Earlier today, I wrote out a long, heartfelt letter to a friend, that included my recollections of three years ago on this day:
Today is October 29, 2023. It was three years ago, on October 29, 2020 that my mom was taken from my care. Two policemen kept me back while fireman carried my mom down the hallway in a sheet, vomiting blood, and placed her on a gurney in our living room. EMTs had determined that mom was “actively dying” and ambulances had been called to take her away.
The policemen released me, saying, “You can go say goodbye to your mom now.” Mom was delirious and her mouth was gurgling with blood. I kissed her on her forehead, the same way I, at age 13, kissed her father, my dearest grandfather on his forehead before they closed his coffin. I can never forget how Dida was as cold as stone.
I said to my mom, in Croatian, “Bog te blagoslovio i Bog te čuvao.” It was the same blessing I said to my mom every night, at her bedside, after we prayed together and after I tucked her in. It means, “May God bless you and may God watch over you.” Then the EMTs rolled her out the door and I knew I would never see her again.
So many times, I had followed mom’s ambulance to various hospitals after her medical incidents, handling all the paperwork, then remaining by her side to calm and comfort her as much as I was allowed. But this time, I was not allowed. It was the time of COVID, and family members were prohibited from being with their dying loved ones in the hospital.
I was utterly and completely depleted and defeated. I had failed at my sacred mission to protect and care for my mom until her last moments. For 34 months, without a single day off, I cared for her night and day. I bathed her, dressed her, fed her, lifted and carried her when she was unable to stand. I bandaged her and tended to her wounds. I cleaned her from her piss, pus, blood, shit, vomit, and tears.
There is so much more to write about that heart-wrenching day. This is just a start. It’s taken me until now, after three years of recovery to be able to share my retrospection.