Empty Hand

When you give birth to a daughter, you’ve just met the person whose hand you’ll be holding the day you die”. – saw this on a friend’s status and it took me back. The way it’s suppose to be – yet for my family it has not been. Two times a mother has buried her child first. My grandmother buried my mom who was 48 when she died. I said goodbye to my daughter who was just 1 month shy of 18. Not the way it suppose to be..

When I speak of loneliness I am referring to the statement above and what it means to not have a women in my life. When I say women I mean a mother figure or a daughter figure. I have great friends, but when you’re on your death-bed – I wonder whose gonna be holding my hand.

My grandmother held my mom’s hand, as did I watched her take her last breath. Slowly with each breath there was a pause, then another. With each wave the breaths become more labored and longer in between. Then as I sat there on her bed, 7 months pregnant – I whispered in her ear “it’s ok mom – you can go now, I’ll be ok”. And with that a small tear dropped from her right eye. I remember it so vividly. As my uncle, her brother sat close by – I watched, I held her hand, I wept as she took her last breath. I remember it as if it happened yesterday though it happened September 16th, 1988 at 1pm.

My plane had just landed and I rushed to my grandmother’s bedside in the ICU unit. I remember saying to my grandfather – I don’t want to watch another women die. You see I was still reeling from my mother’s death 5 years before. I walked it and said “red” my little nickname for her because she had red hair and a wicked fiery attitude to go with it. She was on a vent and couldn’t speak. I was told she was not responding. However, when I said “red” her head slightly turned. I know she knew I was there. Then as I held her hand, she passed. I was in nursing school at the time and the ICU nurse let me help prepare her body. That was a healing time for me.

In the last 12 hours of Brittany’s life – I was by her bedside – never leaving. Holding her hand, praying for her. Brushing her long beautiful curly red hair. Sitting there in disbelief that we were there at that moment – it seemed as if I was reliving a moment I had experienced with the two other most important women in my life. As I said goodbye to my daughter I collapsed over her body and vowed never again to love like that again. The pain is present with me now and always will be. Her PICU nurse stayed with us long after her shift. Brittany died October 13th 2006 at 6:55 am. A friend came by and we together prepared Brittany’s body so she would look peaceful. I have some pictures that I’ve never shared. Because we chose not to have a casket and to cremate her, the child life specialist felt it was necessary for me to have those pictures. I didn’t think so at the time, but so glad I have them now. Walking out of that room 4 hours later was harder than I thought. I reached the door and stopped cold. I looked at my friend and said “I can’t leave her here” – I’m a nurse – I know what happens next. She’ll be put in a body bag and taken to the morgue. I had to quickly get that thought out of my mind. Then the child life specialist came to me and  handed me the pictures. And it was then I was able to leave. Crying all the way home.

So you can see I have held the hand of the 3 most important women in my life. Now – it’s the loneliest time in my life. What my future holds I don’t know. But I know God knows and I’m praying He will continue to light my path as I continue my journey of healing.

until next time


One thought on “Empty Hand

  1. This took the breath right out of me. Beautiful. Gut-wrenching. Raw. And real. Praying for His Light to be clear and steady on your path, and for peace to embrace your sad and weary heart.

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