“She’s still sleeping peacefully,” my eldest daughter, Alexis, texts from my mother’s room at 6am. She has spent the night curled up in the easy chair in the corner of her room, keeping watch.
Along with my sister who lives on Gabriola Island, she flew in last night from Vancouver. The nurse at the centre where my mother lives had suggested we ‘gather the family’.
“I feel like I am fading out,” my mother whispered late last night as the three of us sat around her bed. “I know my time has come.” And for a brief moment her gentle humour glimmers in the room, “So why am I still here?”
For a 97-year-old, her heart is strong. It is her body that is failing her as her will to live fades with each breath.
Surrounded by her 3 daughters and 2 granddaughters, my mother sleeps. Her breaths are short and shallow. Her contorted, arthritic hands lay folded on her chest. It rises and falls with each breath. I watch the movement closely.
We sit and chat. We sit in the silence. The lights are dim, The midnight hour is upon us.
My mother opens her eyes. “I’ve had a good life,” she whispers. “God has been good to me.”
And she closes her eyes again. She drifts back to sleep. I watch the rise and fall of her hands on her chest.
Yesterday, she saw my father. “He is waiting for me”, she said. And then she makes an effort to smile. It is a small one. She doesn’t have the energy for more. “My mother and father are waiting too,” she says and closes her eyes.
And I keep watching her hands on her chest. Rise and fall. Rise and fall.