• Karen Heckman Stork

When Your Mom Dies

Quote of the Day: When a Mother dies, a daughter’s mourning never completely ends.

Hope Edelman

September 22nd would have been my Mom’s 97th birthday. She died exactly 12 hours before her 91st birthday in 2011. I had never been in the presence of someone at the time of their death. So, Mom’s death was a totally unexpected experience. I was called to the hospice center by the nurses late in the morning of Wednesday, September 21. I was told that her breathing had slowed and it wouldn’t be long before she died. I hurriedly called my brother who lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and told him to get here as fast as he could. I then drove to the hospice center to be with my mom one last time.

As I arrived, her two sisters were already there, talking to her in low voices as Mom laid in bed covered up to her neck with her favorite quilt that said “Mother.” I hugged Maggie and Flora, and we held hands when the nurse came in and explained to us what would happen. We were waiting for my brother. We each spoke to Mom, leaning in close to her ear. She was not responsive, so we couldn’t tell if she heard us, but we all wanted to say goodbye and that it was okay for her to go. We each felt that she knew we were there with her. We cried as we told her how much we loved her.

My brother soon arrived. It was almost noon. We noticed that her breathing was slowing down. Tom also spoke to Mom. Then the four of us joined hands, stood around her bed and sang her favorite hymn, “In the Garden.” We quietly and reverently prayed the Lord’s Prayer over her. Mom then took a final breath and was gone to her forever home. I never imagined my first close encounter with death could be described as beautiful, serene and soothing, but it was. Her sisters, Tom and I were all comforted that we had been able to say goodbye and ease her passing.

Just as I had a sort of “other worldly” experience when I learned my daughter was pregnant with my first grandchild, I had another such experience after my Mom died. It was just two days after her death and the weekend of my high school fiftieth reunion. I went to the social gathering on Friday evening, but didn’t stay long. A friend of mine walked with me back to my car, parked in a garage downtown. When I got to the car, a rosary and a cross were hanging on my driver’s side mirror. I looked around but didn’t see any such ornaments on other cars. I believe in angels and had the strangest inclination that this was a sign from my Mom in heaven, saying that she was okay and I didn’t have to worry about her. To this day, I believe that, and I have that rosary and cross hanging from the mirror in my car. I will never remove it. I miss her very much.

Action for the Week: Hug your Mother if you’re lucky enough to still have her!

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