Dr. April Bee
My Last Moments with Mama - Series
January 18, 2007
As I reflect back on this day, I often wonder if my mama knew that her day was coming. Could she feel it in her body? What was she thinking? Was she afraid?
As she was just overcoming an extensive battle of reoccurring pneumonia, it was so promising that my mama lived on. After living with MS for over 20 years, I adapted the definition of strong as being invincible. My mama was a true fighter through every hurdle of this debilitating disease. To see her go from being pale white and faint while visiting her, to her normal, laughing, joyous attitude with her perfectly soft caramel skin tone— I was assured that everything would always be okay.
The way that my daddy kissed her, caressed her hair, and cared for her in the greatest consistency was the greatest medical intervention. It was on that day that I felt my daddy went even deeper on his affection towards her. Sometimes, I wonder if he knew too.
I remember it being a routine visit to the nursing home where we would watch TV with her for a little, say our prayers with her, and then head out. As a teenager, I had less tolerance towards what I considered trivial routine activities, especially while not having the reality of death in my cognitive experiences or expectations. I wish I held her hand a lot more. I wish I told her how pretty she looked. As an adult woman, I know that would be so gratifying to hear, especially from your daughter. Although I wasn’t, I can assume my demeanor presented as if I were ashamed of her, or annoyed by her condition. I truly was annoyed—not by her, but by the reality that this is how she would be until her day comes, which again, I was assured would be many years from now.
My daddy would sometimes remind me to hug or kiss my mama goodbye when we left for the day, and sometimes I would just flat out forget. I definitely wish I held her so much more in those last moments instead of being afraid of facing the hard truths that my mama really was disabled. I think hugging her made her human again. I didn’t want to think of her as a human. I wanted to think of her as my mama—invincible, a fighter, and able to overcome anything. I didn’t want her to be a mortal human because that means that one day she could not be strong enough to survive.
I had a basketball tournament on the previous weekend. During this weekend, I could not visit my mama because it was overnight in a different city. This was actually when I got a phone call for a second time that she had pneumonia. We also received the note that if she were to get pneumonia again, the health insurance will not cover her hospitalization because of her preexisting conditions of having a chronic illness. In lay terms, they will not treat her any further. It was easily the scariest thing that I’ve heard, and I flirted at the thought that my mama may have the possibility of dying. I then remember consciously suppressing the truest reality and pretended that things were fine. I wish I could feel—feel that my mama was truly suffering in her health. I wish I could have allowed myself to experience the truth.
As I visited her on this day, January 18, 2007, I validated my suppressed emotions when she seemed fine. She looked better than she did before she was sick. In my eyes, all was good. All was fine. She was fine. Therefore, I briskly walked out of her room, scurrying off to another tournament game with just a quick and jolted, “see ya ma”.