At 4:00 A.M., exactly, the nurse came into my mother’s room, again. I had a barely slept, tossing and turning, listening to Mom. I was dozing when she came in. I was frustrated to be disturbed again. Mom had begun moaning and I was trying to let her struggle, let her rage and just be there. However, they suggested lorazapam to calm her and I said yes. Then, I asked the nurse to leave and not return. I went over to hold Mom’s hand and it had grown cold. Despite her difficult breathing and horrible previous 48 hrs, her hands and feet had stayed so very hot. Burning up. Suddenly they were cold. She was now breathing quickly, moaning and staring off.

I pulled my computer over and put on one of her favorite songs: My Heart Will Go On. She and my daughter watched Titanic many times together, and the song always held meaning. It came out just when my grandmother, Mom’s mother, died and we all felt it was so lovely. Of course, over time it was over played and made silly at times, but in Mom’s dark room, holding her hand, it was beautiful. I felt my daughter there too, in the memory. I played Can You Feel the Love Tonight. And I kept holding her hand. I told her I was there, that it was ok to leave me, over and over. I said some of the very things she’d hated before:  “It will all be ok,” “We love you,” “K and I are here,” “Mea and Doby (her beloved pugs) are waiting for you, they’re going to lick your face over and over,” “Grandma and Bubbie are there, to hold you,” and, her breath began to slow; she stopped moaning.

I pulled up a picture of my sister’s dog, Lottie, who Mom loved and held the picture where she could conceivably see it. She was staring off, but I held it up none the less. I told her that I love her, that my sister and brother love her, that we all love her, and that I know she loves me. She smiled. Her mouth clearly turned up and she smiled, faintly. Her breathing grew slower and slower and I kept one hand on her heart and the other holding her hand, debating when to go wake my sister. As I got up, I sensed that I was feeling her last breath, and I walked to the other room to get my sister. When we got back to the bed, she was gone. She was so very still, her eyes still open.

My sister and I got into bed with her, as we have for weeks and weeks and we held her. We cried and held each other, but we held our mother hardest. We laid with her until we were done crying. Then, we sat on the bench beside her bed for a while… talking and thinking, sharing our thoughts, until we were ready to open the door and tell the staff.

Once we did, they called the funeral home and then brought in a bowl of lavender water. I put some special lavender oil in the water, that I’d been rubbing on her for weeks, that she liked. And then, two of the staff and I bathed her body. I washed her whole, small body down and removed the Angel necklace that I’d put on her 48 hrs ago. It was given to me by my aunts, out of love… something we each have and put on whenever one of us in the circle is in need. My aunts have all worn their angels for us this week, but I wanted my Mom to wear mine. I took it off her and back around my own neck.

When they came to take her, they covered her in the quilt that she got when she arrived. At the door, they stopped and we surrounded her small body. My sister and I held hands, my sister crying, I held her tightly, and reached a hand to touch our mother’s chest one last time.  As I stood with one hand on my mother, and my other hand holding my sister’s, they rang a bell three times, slowly. We each touched Mom; I kissed her one last time and they took her away. I immediately wrote her name and a heart on a slip of paper, placed it in the Chris Moench prayer wheel, near the entrance and gave it a good spin.

I gathered my things and left Hospice House. It felt so strange to finally walk out. There in the parking lot, a thick layer of ice covered my entire car and it sparkled like a million diamonds. It was incredibly beautiful. When I turned my car on, Norah Jones’ Don’t Know Why was playing. The lyrics to that song were on the first page of my manuscript, in it’s original version. I believe in symbols, in signs, in mystery… the diamonds, the 4:00 wake up (the exact time they called two days earlier), the song, they mean something to me. I drove home, but I wanted to sit here in my car, just a little longer. I put on Peter Gabriel’s I Grieve, watching the beautiful Christmas lights on my house, and  “Missing what’s gone… life carries on…. Love carries on.” Thank you Peter for singing to me again, on this morning when my mother is finally at Peace.

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
This entry was posted in Awareness, Beauty, Blog, Death, Death of parent, Dying, Life, Mothers, Musings, My world and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Peace.

  1. I’m sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this journey with your readers.
    May you and your family find solace.


  2. “Peace” is such an appropriate title…I hope you feel it, and find it, and she is living it now in a far different existence.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May 2012 bring you fresh perspective as you cope with such a devastating loss…

    Take care of you, ok?



    • Thank you dear bloggy friend. You have been such a ray of sunshine these past few months… for someone I’ve never actually met. One day, we will sit across a table from each other and share a drink and some stories. 😉 Thank you for the many laughs and and many kind words. I have a fresh perspective already and feel very hopeful that 2012 can only be much better.


  3. Mike and Ruth says:

    Dear Dawn, May your mother finally rest in peace. Ruth and I hope that these last few weeks will make you stronger, understanding that death is the final chapter in the book of life.
    All our love, Papa Mike and Ruth


    • Thank you both. I love you very much and appreciate all of the love and support you have given over these many months. It means the world to me. Yes, the chapters are many and this was one of the harder… but I think we are all feeling more peace today.


  4. Carrying you in my heart today.


  5. Claudia says:

    I’ve been thinking about you the last couple of days…I’m so sorry, Dawn.


  6. veronicad1 says:

    You are truly an amazing woman: An amazing daughter, wife, mother, sister, and friend! Thank you for sharing this time with us!


  7. Maryann says:

    Your words are so powerful, so captivating, and so respectful of your mother. You have honored her death with your words Dawn and I am so thankful I was able to follow your journey. May the peace she now has fill your heart to overflowing as you fill that loss with precious memories you have of the life you shared with her.


    • Thank you so much Maryann. It is very meaningful that you have followed from far away and I’ve felt your love and support. I do feel much peace and joy in letting her go, along with a deep sense of loss. Time my friend, time. 🙂 Happy New Year and my best to Christian as well.


  8. I am thankful for the ease of her transition and the power of your love, May we all be blessed with peace and love when it is our time


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  10. Thank you for sharing these final moments of your mother’s life. Your courage throughout the entire time will help others who will have to walk that road one day.
    I don’t know if it is appropriate…but I had come to give you the Versatile Blogger Award. I’ll give you the link to my post…but don’t feel obligated to do anything…you definitely have more important things on your mind.
    Peace and love for 2012.


    • Vivian, I am deeply honored and it seems entirely appropriate, to get a smile and warm praise at this time. Thank you. Writing is what calms my soul, so honestly, there are not many more important things that I am doing right now. I am trying to just listen to my own gut and do what I need to do. This means a lot. I am equally honored that you have followed my blog recently. I hope you will go back a bit and see that they are not all heavy. While these recent ones about my Mom have meaning for me and seem to have touched others, I look forward to writing about the funnier sides of life and parenting, again soon. Happy New Year and much appreciation.


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  13. I’m so touched by this, Dawn. I got teary eyed. So much quiet emotion. Thanks for sharing it.


  14. Wow you did that so well – the letting go, not just the writing.. Thanks for pointing me in this direction today x annie


  15. El Guapo says:

    As someone who barely knows you, I was very moved.
    I’m so sorry, and very thankful you could express it like this.

    And it sounds like your mother knew how much she was loved, right to the end.


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  20. This is so like my own mother’s death in a hospice center in 2005.

    I was linked to you by an article on (I think?) Huffington Post about volunteering at hospice. Maybe I could do something like that.

    I told my mother many of the same things you told yours: it’s ok to go, we love you, we’ll miss you, but we’ll be ok, and we’ll always remember. But I don’t think I told her she’d done a good job. I wish I had, because she did. A kickass job, in fact.


    • Thanks so much for taking the time to read both my piece on Huffington Post (yes, that’s where you saw it) and this one. This was deeply personal, and written the very morning my mother died.

      While I think it’s an important thing to say to mothers, I’m sure your mother knew that you loved her and felt that. Be happy that you shared that time with her, and carry no regrets.

      Again, thank you for taking the time; it is much appreciated.


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