My mother passed away on August 22 after battling liver failure for four years. From the time of her diagnosis in July 2006 to about a year and a half ago, she did really well and there were times you wouldn't have thought anything was wrong with her. It was actually a miracle she lasted so long, because it was only when she developed esophagal varices and internal bleeding that it was discovered her liver was in bad shape. But she survived another four years beyond that, with no more bleeding.
But in March 2009, she really began to go downhill, and it was a steady decline from then on, with extreme fatigue, increasing weakness and muscle wasting, ascties and swollen ankles, itching, memory loss, incontinence, personality changes, etc. She spent five weeks in hospital last November after developing pulmonary edema, and we thought we were going to lose her then. But she came home and battled on for another seven months before losing her ability to walk and falling three times in as many days. We sent her to hospital after the third fall, on July 8 (her 80th birthday) -- and she never came out again. During July and August, her decline steadily accelerated to the point where she was hardly eating anything, vomiting a lot of what she did eat, and sinking into deep, stupor-like sleeps day and night. She finally developed an intestinal blockage, and the doctor told us there was nothing left to do but move her into palliative care and put her on a pain pump. She went into a coma on August 20 and died at 1:30 AM Sunday morning, August 22.
The day before she died was the worst day of my entire life. The hospital called us at 6AM Saturday morning becasue they didn't think she'd last the day. As soon as I saw her I started sobbing. She was just lying there with her eyes and mouth half open, gasping for breath and moaning. She had no idea we were there. I couldn't bear to sit and watch her like that, so I said my goodbyes an hour later and went home to spend the day on the sofa crying.
When my dad woke me at 1:30 Sunday morning to let me know the hospital called to say she'd passed, I felt nothing but a strange calm. Since then, I've been alternating between feeling sad and empty, and crying perioidcally, to being simply relieved that Mom is finished with her suffering and is now free of her sick, weak, broken-down old body. Right now, the relief is actually greater than the grief. I felt worse watching her suffer than I do now, even knowing that I'll never see or hear her in this life again. I take comfort in the belief that she's feeling happy and strong in spirit, and is enjoying a new existence without any illness, pain or weakness.
Rest in peace, Mom. It's been a long, hard journey for all of us, but it's finally over.