How have you been? Haven’t seen you for some time now.
It’s been exactly a year since the last time you spoke to me. How the hell has it been that long?
September 2nd, 2016
I remember our last call, talking about how we’ll see each other the next day. Paul and I just moved to our new apartment, you had family visiting and you wanted to show them my new home. You were so proud, smiling a lot. You were so excited about us moving and being happy. It was almost like you knew you needed me to make a home for myself because you wouldn’t be around to help me out. It was almost like you felt like something was wrong. Like something was about to happen.
September 3rd, 2016
I remember that day, Paul and I just booked a trip to Dublin. You always liked when I called you with good news. But I called you with the bad ones as well. I called you always, every day, with everything. You were kind of my best friend and even though we weren’t spending a lot of time together since I moved out, our bond got even stronger, didn’t it?
I called you to tell you the good news, your boyfriend picked up. He told me you left your phone at home and went to get some groceries. Typical. I hated you not having your phone on you because you can never know, you know? He told me he’ll let you know to call me back – no call. So I called you again, he picked up again. He sounded crazy, talking while struggling to breathe. He just said “…something’s wrong” and I was like “well, sit down then if you’re not feeling well”. That’s when he finally told me that something was up with you.
To this day, I don’t understand what exactly happened to me that day. I was numb. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t understand everyone panicking. Paul even made a remark about me just standing there, asking about all the monitors and what the numbers meant. Like I couldn’t understand that my mother was lying on that hospital bed with her temperature lowered so that her body could fight for her life. I think, I just didn’t think it could be severe. I knew you were so strong, you could do anything you put your hands on, so this shouldn’t be a big deal, should it?
You’ve had a heart attack on the street and were clinically dead for 10 minutes – all this time without oxygen. By some miracle, there was a doctor and a nurse going about their normal day when it happened. Your brother called for help and they all did their best to bring you back to life. He told us then, you felt ill so you stayed at the bus stop while he was getting groceries. If only you had your phone on you, you could’ve called an ambulance. Or me. But you didn’t.
I was really angry with you. You’ve known for two months that something wasn’t right. You still pushed yourself to the limit although your limbs were often numb, you were always tired, you couldn’t hold your head straight, your back hurt. Your doctor was a freaking moron for ignoring your problems. Because it’s easier to just prescribe you some massages instead of taking care of you. But I was angry with myself as well. I had my problems at the time, I didn’t pay enough attention. I should’ve pushed you to go to a different doctor. I was selfish. Now you’re gone.
That night, I cried myself to sleep. It finally hit me when the doctor from the hospital called to tell me you had another cardiac arrest for 10 minutes. This time, it wasn’t your heart that failed you. It was your lungs. What your doctor didn’t discover either was that you had bronchitis. Those damn cigarettes. I always hated them.
I couldn’t sleep well. When I closed my eyes, I kept seeing you on that hospital bed and I tried so hard to push the image out of my mind, to not think of it because it felt like I was making it worse. Even though I knew the visiting hours were from 3 p.m., I was at the hospital at 10 a.m. I just had to go, I couldn’t do anything else. It got even worse when you had yet another cardiac arrest for yet another 10 minutes. 30 minutes without oxygen, it didn’t look good. But we hoped.
Since the first day, my days were the same. I couldn’t do anything else than to wait around and go to the hospital to see you for 30 minutes and then leave and wait for the next day to do the same. Michaela was here every day. She understood and came to see me every morning and stayed with me all day. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to do anything. But I couldn’t. You were on my mind all day every day.
The next 5 months were pure chaos. While balancing Uni and work, I learned so much about your problems as I had to take over your whole life and sort your financial problems. That’s when I understood why you pushed yourself even though you were ill. You had to. No wonder you had a heart attack.
The worst thing was, we got a different diagnosis EVERY.SINGLE.TIME we went to see you. One day they would tell us everything looked good, the next day when there was a different doctor in the hospital looking after you, they would tell us you would die soon. But you held on. The best your body could do was to put itself into a vegetative state – a type of coma where your eyes are open, you can slightly move your mouth, eyes and sometimes hands. But to this day, nobody could tell me whether you knew what was happening. Parts of your brain were gone, forever.
It was an emotional rollercoaster. I gave up as many times as I started to hope again.
The funny thing is, you got much, MUCH better in your last week. I couldn’t visit you every day as I had exams at Uni but then, on Thursday the 26th I would come to see you. I could swear you moved your hand and looked sad when I told you I had to go. I kissed you goodbye, telling you I would see you the next day. Sounds familiar?
January 27th, 2017
I got a call at 8 a.m. It was the hospital. They told me you passed away at 4:10 a.m. Your heart gradually slowed down until it stopped completely. Now you were really gone.
I had episodes of crying and sleeping all day until I decided to go to the hospital and collect your belongings left there. That’s when it really hit me that you’re gone – when there was only an empty space where your bed used to be. I don’t know why but the only song I could listen to that day was Joy Division – Love Will Tear Us Apart.
The thing is, I lost you long before you left this world. I lost my mom on the 3rd of September, 2016. You couldn’t talk to me, you wouldn’t know me if you were to wake up from that vegetative state. There would never be that same relationship we once had. The parts of the brain that die when you’re without oxygen for a long time, are the parts that are responsible for your personality. Once those connections in the brain are gone, so are you. At least THAT YOU that was my mom. But what warms my heart to this day is that you were always hyperventilating when I came to see you – which might not be the nicest thing to warm one’s heart, but it basically meant you knew I was someone important to you. You knew you were close to me. So, in theory, you could’ve really been sad when I was leaving the hospital. So was I.
March 3rd, 2017
You had a beautiful funeral. It was the kind of funeral people imagine when they think about whether their friends would show up if they would die. We played your favourite song – Robbie Williams’ “My Way” cover. It was your favourite because you always did everything your way.
There was the whole close family there, your friends, your fake friends also, crying their eyes out the best they could. I feel like you were the type of person to earn the respect of others just by being the nicest version of you. You got a ton of flowers, so many they didn’t fit on your grave, so we just stacked them on top of each other. The grave was still really pretty. As pretty as a grave can be.
And now, a year later, I miss you so much. It gets better, but it doesn’t get easier. All the fights I had to have in your name: with the banks, the doctors, with everyone. My Monday mornings crying at my table while trying to get hold of yet another person to make our life a living hell. But all this I would do again to have you back. Still, I feel like you finally have your freedom, your peace and this might’ve been the best way out for you. If you would’ve woken up from your coma, you would’ve been stuck in your unable body forever. You, the most lively person I know with a laugh to be heard from two blocks away. You would’ve been so unhappy, it breaks my heart just to think about it.
I hope you’re just as happy wherever you might be, as you were when you were with us. Maybe we’ll meet again.
Rest in peace, mom. I love you.
—————————————————————————————————————————————If you stumbled upon this blog post while searching for answers regarding coma, vegetative state or losing a parent, feel free to contact me. I’ve been there, it was all new to me as well and maybe I could help you by sharing what I learned. Keep in mind that every case of coma can end differently and frankly, hope dies last. Hope is all we got. Take care.