To be clear this was not the outcome I desired. This was not the outcome any of us desired. But it was the outcome it needed to be.
On Wednesday evening, I announced to the world visits for Karen would be appreciated. I knew she would be unable to communicate and may not even recognize those who came. But, not wanting to be selfish, I felt I needed these visits. The hospital is a lonely, lonely place.
I was amazed at the outpouring of love expressed by so many. Karen showed a change in demeanor when visitors came. She did her best to acknowledge people and tried to formulate words to convey her love. One of the more touching experiences happened when the Roberts family came. They lead the humanitarian effort to Mexico Karen and I have participated in for the past two years.
Ramon Roberts asked her if she wanted to go to Mexico one last time them. Karen gave two huge nods with her head signifying her excitement to be among her beloved Mexican friends one more time.
By 6:00 p.m. our daughter Emily, who drove down from Idaho, arrived and sat with me for a few hours. As I did each night before leaving the hospital, I asked the staff if there were any medical reasons I should stay. Typically, the nurses told me to go home and rest. This time, the nurse said Karen was fading faster than anticipated.
That is when I noticed over the course of the day the staff had removed all medicines from her IVs. Only the fluids and feeding tube remained. They were preparing for her to die just as we were.
The nurse assured that if Karen started to decline quicker, she would call me. So, my daughter and I left for home. All the way home I wrestled with the idea if Karen wanted to die alone or among those who loved her.
When Emily and I got home, Nancy, her mom, sister, and our granddaughter Miriam asked if they could go to the hospital to see Karen. Miriam is quite close to her grandma but because she was nine she is not allowed in the ICU. But the staff had made so many exceptions during the day when it came to visiting policy, I knew they would accommodate Miriam. Since they were going to the hospital, I asked them to alert me if they felt Karen’s decline warranted me to be at her side. After about an hour they returned and said she looked stable.
Soon after their return, Andrew got home and he decided to visit his mom one last time. He took Nancy and their older daughter, Rachel, with them. I again asked if they detected any reason for me to be at the hospital they were to alert me. Soon after they arrived, Andrew texted me that I should get there as soon as possible. She was fading fast.
Emily and I woke up the four grandchildren, packed them in the van, and drove to the hospital at midnight. When we arrived, Karen’s heartbeat was erratic and breathing was labored. She was so close to the relief of death.
All the grandchildren had a chance to say goodbye to grandma. Then Andrew and Nancy took them all home. That left me and Emily at Karen’s side. I called Jacob and Katharine, our other two children in Utah, to let them know that mom was fading fast and if they wanted to be at her bedside upon death they should get to the hospital as soon as possible.
At 1:00 a.m. I asked the nurse to terminate the oxygen.
By 2:00 a.m. we were all at her side.
By 2:03 a.m. her heartbeat went to zero.
At 2:04 she was pronounced dead.
She died very peacefully.
She was surrounded by her family.
She was ready, more than ready, to go.
If this is your first post, please click here to get the full story of Karen’s Health Journey.