02.03.05 – The End Comes at Last


Last night the Hospice nurse got permission to up the Morphine dosage from .25 ml to 1.0 ml. Wow. On Saturday .25 ml lasted two days. After that we just used .125 ml. We didn’t tell mother that we were spiking her ice with Morphine. But, spike we did.


The 8:00 pm dose was 1 ml. At midnight I woke up and gave her another 1 ml. After that she started showing signs of congestion. Her breathing sounded like marbles rolling around in her chest. It’s what the Hospice handbook said would happen. (I may have to review that. I’m not sure whether it was (1) 1 ml or (2) .5 ml.)


We agreed to give her Morphine every 4 hours. At 4 am my father woke me up and I sat there and listened to her breathing. I was listening for sounds of pain… moaning… groaning. I didn’t hear any. I decided to delay the 4 am ‘dose’.


My dad and I woke up around 6 am or 7 am. I sat there and listed to her again. This time she was starting to sound uncomfortable. So, I administered another dose. I had to do it gradually because by this time she had quit swallowing altogether. I started with .3 ml, then .2 ml. I never reached 1 ml.


My sister arrived around 8:30 am or so. You could tell that my mother was aware of her as her breathing started getting rapid and very labored. I put my ski jacket and bear hat on. It was about 65 degrees in the house. I went into the living room to say goodbye to my sister. She pointed out that my mother had suddenly gotten quiet. I didn’t quite understand. She said she stopped breathing. I took the hat and jacket off and walked over.


Her respiration was almost nil. It was just a matter of moments after that when she shut down altogether. One last gasp and that was it. The three of us stood around looking at each other, looking at her… looking for any signs of life. There were none.


At that moment a weight was lifted. We looked at each other as if we didn’t know what to do next. We’d lived the last few days attending to each others needs as quickly as we possibly could. All of a sudden, there were no needs. It was a strange feeling.


Deborah called Hospice. I went home to take a shower. By the time I had returned the nurses were there as well as the hurse. Hospice has been wonderful.


One thing about funeral homes and cemetery’s… if you are going to have a service in a church you can have the cemetery do everything. We didn’t find this out until we made arrangements at the funeral home and signed the contract. This only served to lengthen the amount of time it took to make the arrangements and was very exhausting. You can do your family a favor and go make the arrangements ahead of time.


The two closest people to have died ‘recently’ have been my father’s mother and my mother’s father. Each time, after they’d passed, I’d had this ‘funny’ thought. I thought… uh-huh… you’re up in heaven now looking down at me and everybody else and seeing things that nobody else can see taking place. That hit me in a personal way today as I was stepping into the shower. It’d never been so real. Mother was up there watching us now. One of the things I thought was gee, mom, it’s been over 40 years since you’ve seen me naked… you can still look the other way, thank you. J


Jacquelyn Patricia McArthur