I had the bittersweet privilege of being with my mother when the soul of that extraordinary woman left this Earth. After a successful open heart surgery, she had just been moved from ICU to a hospital room and was in a happy mood, charming her visitors. I was spending the night at the hospital. After everyone had left and in between stops by the hospital staff we talked into the wee hours of the morning.
As we were getting ready to go to sleep, she complained of a pain in her leg. I rang for the nurse and she came and gave her something for the pain. The pain seemed to intensify and I rang for the nurse who told me she needed to give the medicine time to work. I was not altogether happy with the response, but told Mima to give it a few minutes. The pain got worse and I noticed a change in her breathing. I called the nurse again and told her the pain was worse and that her breathing was labored. Reluctantly she agreed to come to the room. Before the nurse arrived Mima told me: “Mari, con este dolor, yo no quiero vivir” (Mari, with this pain, I don’t want to live). By the time the nurse arrived my mother was not quite conscious and she immediately called for assistance. Suddenly a team arrived with additional equipment. They covered her mouth and nose with a mask and asked me to tell her to breathe through her nose. I heard my voice as if it were coming from someone else: “Mima, por la nariz.” (Mima, through your nose). I repeated this several times and I could see her wrinkle her nose and trying, then she stopped and I just knew she was no longer there. They rushed me out of the room and I sat by the elevators praying, rosary in hand. I could hear the call for Code Blue and people rushing to and fro. Finally, one of the technicians came and told me they had done all they could.
For a long time I wondered if I was not assertive enough and that it might have been better if my sister had stayed that night instead of me. We will never know…
Mima, I will miss you till we meet again and I will always love you.