Dear Wellspring Family & Friends,
More often than we realize, painful memories have a way of having a strong hold on us, replaying in our mind from time to time. On September 27, 1992, I was up at 6 a.m. getting ready for work, when my dad yelled out to me to come upstairs. He said, my mom was “sick”. As I raced up to their room, she lay on their bed, breathing deeply; she looked like she was sleeping peacefully. We paged her doctor who said, “it didn’t seem to be a heart issue” and to get her up and he’d meet us at the hospital. Only, she wouldn’t wake up. If I were to rewind time, I would’ve (I should’ve) done things differently. My mom had suffered an aneurysm that morning. Her last words to my dad, were “my head hurts”. This was the first emergency situation of my life. I could not fathom that my mom was dying. Had I not been in denial, I would’ve moved faster to call the ambulance, but she looked so peaceful that I didn’t (I couldn’t) imagine the worst.
As we waited for the emergency technicians to arrive, she was propped up with pillows. My dad and I had tried to sit her up as her breathing changed and became more labored. It was just mom and I in the bedroom as we waited for EMT to get there. I sat next to her, facing her, watching her intently. It was then, that she opened her eyes, and looking straight at me, she raised her hand outward to me. I instantly took it. She didn’t say a word and then she closed her eyes. I, on the other hand, responded, “are you okay, mom?” Those were my last words. What an idiot I was. Looking back, I have replayed that moment over and over, beating myself up. I could’ve said, “I love you” or “I’m here”. Looking back, I realize I was in total denial that she was going to die.
Within 24 hours, she’d be gone. She and my dad had finalized their estate plan a couple years earlier and her wish was not to have her life prolonged. We had her on life support long enough for family to come and say their goodbyes. I tearfully whispered that I loved her in her ear, and the ventilator switch was turned off. We sat in silence in the quiet of the room until we heard one final deep breath. She was gone. Till this day, I still struggle with wishing I had done or said something different in our last moments together when she extended her hand. I even asked the neurologist if he knew whether she heard me or knew I was there with her when she opened her eyes and reached out. It would mean everything to me if she knew she wasn’t alone in that moment. Repeatedly, I’ve asked myself, “Was she conveying her last words by opening her eyes and reaching out to me?” The doctor, full of compassion, said there was no way of knowing for sure, but to go with my instinct and belief in that moment that she knew I was there; because that would help me to grieve and let go. Letting go of pain and regret, means our hands are open again to receive God’s grace, healing and love. In this process of letting go, I’ve learned He can also transform and restore us to be able to live again and even more fully for Him.
A couple of months after mom passed, I had a vivid dream of her. My mom, had dedicated 40 years of her life working for Japan Air Lines. In my dream, she was dressed in white, from head to toe. She crossed a bridge and walked up some stairs to an airplane waiting for her. As she boarded, she turned and looked back at me, waving and smiling, before she disappeared onto the plane. She was beaming.
God’s Peace to you,