April 3, 2013

a shortened version of "I left at 10 that morning."

Mama and her deep creases in her face and glowing bloodshot eyes open the door for me to come into the house. She tells me that the night before was the hardest and longest. She’s so distraught; she wants peace for Oma, but nobody really wants it to be the end.

A few minutes later, Mama goes to shower downstairs and I move a chair into the hallway just outside Oma’s room to sit. The shades, always open during the daytime, are closed. My eyes start to flood with tears.

Take her. Take her now.

Her mouth hangs open. Breaths are so hard, far and few between.

I watch and listen.

Her mouth gently closes for the first time since I arrived.

Take her. Take her now.

I keep watching—not wanting to wake her, yet wanting her to know that I was there, that she wasn’t alone.

Oma's mouth slowly drops back open.

I wait for a gurgle, a hard breath.


“Breathe,” I whisper.


Oh dear God.

I lean in closer to look. Breathe, Oma, breathe.

Tears flood my face. This isn’t happening. I remind *myself* to breathe.

There’s a knock on the door to the house.


“I think she’s gone,” I greet Michelle, the hospice nurse. “Like literally just now. I think…I don’t know but…”

“Okay. It’s okay I will go check.” She walks toward Oma’s room.

Shaking, I follow.

She takes Oma’s hand in hers, then looks at her chest. I quickly turn away to stop myself from crumbling.

Wiping my face, I turn back to peek into Oma’s room where I see a glowing light from Michelle’s cell phone.

She’s calling someone because Oma is gone.

Michelle comes out and nods her head Yes: “She’s gone.”

Holding my face with my hands, Michelle puts her arms around me.

I cry into her shoulder for a minute, leaving a trail of salty tears and snot. “Can I see her again?”

“Of course.”


Her mouth is still hanging open. She’s as white as fresh snow. I hold her wiry, cold hand and ever so gently pet the top of it. I cry and cry, telling her to say Hello to Ota…to eat some cookies and Schnitzel…to fatten up a bit. I thank her for being the most incredible, most inspiring woman I have ever been blessed enough to know… for letting me tell her I love her, for telling me it in return.

“I love you so much,” I weep, gently putting her hand back down and kissing her forehead.

Walking out of the room, I realize Mama is still in the bathroom downstairs.

I take in a deep breath and push it out slowly, repeating this with every step down to the basement.



The bathroom door opens. I walk to her with arms stretched out to catch her, saying “she’s gone” all at the same time.

“What?!” Mama shrieks as we embrace, something we never do.

“Oma,” I whisper into her gray hair. “She’s gone.”

I don’t want to let her go. I don’t want her to go upstairs, to see her mother—skin and bones, mouth ajar—lifeless.

But I do it...I let go.


Linking this up with Yeah Write who've requested not going over 500 words. I wanted to link up my original piece, but it was too long. I still went over the 500 words but not by much, I promise.

Please don't be sad for me. I'm so very blessed to have had so much time with her and to have been able to be there at the very end.


  1. Oh, sweet you, what a beautiful post. I've never been in that situation but it's sacred and amazing that you got that last breath. I was hardly breathing as I read your post.

  2. ohhhh soooo sadddd. i'm sooo sorry. i'm so happy you were there and so sad that she's gone. i know. beautifully written, really really beautiful.

  3. I'm so sorry for your loss Christina. But happy you had so many wonderful years with your Oma.

  4. Wow...there's so much said here. really beautiful post. I'm sorry for your loss.

  5. Such a beautifully written post. I felt all the emotions you did, and felt as though I was right there with you. I'm glad you were able to be there with her during her last moments.

  6. You take us right there--I'm so sad for you, but glad you were there, for your Oma and for your mom.

  7. I was right there with you, leaning forward as you did....

  8. Beautiful. It is amazing how weak and fragile their bodies are in the end contrasted with the impact their life has on us. You captured this moment well. I was right back in my bed listening to my grandmothers snore from below. I always woke up when the snoring stopped, waiting for this moment.

  9. You captured that mix of emotions one feels when a loved one is nearing the end. You want them to stop suffering, but you don't want to lose them. I imagine it was both painful and cathartic to write about this experience.

  10. Oh, love -- much love to you, your mom, and your Oma. I hope that you always keep her love in your heart.


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