I’m so sad to say that my Mom has left this world. My life is never going to be the same without her. I have a hole in my heart that will never be filled.
But I also feel fortunate that with the nomadic lifestyle that I lead, I was able to drop everything to spend quality time with her, and with my Dad, during the last few months of her life. We had an opportunity to say all the things we wanted and needed to say, like “I’ll never forget you”, “thank you for helping me”, “I wasn’t always the best mother”, “I wasn’t always the best daughter”, “I’m sorry”, and especially “I love you”.
Mom was diagnosed with ALS three years ago, and since then she suffered so many losses.
First she lost her mobility, then she lost her home. She lost the hobbies she loved. She lost control over her daily life and her surroundings. She lost all concept of time. Then she slowly lost all of her positive qualities and was left with only the negative parts of herself. She worried and worried and worried about all the little trivial things. She lost her memories (sometimes). She lost her hearing. She lost her ability to have meaningful conversation. And in the end her voice was but a whisper.
Watching her slowly dying was heartbreaking.
But the one thing she didn’t loose was the love of her family. Every single day for the year and a half she was in a nursing home, my Dad, her husband of 65 years, visited and had lunch with her. When she went into palliative care, Ray and I moved in with Dad so I could spend lots of time with Mom and help Dad out too. She was in palliative care for 9 weeks and during that time myself or one of my siblings, often a few of us, visited her every night. Being with her family was all she wanted in the end.
Her mind would come and go, but one thing she was always clear on in our personal conversations was that she wanted me to continue pursuing my passion. She wanted me to continue with my photography. She wanted me to go on my planned trip to China, even though she was doing so poorly and might not live to see me return. She begged me to go on the trip and said she wouldn’t forgive herself if I missed it because of her.
When I got back, her ashes were in a box on the table.
Towards the end, it was hard to know what to wish for. She suffered so much.
I don’t know where she went. I’m not a religious person, but I know that wherever she went, even if it was nowhere, it is better than where she was.
So now a couple of weeks has gone by and we are all still getting used to the idea that she is no longer here. In a few days the entire family will be together, and together we will scatter her ashes.
Then it will be time for me to continue on my path. I’ll try my best to fulfill my promise to her to live my life to the fullest.
RIP Esther McKinnell 1933 – 2016.