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Her Last Breath
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Her Last Breath
This is a story of me witnessing my own mother as she takes her last breath. Title pretty much tells you.
[895 words]
Writing Resource
Ryne Hughes
Really cool guy.
[August 2005]
Her Last Breath
Ryne Hughes

It was just another May morning, in 2001, with clear skies and dew still on the grass. As I drove to work, the only thing on mind my mind was my mother being whisked away to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. I didnít think too much of it at the time because she routinely had to go to the hospital for a few days at a time. Little did I know that when she left for the hospital that morning, she wasnít coming back home. On that sorry excuse for a normal day, I had to watch desperately as my mother gasped for her last breath.

As I arrived at work I saw everyone as usual, but something was out of place. Both of my sisters were standing outside the noisy mechanic shop talking. They had gloomy looks smeared on their faces. Randi, the younger of the two, said hello. My eldest sister, Regina said we were going to see mom. The way she said those words sent chills down my spine. I wanted to ask why, but instead I just said alright and we piled into Reginaís Tahoe.

On the way to Kelsey Seybold Clinic, the oversized SUV was silent except for the radio playing abnormally quiet. It was a country song and it was horribly depressing. When I took my gaze away from the outside whizzing by to tell Regina to change the radio station, I saw her staring at the road in a whimper. I felt my heart grow heavy and realized that this might be the last time I ever see my mother.

†My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer two years earlier and had under gone extreme treatment for it. The doctors used chemotherapy and experimental radiation. It left my mother hairless, feeble and, constantly ill. She was a very strong positive woman and she managed the treatment as best as she could. She also went through an operation where the doctors removed the tumor along with her right breast. The operation was six moths before that dreadful day.

After she recovered and got out of the hospital we had a family gathering. I was able to witness the happiest Iíd ever seen anybody. Well I guess thatís because Iíd never met anyone who survived hours and hours of torture and had to deal with the thought of death every day. But now she was ill again. This meant that the doctors didnít remove the entire cancer, and it had spread like wild fire.

When we arrived at her room, I remember experiencing a firm grasp on my insides. We entered the room and saw my father in a chair gently caressing my motherís hand. Until that moment, I had never observed so much love between two people. It was like a mother gazing into her newbornís eyes for the first time. It was real..

My motherís face was pale, by any other comparisons, except for the tired rings underlying her gorgeous bluish-green eyes. She looked as frail as a seventy-year old woman who had witnessed more in her life than anyone could ever fit in a nine hundred page biography. I hugged my mother after my sisters, and I wished I could have climbed underneath the covers with her. She could have run her fingers through my hair and told me everything was going to be o.k., like she had done since I was a baby. I was unable to do so because of the tubes and connections wired to her. So I sat down in a chair to the right of her, and held her hand.

We all sat and talked for about two hours about family vacations, inside jokes, and other pleasant memories we experienced as a complete family. During this time, nurses would come in and check her fluids and I guess to see if she was still alive. Until finally my mom and dad told my sisters and me that there was nothing they could do to help my mom. This hit like a bomb shell in my heart. I just started crying. My parents agreed on turning off the oxygen machine that was preventing the inevitable. I couldnít believe what I was hearing, but I did understand my mother was in pain and it was the only option.

Soon after that information was disclosed, a nurse came in and gave my mother some morphine and turned the air machine off. It all happened so fast. One minute she was aware of every thing, and the next she was oblivious. She started mumbling sentence fragments that I wasnít able to understand. The doctors later told us that it was her brain transmitting memories in her head. Her breathing started to slow and continued to slow until it crept to a quiet whisper and then stopped. It stopped! She stopped breathing. She was gone. I would never be able to see her beautiful eyes again. The room was hysterical. I clenched my motherís hand for her dear life. I will never forget her lifeless chilled hand on that horrendous day.

It has taken a long time to even be able to talk about the day without breaking down. This was by far the worst experience I have ever encountered in my short life, and it will always remain fresh in my mind.




"Start reviewing others work, as they have made the effort...Too many people write, not enough review..be fair and you'll be rewarded." -- Buxton.


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© 2005 Ryne Hughes
August 2005

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