Twelve years ago, I watched the most magical transcendent thing. No, it was not a birth, but a death. I had seen a lot of dying and death moments by my 29th year. In working in the ICU, it was just a part of the job. Sometimes welcome, sometimes cursed. But I had witnessed it enough times to know what it looked like as it approached. When not speaking of a traumatic death, a gradual death followed a known path the same as labor follows a known one.
She didn't follow rules much though. She hadn't made any urine for many days. Her pulse had been strong and steady in the 130 range for probably 5 days. This assured me I at least have strong cardiac genes. She had not moved, not closed her mouth, not responded in a couple days. Her blood pressure remained low, but that was actually pretty normal for her petite frame and hadn't changed in several days. When she was still been coherent she had told me who had been with her in her bedroom. Her parents, who had been gone for years, had already come for her. Physiologically it made little sense why she had not passed. Emotionally and spiritually it made perfect sense.
My brother had not yet been able to get to her because of unforeseen work obligations. He assured us he was going to be OK if he didn't make it before she passed. But she was a Mother. She knew better than that. She knew he wouldn't have been OK. Besides, there was his month old grandbaby that she had not yet met. My Husband had flight delay and travel issues coming back from Saba and since she probably liked him better than me most times, she was definitely waiting for him.
They both arrived within an hour of each other on the 14th of December and got their time with her. She was unconscious and not moving anything but they laid her 10th grandchild in her arm.. It was around noon. Around 2pm I took her blood pressure and it had fallen for the first time days. I knew she was preparing to go now. My Father, my oldest brother and I were with her through the night. Eventually her breaths became irregular and more shallow.
At 9:00 am she took her last breath... and it was unlike any last breath I had ever seen. In that moment I know my Mom went somewhere. In that breath, she curled her fists, closed her mouth, squeezed her eyes and took a little gasp as if she jumped into an unknown. Or maybe got pulled by her mother. (Get over here!) Christians would call it heaven, some may call it the other side. There was no look of fear, but anticipation. And then she was gone. And it was beautiful. And reassuring. Because in that last earthly action, she did not cease to be. She just went somewhere else.
And so while grief follows no path, contrary to what some flow charts may try to tell you, I hold that memory clear in my cluttered chaotic mind. It assures me she is around, because only her body died in that moment. Her energy, her spirit... Those I witnessed leap into the next adventure.