On NYE, #tenyearsago was a trending topic on Twitter. People were reminiscing. I drew a blank. But my NYE 23 years ago remains indelibly etched in my mind.
I had a hard time waking up my Mom that morning. She was never one to sleep in; however, she had taken one-half a sleeping pill the night before and I figured that was the cause of her grogginess. Mom, I said, Fran wants me to go skiing up North today. That’s nice, Chrissie, she said. You go ahead. But I don’t want to leave you alone, I replied. I’ll be fine, she said. Reluctantly I left, comforted by the fact that Jean-Guy was coming in to take care of Dad who had Alzheimer’s and also a CLSC nurse would be in to take care of Dad’s bursitis.
Still, I had an uneasy feeling. My queasiness was confirmed later in the afternoon when, upon calling home to inquire as to the home-front situation, Jean-Guy told me the CLSC nurse was checking on Mom who still hadn’t gotten out of bed !
I jumped in my car and made a beeline for Montreal from the Laurentians. I don’t know what was racing faster, the car, or my heart. As I pulled up to the front door of our building, I saw the ambulance. I ran to the door of my apartment, and made way for the attendants who had my Mom wrapped up warmly on the gurney. She was comatose. My Dad, who because of his condition, spoke very little, said to me as he looked down at Mom, ‘J’ai le coeur gros’ which means, I have a heavy heart.’ He knew.
Mom never woke up from her coma. I visited her every day for 15 days. On the morning of January 15th, I got a call from the hospital to come as soon as I could. The priest greeted me at the door of the ward. Mom wasn’t there any longer. They had moved her to a single room so that I could say my goodbyes in private. She was already dead, but as I stroked her hair, I found a warm spot on her neck and I kissed it and her face. She finally looked so peaceful.