“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


another part of the truth

i struggled to write this weekend; i wrote, but everything seemed to come hard out of these fingertips, and i finally just stopped, no mas, no mas.  i'd earlier said to a friend i might write the truth about my mother's death, yesterday being 6 months since her death, but i didn't/couldn't/wouldn't, and that built a wall i couldn't climb over.  so, like i said, i just stopped, and went about my business, which eventually led me to sunday morning, dealing with things at my mother's house, sprinklers and lights and all that everyday stuff that doesn't go away, and crying all the while, this 6 month anniversary hitting me harder than i'd thought it would - lately i cry, therefore i am. 

there is a table there that is mine now, a table i want to paint, a table i haven't painted, and i can give you all kinds of logistical sane reasons as to why i haven't, but the truth is, if i paint it, it will no longer be hers, and it is another part of her gone.  if i don't paint it, i won't bring it home and her being gone will not be staring me in the face.  i tell myself it will be no different than having her cat, but that's not true - daily i watch the cat adjust to here, to me, learn the secret places of the house and yard, the scary places, the hidey-holes.  that table will just sit and look at me and be a new scary place, and it will be up to me to adjust.  i tell myself it is just a stupid table, just do it, but this grief for my mother moves so differently than the grief for my father, and i am just frozen.  i want nothing.  i want it to just disappear.  i dread thanksgiving and christmas - after my father's death, i wanted holidays to be bigger; now i just want them to go away.

so.  yesterday.  my mother's house.  i fell apart.  i sat in the dining area and leaned my forehead against that table and cried and had a conversation with it, and it told me to just tell the truth and let it go.  some people know anyway - just say the words and let them go.

i warn you - it's not pretty. 

for three weeks they kept my mother tied to her bed, said she was too anxious, too agitated.  they kept her tied to her bed and they kept her drugged.  in the end, they gave her a drug they shouldn't have given her.  twice.  despite the black box warning that said not to, that it could have fatal consequences for someone with her heart condition.  i paid $160 to get partial medical records to tell me that.  i'd bought those records because i knew in my heart, and, even more strongly, in my belly, that this drug was responsible.  what i didn't know was that they'd used it twice - she'd struggled back from it the first time, made her way off life support; they gave it to her again and that time she didn't come home. 

i hadn't said anything to them about the first time because i was scared - i was unsure of the drug's name and  they had all the power; i was only allowed to see her 3 times a day for not very long, and i was afraid to rock the boat.  and now she is gone and i blame myself for not saying anything.  it matters not that i know this is what people do after a death, blame themselves - i do it anyway.  they had power and they had information i didn't - kidney failure, pneumonia, both of which were improving when i finally learned of them, while being pressured to sign a dnr.  my mother left no one in charge of her medical journey, so it fell to me, the oldest, the only daughter, but i would not make decisions without my brothers' input.  we begged to have a meeting with her doctor, he who told me we needed to decide whether to let her live or not, but no meeting ever occurred.  the one we did manage to schedule, the one that was to take place in her cubicle in the icu, where there were not enough chairs, and i sat crosslegged on the floor, he skipped.  one of my brothers has never met him.  the night before her death, when i finally agreed to the dnr, when we finally received information enough to change the mind of one of my brothers, he being the last holdout, there was no meeting.  indeed, there was no meeting room,  the icu conference rooms being turned into employee break rooms, empty coke cans still on tables.  we were to have had a speakerphone conference call with a physician's assistant, but neither room had a working phone - one had no phone jack.  in the end, a frustrated nurse turned her cell phone to speaker and held it in the air so we could talk. 

i ok'd the dnr in tears and walked away, back again in less than 12 hours to use the only power i did have, the power to end my mother's life.  it is a horrible thing, that power, and i was alone, my brothers not there, one not even reachable by phone. it was time, i could see that, i knew to let her go, but i couldn't.  i walked outside into the darkness, to the top of the parking garage, where i could sit with the night.  it rained a bit and i called michael and i walked around and took cellphone pictures of the night as it turned into dawn.  i said goodbye to her outside and finally went back in.  by then my sister-in-law was there and with her courage and love, i told the nurse yes.  the machine was disconnected and i laid my hand on my mother's heart and in less than 5 minutes she was gone.  i'd asked them earlier to untie her from the bed.

there is nothing i can do legally - i've investigated.  but i am angry still and that anger is part of my grief and i don't know how to not feel what i feel.  i don't think anything was done with malice, but much was done with sloppiness and heartlessness.  there are things i am still not saying out loud to you; i have agonized for months about the telling out loud of this.  i don't know if it will help.  i want an apology from the doctor and from the hospital, but i want to say thank you to the nurses.  i want that table to be white and i want to still feel my mother when i am seated there, but i want to not feel guilt.  i don't know if any of that is possible.

today is monday and i am past yesterday.



  1. that's so much to bear. i'm glad you wrote it. it will help. i'm sure of that.

    sending big hugs across an ocean.

  2. Oh, darling, I am so sorry, so very sorry that it all happened this way. I hold you sweetly & acknowledge the courage & necessity of speaking the truth.
    It is the beginning of the healing.
    You will probably need to speak it again.
    We will be here for you.
    I love you.

  3. I am so glad you are saying it with your fingers, keep telling your story and heal. My heart goes out to you and my arms are wrapped around you in my mind. Time they say will heal, but it is the small steps and the saying that will help. Thanks for sharing with us.

  4. All I can say is it gets easier. I had to unplug my dad and a sister told me I had killed him. A year later, my mom died - on her own; and then that sister died. I miss them all, but the nightmares are finally gone and I don't blame myself so much. Keep writing.

  5. Thank you to all of you for your support and understanding. I think it will help, finally saying this out in public. And thank God for the small steps, else I would be standing still. :) And thank you for sharing your your stories.

    Also - thank you for knowing I may need to say it again, but I think not for a while. Tomorrow something light.

    xoxo and smooches to you all.

  6. I am glad you are here on that one day past yesterday, telling this story that breaks your heart, my heart, all the hearts in between.

    As women, I think guilt is our veil. We wear it always, we see through it, we peel it back occasionally to take a deep breath, but then it falls back into place and we go on.

    This is a tough milestone to cross, sending you hugs and an ear that will always listen, no matter how many times you need to say it.

  7. I'm glad you wrote it...it does help to share the burden, so now we know some of what you've gone through. I truly believe you should take what you wrote and send it to a magazine to be published...let it help others as well as yourself. Tell them to check the medical records, demand answers and face to face contact, stand up for the right to a power other than the one you have to pull the plug. You're writing is supurb...thrifty and understandable with vivid imagery. Others need to know. I may have this same thing happen to me soon and you're writing it has helped me. I'm sure of it. Love you beautiful lady...Blessings,

  8. I wish I were there, with you. You have so much love tied up in the grief and the anger. You are BRAVE for speaking this truth, and I honor you for that. You are faithful, in that you tell the stories. I am so sorry that all of this fell to you. If I could, I would just hold you, hold you for healing, until it was/is alright.

    Your grief is foreign to me, not loving a parent that way, but there was an Irish Setter that a vet murdered, and that grief will be with me forever.

    How is Bo? I continue to pray.

  9. i read your words with growing unease, and then horror really. thinking that no-one should have to go through that. but we do. the horror at what you went through at the hospital, and how i read about that sometimes, and how hospitals make bad decisions and people die. i am so sorry that that is what happened.

    i said goodbye to my mother in her hospital bed, i was 16, and i saw her once in the 3 months that she lay dying. just once. i have never really got over that, nor really forgiven myself. but it's ok, i know that now and i know she knew that i, as a gangling struggling teen, loved her more than anything.
    mother loss cuts deeper than anything else, at any age.
    we carry it always, like an overcoat that we put on every morning. but we do heal and we do learn to live with it, to carry it wtih us surrounded eventually by love and memories of good times.

  10. True grit is making a decision and standing by it,doing what must be done.

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  11. Sitting here crying with you . . . during the death of someone we love we always feel powerless and like we could have done more. So glad you felt able to share those words, getting them out will help even if its in some small way. Big hug and sending you courage across the miles to find the strength to paint the table.

  12. this breaks my heart to hear what you have gone through - the struggle you are dealing with daily. I feel it's good that you put it out there - important that you feel safe and loved in the sharing of it. I feel sure it will help with your healing/dealing of this sadness. even the painting of the table can be beneficial i believe.
    ....thinking of you

  13. i remember the night you fled the hospital to be up in the parking garage and photograph the night. i fled too. and then i stayed, for the last 3 days. others came and went. i stayed. i was always the good daughter. mom was not tied, but she was immobile. she wanted to die and i could not, COULD NOT, stop it. she signed the dnr. i knew it was the only gift i could give her. the right to die. it was how it should be. no plugs to pull. just naturally slipping away. i told her while she could still hear and maybe after she couldn't of the last journey, the one i would let go of her hand, but others would take hold and guide her. God, my father, her parents...with me left on this side. it's been almost 2 years. i stayed a long eternity in the anger mode. time does heal. empty words, it seems. but true. you need more time, for the death itself. for the mismanagement of her death, time may never be enough. BUT continue to write, continue to tell the truth, make somebody listen, make somebody accountable. get that apology. my time in anger is to achieve the accountability i need. i work now to get people accountable. easy? no. but still i do it.
    i remember your last night on the parking garage. i was with you that night. you didn't see me, but i was there. i am often with you, holding you.
    thank you for writing this MOST personal sadness of your life. thank you for always writing.
    in fond regard, Tilda

  14. through tears of anger and empathy I am so sorry ... grief is a long road and I hope you know that I will be standing there on the roadside with a cup of water and understanding extended to you as you work through it in a very special way..writing that touches others and heals bit by bit ...slowly..you make me miss my mom ..what an ache that can be ..xo

  15. I am so terribly sorry to hear this. It must almost be unbearable for you to have to deal with it. Knowing what you know must make you angry and full of sorrow in equal measure. So sorry.

  16. This story has brought tears to my eyes. It's been 398 days since my dad passed away, and I can say I know what you are going through. More than you can know. I haven't written my story - maybe I should.

    Nothing is your fault. You did the best you could. You did right by your mom, but having to make that call is gut wrenching. You wouldn't be human if you didn't question whether it was the right decision or not.

    I still wonder about having a dog put down many years ago. I know it was right, but I don't know at the same time. It is natural to feel that way.

  17. Wow. Such a powerful post. I too am shocked and saddened by what happened but also so incredibly moved by your courage to say it out loud. I am sorry that you and your mom had to go through that and sorry that you continue to feel the pain and guilt. Grief is an obvious part of the process but guilt makes it so much harder to deal with. I wish for you the strength to let that go, if not now then some day when you are ready. You did what you could in the moment and you did it from love, that's all that matters. You may never get that apology but you and we know that you and your mom deserve one, and we know because you said it out loud. Thank you for being brave enough to share it with us.

  18. Oh Debi. I am so so sorry.
    I'm glad you got it out. That you spoke your beautiful truth and shared your story. You rip my heart out and leave it aching for you. You leave me with a feeling of gratitude...of being trusted with these deep pains.
    It's not fair. Things shouldn't be the way they are. I hope that as you release these words to your loyal readers that you know you are no longer alone with them.... that we are with you, loving you.

  19. sharing parts of your life in public for all the world to see and read is brave. I hope it relieves you of any stress associated with the past because there is no reason for you to feel any guilt when nothing is hidden.

    It's shows character and responsibility and I hope you realize that you did nothing wrong. I honestly believe that many people feel guilt about something from their past that was maybe a mistake, but mistakes are really "wrongs." The act was only a mistake and the only thing that can possibly be considered a "wrong" is the hiding it. Sometimes we are forced to keep things underwraps because it is not fair to reveal when other parties are involved. It is each persons decision to make for themselves whether or not to hide.

    I don't look down on them for doing so because it takes courage to not hide the self. But I do believe not hiding from those you want to be close to in your life is the only way to be truly happy.

    I hope you realize you should be and deserve to be truly happy. You've already shown you have the courage to live happily

  20. typo: should say "mistakes are NOT really 'wrongs'"

    sorry bout that


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