The Moment

Photogrief / Photogrief : Eleanor Haley


I remember telling my mom you were on the way. It was a moment I’d looked forward to for a long time, but as I sat with her on the phone I felt distracted by the huge pit in my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I was euphoric at the thought of you; it’s just both my mom and I knew she wouldn’t live to see you born.

This was the last lucid conversation I had with my mother, the next time I saw her she was all but gone. Her body hung on, but her mind had already let go. I remember lying next to her in a bedroom in my childhood home. This room had seen so much life and now, along with the family it housed for 25 years, it would see death for the first time.

I remember feeling uncomfortable and wondering, wasn’t there supposed to be a meaningful moment before death? A chance for me to tell her how much she means to me? A tender memory I can later recall in times of sorrow? As I rose from the bed I embraced my mother’s peaceful body and hopelessly whispered a timid “I love you”, my voice rendered shy by the enormity of the situation. I don’t know if she heard me or if she even knew I was there.

I guess by 25 I should have understood, the memories you get are not the ones you plan for. I realized later I hadn’t missed our moment, it happened when I told her about you. I only wish I’d had known it at the time because I would have paid more attention. Now I know, life doesn’t point a shiny neon sign at the moments that matter; play it safe and make a point of feeling them all.

Do you ever wish you had a meaningful moment with your loved one before their death?  Did you have one and did it look the way you expected?  Share your thoughts below.  

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3 Comments on "The Moment"

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  1. Lois  July 13, 2015 at 7:13 pm Reply

    My sister only sister had a short battle with metastatic lung cancer. She had lived at my home until about four weeks before her death, when we needed to place her in a Hospice house.
    On the Sunday morning before she passed I went to visit her, we ended up talking for hours not about anything special or deep…just sister chat. I did her makeup and helped her put on a nice outfit as she was expecting a good friend to visit that afternoon.
    The next morning at work I received a call from the nurse at the Hospice house that I should come right away.
    When I got there she had already been medicated quite a bit, and although she never “seemed” conscious, I believe she knew I was there. I told her she could let go, I told her to go be with dad…that it was ok. It was only a matter of a few minutes before she was gone.
    I felt peace for her, and although it’s been seven years, I still miss her terribly.
    I was initially a bit angry at the Hospice house for waiting so long to call me…until the nurse told me about her day after I left that Sunday. It seems that her visit with her friend was filled with laughter and joy, “they were like teenagers”!
    So her last full day on earth was happy and full of love.

  2. Colleen  July 9, 2015 at 5:05 am Reply

    Thank you for sharing this story. I recently lost my father a few months ago. The family had gathered for a round the clock vigil at the hospital. I was grateful for the presence of loved ones who genuinely wanted to be there for Dad, for us. But, I was unsure of how the ‘waiting’ was to really play out. People talked, were loud, laughed, moved in and out of the room. It felt a bit odd to me that life was going on, and at the same time, we were waiting for it to stop. We took turns sleeping at the hospital with him. I feel honored that it was on my night alone with him, that he left this world, onto his next journey, I remember hearing his breathing, crackling and slow, throughout the many moments I awoke to check on him. At one point, a new nurse came on duty, I woke and she introduced herself to me. I remember blurting out, “should I call my family?” She looked at me, a bit perplexed, and said, “No, nothing has changed, I will let you know as it gets close.” I went back to sleep, to me, it felt like hours. It was not. The crackling sound I was so focused on, had become more subdued. I ran over to the side of the bed in which his face was turned, and the eyes that had not opened in a 2 days were open and fixed passed me, I tried to have him focus on me, move around to enter his gaze, to no avail. This was it. Brace myself, I tried. I was torn between running out the room for the nurse, but not wanting to miss the inevitable. I pushed on the call bell in rapid fire mode, knowing it really meant nothing at that point. I remember saying over and over. “I love you, thank you for being the best daddy, go if you have to” The nurse ran in saying. “I’m sorry, I (think) he’s gone….I was in the other room, I asked the nurses at the desk to watch his monitors, they came to tell me.” She said, “you gave me the chills, you asked me if you should call your family, but as far as we could tell, it was not the eminent, I feel bad I didn’t listen to you.” I said, “yes, how long was that, about two hours ago (as it felt I slept that long)” she said, “no….It was only about 17 minutes” It may not have been the way I thought it would play out, but, I am glad that I was in tune with him, and so extremely present in the moment. Sorry to go on so long 🙂

    • elhaley  July 13, 2015 at 7:08 pm Reply

      Wow Colleen, your story gave me chills as well. It seems like you knew on a deeper level, even though clinically he appeared unchanged. Please don’t be sorry for going on so long. I can imagine what a powerful moment and experience this was for you. Thank you for sharing.

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