My mom died at 11:30 tonight (technically, last night). She was 85 and her husband died three days ago. She is where she wants to be.
She received excellent medical care, beyond what she needed. I had to ask them to stop one treatment tonight because it was bothering her and there was no need for it. They kept coming in to take vital signs and we kept shooing them away.
"She's dying," we said. "Please just let her go now."
One nurse told us to go to the waiting room while she did some work on Mom and we all stood in the hall and refused to leave the unit. Over the last three days, I refused to leave the room several times because she was scared and didn't want me to.
Overall, the nurses were wonderful once they understood Mom needed at least one of us in the room to feel comfortable. I helped them with her, helped them turn her and calm her. That's the way it's supposed to me. A woman's children should be with her when she's dying, and a mother should never have to sit by her child as he or she dies.
Tonight was the natural order of things. My mother lived a good life. She was smart, funny and rather impatient. She was so liberal she landed on the left of Ted Kennedy, and I hope she gets to meet him now. She was stubborn, and she fought tirelessly for what she believed was right. She was an environmentalist when they were still called conservationists. She fought corporations -- and won. She was one tough woman, and she taught her daughters well.
She left peacefully ready to join her husband, her daughter and her grandson. She told us this afternoon she wouldn't be with us tomorrow, and she promised to tell Mike I miss him every day.
She is at peace.
We got over a foot of snow last Friday and it's going to take weeks to clean up the mess. The power went out Friday afternoon and wasn't restored until Monday night.
We have a kerosene heater and a propane camp stove, battery- and propane-powered lamps, oil lights and candles. But the heater really only heats one room, so we stayed in the living room most of the four days.
Then Millie got sick. We kept her warm until Monday morning and took her to the vet, but she was in renal failure, a common cause of death for cats.
But she was only 12 and this was completely unexpected. She didn't show any symptoms until late Friday night and even then she wasn't in pain, just weak.
Millie took ownership of all my projects, usually before they were finished.Millie was a feral kitten. Her two siblings had been caught by neighbors and taken to the animal shelter, but no one could catch her. She had been alone for three days under our neighbor's shed in New York when I finally was able to grab her. She scratched me, but then calmed down quickly and started purring. Within a few minutes, she was askeep in my arms.
When I took her inside our old male cat fell in love. I tried to keep them separated, but every time I walked by the room where she was, they were playing pawsies under the door.
Millie was shy and not many people were fortunate enough to get to know her, but those who did loved her.
She loved catnip, laps and my quilting and crocheting projects. She was a great mouser, and until the day she died, she purred like a motorboat when we petted her.
We'll miss her a lot.
That's video of my talk in Washington last week. Watch it and then get out and tell your own story.
There's another vigil in Waynesville, NC on Wednesday. 6 p.m. in front of the courthouse.
"Blessed be the bothersome for they shall receive health care," a speaker at tonight's rally said, after exhorting all of us to call our legislators again and again and again on the issue of health reform.
Another mother, whose son survived cancer despite the worst efforts of insurance companies, spoke about her ordeal after I told Mike's story. She and I will be in touch. We decided we will be the Blessed Bothersomes. We will continue to advocate for health care for all.
I met Sen. Bernie Sanders and I hugged him and thanked him for standing up for what's right.
The candlelight vigil was not without incident. A few agitators came with anti-reform signs and people stood in front of them with their "People of Faith for Health Care Reform" signs. I stood in front of one man and held Mike's picture in front of his sign. He moved and I moved with him.
"I have a much right to be here as you do," he said.
"Yes you do," I said as I moved Mike's picture in front of his sign. "My son had every right to receive health care, too, but he didn't because of this broken system. He can't be here tonight."
After a few minutes they gave up and left.
Word is now that the Senate will give up the public option and allow people as young as 55 to buy into Medicare.
That's not good enough. What about the people between 18 and 55? Do they just continue to die as Mike did?
This won't work. We need our senators to have the courage to do this right. That's why we elected them.
I'm headed to Washington, DC, to speak at a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of our horribly broken health care system.
It's hard to believe there still are people trying to block access to care for all Americans. I don't understand how one could oppose it. How can anyone believe we have the best health care system in the world when 45,000 people die each year because they can't get care?
We have the potential for the best system in the world, but until have access, it isn't the best. A health care system is judged not on how many lives it can save with high technology and medicines, but how many it DOES save. We fall pretty low on that scale.
So, I go to Washington to join with others who understand we need a better system and we need it now, and we pray for the change that was promised to us.