again restarted the Rachmaninoff in her headphones. Some people can make small talk in a situation like that- not me. I sat and watched Mom’s every breath, almost as if I were taking each breath with her. I scrutinized all her digital monitors. I sprung up to squeeze her hand any time she twitched. I cupped her head in my hand when she grimaced. I was dying a little too. Near 6:00 I left Suzie there while I went back to care for our dog, Noel, and get some food. I was back in the real world; the world was still turning; life was going on, and I started to feel hopeful again.
Kim and I walked back into the hospital with our “after 8:00 PM” badges on. Instead of finding calm this frantic respiratory lady was pushing a machine and holding a big mask with straps that would go over Mom’s forehead and around her head. It looked like a deep sea mask of some kind. Mom’s oxygen levels were dangerously low again. This lady wanted to switch the light mask that had been put on right after removing the tubes with this monstrous thing. “What will that do?” I asked.
She explained, “She’s not getting enough air. This mask fits tighter and we can force more oxygen into her so her blood levels should come back up.”
“Will it make her more comfortable?”
I expected her to reassure me, but instead she said, “Well, some patients find this mask so claustrophobic that they can’t take it, but if she can handle the mask, she should get more air.”
How many times- how many times- how many times can they keep making me decide things I really don’t understand? It was constant anguish. “If we change to this bigger mask and she has a bad reaction to it, can we change it back?”
“Okay, let’s do it.” I helped lift Mom’s head while the respiratory nurse pulled all the straps around her. She looked so pathetic- so helpless- so hopeless- but again her blood oxygen levels went back to near normal. By 11:30 that Thursday, Susie, Kim, and I left together. Mom was stable. My heart was still there in my throat.
Friday morning I got to the hospital at near lunch time. Susie explained that Mom had been fighting and struggling to pull off that big mask. I asked a nurse, “Can we just switch back to the other light mask for a while and see if Mom’s blood oxygen levels are okay- at least for twenty minutes of so- just to give her a break- can we try that?” We did. I put some lip balm on Mom’s cracked lips and Kim used skin care cream all over Mom’s face where the straps from that huge mask had gouged deep red channels into her skin. We restarted Rachmaninoff in her headphones, and waited. I asked Mom if that was better and to nod, but there was no movement anymore. “Mom, squeeze my hand one time if this is better.” One final time she communicated with me. She squeezed my hand. It was a good, strong squeeze. I knew she was with us. I knew that deep in her heart she understood that I had been trying my best for her, as flawed as my decisions may have been. I cried, and held her head in my hands as she grimaced slightly, and said, “It’s okay Mom. We’ve got you.” The “numbers” remained strong.
Kim stayed to watch over Mom while Susie and I both took care of Mom’s financial issues. My cell phone rang and it was Kim telling me that Mom had again been fighting and struggling to push the mask off of her face. This was the light mask! Obviously Mom had reached a breaking point and wanted out. Then Kim told me that a nurse had questioned why we would be using the blood pressure medication if our intention was to allow Mom to naturally pass away. I couldn’t believe it! Why didn’t they tell me what it really meant when they asked my permission? The nurse suggested that a better course of action might be to eliminate the blood pressure medication and give Mom both the Adivan for anxiety and Morphine for the pain, and allow nature to do the rest. That’s what Mom would have wanted so that’s what we did. I asked Mom to squeeze my hand; there was nothing. I cradled her head in my hands one last time. “You don’t have to worry about anything anymore. You’re okay Mom. We love you.” I sobbed as I looked for life in her glazed over green eyes. Susie held Mom’s hand, and recounted story after story of things we had done together when we were young. Susie talked about our train trips to visit Uncle Glenn on Great Spider Lake in Wisconsin, and the fun we all had together feeding the deer and assembling all those cross word puzzles. She ever so gently rubbed Mom’s forehead as she talked and talked. Time passed. Her numbers stayed strong.
By 7:00 PM, Friday night, I had to get away for a while. Kim and I went back to our house to feed and walk Noel, and Kim ordered a couple pizzas to take back, enough to share with the smaller night-time nursing staff. After the usual five minutes at the security desk to get our passes and the normal wait for the elevator, we arrived at the fourth floor. Mom actually looked peaceful. By 10:30 the three of us were sitting behind drawn curtains around Mom’s bed. We were exhausted. Mom hadn’t been responsive for hours. I looked at Susie and asked, “If you were to go home and you got a call in the middle of the night saying that Mom had passed away, what would you think?”
After a moment of contemplation she simply said, “I’d missed it.”
“Would that be okay? She’s unresponsive, but her numbers are still strong. I fully expect she will last much longer. What do you say we leave and get some rest? At home, you’re too far to get back if something happens, but Kim and I can be back here in fifteen minutes. We’ll tell Maria (the guardian angel nurse who was on duty that night) to call Kim and me, and we’ll call you if anything changes, okay?” With that, I walked Susie to her car, saying I’d see her in the morning, and came back to await the 11:00 blood pressure readings. Again, the numbers were good. Kim and I were home by 11:30.
The smart thing to do would have been to go right to sleep, but after a week like that, Kim poured herself a big glass of White Zinfandel wine, and I poured a glass of Sherry. We sat in front of the TV, not saying a word, hoping our bodies would wind down enough to sleep. The last few nights had brought little rest. I looked at the clock and it was 12:08 when our heads hit the pillows. I must have fallen asleep instantly. It was just over an hour later, at 1:35 in the morning, when our house phone rang. Kim was saying “Hello?” before I really understood what was happening.
It was the nurse, Maria. “Your mother’s heart rate is way down, and you need to come here if you want to be with her for her last moments,” she said.
Kim said, “I understand.” I could hear by the tone of Kim’s voice that this was it. I did my best to stand up, but felt so groggy. I thought of that switch I have in my head that I use to turn off the world. I wished I could just leave it off and rest, but it was Showtime again. I took a breath and headed for the bathroom to put the clothes I’d lived in all day back on. Hoping to avoid that five minute waste to get passes, Kim asked if I still had the name tag from earlier, but I had thrown mine away. She had too, but there was hers, on the top of the garbage pail, ready to go back on. Before I knew it, Kim and I were driving, the Sherry still obvious in my system, adrenalin moving my body. Saturday morning at 1:45 there was no traffic, and somehow we made it through every single one of the traffic lights. The most coveted parking space at the hospital entrance was vacant. With a quick u-turn we pulled in, jumped out of the car before it could even settle, and ran to the entrance.
The guard at the front desk was the same one there when we left earlier. I remembered him, but he didn’t remember me. Despite our pleas, he had to do it by the book. The pass seemed to take forever, but once I had it, we raced up the stairs. I don’t know why, but as we reached the elevator, the door opened. We had waited for minutes for an elevator so many times, but this one seemed to be waiting for us. We got to the floor, raced to the Intensive Care Unit, and burst through the double doors. My mom’s bed was directly across from the entrance. There on each side of her bed was a nurse, each holding one of Mom’s hands. I glanced up at the monitor and saw that her heart rate was 17 beats per minute. I anxiously reached down to hold Mom’s hand, and the very moment I touched her, that very instant- not a second or two- the very moment I touched her, she died.
I sat by the bed behind drawn curtains by myself looking through my tears at the body that once housed the woman who had been such an icon for me all of my life. She was gone. The body didn’t really even look like Mom anymore. She was gone.
If there was any traffic going home, I didn’t see it. My world was totally obscured by the tears in my eyes, and the pain in my heart. I didn’t speak until we got back home. Kim had called Susie from the hospital and explained everything, but I needed to call her myself. I recounted the entire step-by-step process, from the moment that we had first gotten home, to the call that woke us, to the moment I touched Mom’s hand and she left. A chill ran through me as I detailed what had happened. The very moment I touched Mom, she passed on, as if she had waited for me! That was really incredible. The more that I thought it through, I realized it was much more than incredible- it was impossible. Kim told me that she saw Mom take her last breath just at that exact moment when I had touched her. I was looking so intently into her eyes I didn’t see that last breath. Kim said that Mom’s last breath was in- not out, at the exact instant that I touched her. It was just one instant.
How could it be that I got there the very moment she left this earth?
Anything could have changed how long it took us to reach Mom’s bedside. Why had I left my clothes in the bathroom rather than taking them to the laundry as I normally would? Why did we make every traffic light? Why did Kim find her after hours hospital pass intact in the garbage pail, but mine was gone? Why did the elevator door open by itself?
When we got back home, I discovered that Maria, the nurse, had actually called my cell phone first and left a message. Not reaching me, she tried the home phone number next. That’s the call Kim picked up. Why did Maria call my cell phone and then call our house? A million things could have changed the amount of time it took to get to Mom’s bedside. But they didn’t. I touched Mom, and the exact instant that I did, she left. It could not have been that Mom waited for me- at least not with the powers she would have in this world. She had been totally unresponsive for hours, and her heart rate was so slow that she was incapable of doing anything. There wasn’t enough oxygen going to her brain for normal conscious thought. In the world you and I share, I know she couldn’t have even known that I was standing there. How would she know that it was my hand that touched her rather than the nurses who had been holding her hands? Why my hand? She certainly couldn’t feel anything at that point. I paced back and forth, trying to understand what had happened, and boiled it down to only two possibilities- it was either an incredible coincidence- or it was planned. It was only an instant. There’s absolutely no way it was mere coincidence.
It suddenly dawned on me. My mom did wait for me, but not with the powers she had in this world. I realized that Mom had somehow been able to give me an incredible gift. There is no logical explanation for Mom passing away the very moment I touched her hand, other than it had been planned. It was orchestrated. My mom gave me the greatest gift, even surpassing the magnificence of the life that she gave me when I was born. She gave me unquestionable, indisputable proof that there is an afterlife. I have always had faith- now I have proof. I will have an existence after death. I do not know what form that existence will take, but I know it’s there for us. We will have life after death. Never will I have to question that again. Never again will my faith be tested by a distant, nagging shadow of doubt. I’ve always believed. Now I know for sure. Mom gave me, and you, an incredible gift. She gave us proof!