*Please Note: The following may be disturbing to some readers due to graphic imagery.
The following is a recount of the traumatic experience of my mother passing away from my perspective.
Read with caution. May trigger sensitive readers.
I’d like to introduce you to Mom.
She is, after all, the reason for my life’s purpose in this incarnation.
Her name is Glenda and she’s also the reason I’m alive – aside from birthing me!
This woman managed to figure out how to keep me alive after she died and I am forever indebted to her for that.
I’m not here to glamorize her postmortem.
She was human and had flaws like you and I.
One of them was smoking cigarettes which ultimately killed her.
But she was one hell of a woman and still is.
We never argued long and were always quick to say “I love you” and I’m grateful that I got to hear it from her for twenty-six beautiful years.
Though she no longer identifies as a woman but as Spirit…
…if we’re being politically correct!
Mom died from complications due to COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder.
That shit was terrifying to witness – let alone live it.
To perform a mundane task such as washing dishes had her crumpled in a heap trying to catch her breath.
It scared her.
She was scared.
I was scared.
We were all fucking terrified.
And then the ultimate nightmare came true and I woke up to her calling for me for the last time I would see her alive.
“KAILA” she screamed from the kitchen floor.
It was the middle of the night and I was the only one home.
My sister was living with her boyfriend and Dad was on night shift.
It was a Sunday morning around 4:00 AM and I flew down the stairs directly to her.
She told me to call 911 and she was sitting up on the kitchen floor holding herself up with one hand and clutching her chest with the other.
“Didn’t you hear me?” she said.
“No, I was asleep! What happened?”
“I can’t breathe.”
I noticed she had urinated on the floor.
Not a good sign, but I didn’t know that at the time.
I had already hung up with the 911 operator and they were on their way to our home.
Those minutes felt like hours.
I was half naked and after assuring Mom, I told her I was going to run upstairs for pants, pee and call Dad to tell him to meet us at the hospital.
I was upstairs for forty-two seconds.
I know this because that was the call log on my cellphone to Dad and I will never forget looking at it.
When I rounded the corner from upstairs – I was moving as fast as I could – I saw her lying about half a foot from where she was sitting.
She was gone.
Her beautiful brown eyes were wide open and I could hear what I found out was later called “the death rattle”.
Immediately I started CPR and got on the phone with 911.
“EXPLAIN TO ME HOW TO DO CPR. WHY ISN’T IT WORKING? WHY ISN’T IT WORKING? YOU’RE TALKING TOO SLOW! SHE’S DEAD! SHE’S DEAD! SEND THEM NOW! SHE’S DEAD!“
That’s what I said as I threw our old, corded phone half way across the room as it shot back towards me from the strain of the cord.
I kept at the CPR and with every compression I was SCREAMING.
“YOU CANNOT DIE. YOU CANNOT DIE.”
“NO MOM. PLEASE. I’M SO SORRY. PLEASE.”
I heard the ambulance pull up.
They entered our home.
I screamed at them.
“SAVE HER. WAKE HER UP! FUCK! SAVE HER! SAVE HER!”
It was like a scene from a movie.
I kept screaming and screaming and screaming.
And pacing the living room trying to explain to the police officer what just happened.
“SHE…SHE SAID SHE COULDN’T BREATHE AND THEN SHE FUCKING DIED.”
I remember my Dad walking up the driveway with his bagged lunch in his hand – the lunch Mom packed for him.
He retired 6 days later after 41 years of service – the day after her death.
What should have been their time together was now the worst experience of Dad’s life.
All of ours.
We got to the hospital.
The paramedics gained a pulse but they worked on her for over half an hour.
Dad knew that wasn’t good.
Mom and I loved to watch Grey’s Anatomy and I at least knew the brain needed oxygen to survive.
That was too long.
But I held out hope.
“She was in a coma one year ago. She’ll make it again.”
That was the first thread that kept me sane.
What unfolded were five days of me sitting vigil at her bedside, begging her to stay alive.
I remember when the doctors took my Dad and I into a private room to go over brain scans.
Dad knew this wasn’t a good sign, too, but he stayed so strong for us.
He is the strongest person I know.
We went into the room with the medical team caring for Mom.
The head of neurology was there to explain that Mom no longer had brain activity.
She was a petite female doctor with short curly hair and glasses and looked like she could have been in Grey’s Anatomy.
I wished I could tell Mom about her.
We waited for Lauren to get to us – it was a snow storm – and we all made the decision to let Mom go.
It was the hardest decision of our lives but we knew Mom would not have wanted to live in a vegetative state.
We also knew she wanted to be a donor and though her organs were shot, she was able to donate the long bones in her arms.
They said the funeral home would make it so you couldn’t notice and they were right.
I was proud.
I remember Mom crying once after I told her I’d gladly donate my eyes and skin.
She cried and said “I just can’t imagine you without your beautiful big brown eyes not looking into mine.”
Me either, Mom.
I begged her to stay alive.
I thought I had killed her.
Why didn’t my CPR work?
Why did I leave her side?
Did she call out one last time and I didn’t hear her?
These thoughts were only the beginning.
It was before her funeral that I decided I would commit suicide.
I couldn’t handle it.
The grief. The pain. The trauma. Any of it.
I wanted out of my body.
I wanted out.
While she was in the hospital, I overheard a nurse say “I have never seen a person cry that much in my entire life” and I totally believed her.
I cried for five days straight and only slept because my body was spent.
I remember curling up on the visitor’s lounge chairs and praying and praying for a miracle.
I always said I’d write her eulogy but every time Mom and I talked about death I would become extremely upset.
One of my closest friends had lost her Mom only a few years prior – I was close with her Mom too – and I could not imagine experiencing that.
Mom said she couldn’t imagine it, either.
And now it was my reality.
I was preparing a collage for her funeral when I decided I would commit suicide and that is when I was able to hear her for the first time.
Not in mere words or in my head or really any way I can explain in words.
The intense comfort and love and the knowing was enough to turn me around in an instant.
Oh. My. God.
We don’t die.
I wrote and delivered her eulogy.
The pastor came up to me afterwards.
He said “I have heard eulogies delivered all of my career and I don’t typically comment on them. Young lady, that was one of the most profound eulogies I’ve experienced and your mother is smiling upon you today.”
My heart skipped a beat.
If you had asked me one week prior to her death if I would be able to physically read during her funeral I would have said no and called you a liar.
I wrote my grandpa’s eulogy six months before she died and I was too choked up to read it so I asked a cousin to read it for me.
My life was forever changed.
I vowed from that day to live entirely for her and for Gramps…
…wherever it was that they had gone.
I’d live my life with honour and give Mom those grand-babies she talked about for years.
I’d even find a “nice Italian boy” to cook for me like she always said she hoped for.
She chose “Italian” because my favourite food is spaghetti, lol.
Who knew her prophecy would come true!
*I did not choose my husband because “he’s Italian” – lmao – it is a coincidence but just so you know.*
In the first few weeks of my “new normal” my mental health began to oscillate.
For the first few days after she died, my cousin would sleep beside me because each time I’d wake up I’d remember and start screaming.
It was like waking up to a nightmare.
And the trauma was very difficult to navigate.
She was not just a “Mom” but my best friend, confidante, soulmate, everything.
She was everything to me – my heart and soul outside my body.
Just like we were to her.
This all began on November 16 2014 at home and ended at The Hamilton General Hospital on November 21, 2014.
My grandma died a year later of a broken heart.
Losing my grandparents and Mom in one fell swoop nearly killed me.
And now, I choose to advocate for those who are stuck in that dark place and are looking for answers not typically found.
It’s been nearly six years.
I still strive each day to work on my clairvoyant gifts to better express to others what I have come to understand.
I appreciate you taking the time to read that and honestly, I’ve written it so many times that actually getting it out there now feels therapeutic.
I’ll be discussing all of the self care and mental health boosting techniques I use on a subsequent post.
I hope you enjoyed and look forward to the next time!
Kaila A. Notto
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