a year a go yesterday, my gut told me that i needed to make my way to ottawa.
the next morning, i made the trek. little did i know at the time, my gut was right; the day i landed would turn out to be the last full day that my mom was alive.
below is a recount of that incredibly hard, yet beautiful day.
my sister picked me up at the airport with tear filled eyes. word had it that palliative care planned on taking my mom off of all of her meds [outside of morphine], and that mom, in her words, was out of it, and unresponsive.
driving there, i prepared for the worst.
those of you who know my mom won't be the least bit surprised when i tell you that she was waving at me as i walked into her hospital room a half an hour later.
"hi paula!" she said, with excitement.
all of a sudden i was having flashbacks of the time just before christmas when the doctors called us in to say goodbye to her for good. after an excruciating five hour drive, i arrived only to see my mom sitting up and smiling. "i refuse to die in december", she said, and she meant it.
but it was february now, and my mom wasn't doing well.
one of my sisters was flying in a few hours after me, and the other had a previously booked a tattoo appointment [which just so happened to be for my mom], so i had the chance to snag a little alone time in the meantime. she slept most of it, mind you, but i sat there holding her hand and letting her know how much i loved her. somewhere in there, i 'gave her permission' to go, assured her that i [we] would be okay [although i had to convince myself of the same thing], and let her know how proud i was of her, and of how well she fought.
moments later, she woke up gasping for air.
s-c-a-r-i-e-s-t moment of my life.
her hands clinched my chest as she took these long and drawn out gasps, and her eyes stared at me in fear, begging me to do something.
i yelled [in true paula fashion] for the nurse. my mom was suffocating - or at least felt like she was - and though somehow i was able to remain calm on the outside, i felt like i was, too.
what seemed like hours later, my mom was back to sleeping peacefully, and i was back to holding her hand.
fast forward to 9:30p.m.
the five of us were gathered around her bed when my mom woke up. she looked around, smiled, and grabbed all of our hands.
"there's so much castrucci love in this room", she said over and over before looking at her watch [which is something she had been doing consistently ever since my dad appeared in one of her dreams the night before].
i sat there soaking it all in, thanking God that i was there for that beautiful moment. so much castrucci love indeed.
little did i know, that was one of the last things my mom would ever say to me.
she died peacefully the next morning.