It was twelve years ago today. It was approximately 3:45pm. It was a Monday.
I got there about 25 minutes before then, maybe fewer. Her fluids were unhooked. I just sat with her. She was so cold. So cold. Her hands were freezing cold. I held them.
I should have covered her. I should have given her more blankets. I didn’t want to wake her. I was afraid I would scare her. On Sunday, she had been disoriented. On this day, though, she was at peace. I wanted her to stay at peace.
This day was different from Sunday. Sunday she recognized me, but she wanted me to take her ring. But she had given me her ring in 1997. Sunday, she kept saying, “Take it Elizabeth, take it!” I kept trying to convince her that I already had it. Sunday, she played with an invisible string. Sunday she thought my son was Brad Pitt. Sunday, she recognized my husband.
Saturday, she had been coherent, but she didn’t understand why she was in the hospital. Saturday, I told her she had pneumonia from her congestive heart failure. Saturday, I told her that she was going to die. Saturday, I asked her who she was going to see, because this was the time for which she had been waiting.
“Mother. Daddy. Ellen Sue. Grandma. Granddaddy.” She probably named others. “Jesus.”
I stayed strong until the funeral day. I asked the funeral home director if I could seal her casket. It was then that I fell apart. I bawled as I was turning the crank. I could hear some of my friends bawling with me.
I thought about going down to her grave today. I have been up for about 13 hours now. But after awhile, I changed my mind. Every year at this time, I get down. Sometimes, I don’t realize why. I saw it coming this past week. It’s okay. I’ve learned to accept it.
There are so many things that I did not know that I didn’t know. Things that I needed to ask her. Things that she probably told me that I forgot. How was I so naive to think that the time with her would last forever?
I held her hands that afternoon until the end. I held them after she left her body. She left when I said, “It’s okay now. I’ll be okay. You can go.” Within about 30 seconds, she went. I know that she heard me. I saw her face. I felt and saw her leave her body. She went in peace.
But even though she was ready to go, I was not ready for her to go. Every single day, I want her back.