Letter to a dying mother’s son.

.Dear Andrew

.

Thank you for trusting us with your mom’s last days before she slips away. I can see how hard it is for you and your sisters. We see your tear-streaked cheeks when you leave her room, but at the same time I hear you guys laugh. I see you and your sisters re-connect and reminisce. All emotions are just so much clearer and more intense. You must be drained, but I am grateful that you are showing up, sitting next to her while she has started the process of saying goodbye. These moments are brutal, but so, so beautiful. Don’t miss them. Be present. Keep coming, not for her, but for you. Have those conversations. It is an honour and a privilege.

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I know her body so well now. Having cared for her over the last weeks, I know where it hurts when we move her. I I can draw a map of all the age spots and the strange moles on her upper arm. We are so used to her crooked toes and her paper-thin skin. I know each of the scars that speaks of a life well lived. Her swollen ankles warning us that her heart is battling no longer scares us. When we work with her body it is like a dance we know. She looks straight at me when I change her dressings, like a baby that knows she is loved.

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We always talk to her whether she is orientated or not. We include her in the conversations. Sometimes she responds, mostly she doesn’t these days. We rejoice in the good days, and we know there are fewer and fewer. We carry her in the dark moments when she is fearful; when she talks of dying and the nights are long and lonely. When she is scared, one of us sits with her until she sleeps. We won’t let her be alone.

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I know, as do you, that her life could have been extended by weeks, probably months if she stayed in ICU. For your sake, and for hers, I am so grateful you brought her here. She loves to see the blue sky and the garden. She loves it when the cat pops its head in to her room. She gets incredible joy when she listens to her favourite songs. But most of all, she loves seeing YOU at her bedside, relaxed and having a cup of tea. She is dignified, she is loved and I know, she is ready to go.

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Thank you for the privilege of letting us care for her – and you – in her precious, final days.

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Regards

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Ann-Magret

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