I lost my mother in January 2002. Her last 24 hours I was with her except for one hour. In that hour I left because I thought that she was finally stable. She had finally gotten a room in the hospital after being in the emergency room all night. I had stayed by her side the whole time praying every prayer I knew plus just praying for God to please heal her, but also to take her if it was His will. My mother opened her eyes only twice and the look of terror in them startled me. I had hope for just a brief moment, but then she closed them again. She never said a word. I wanted so badly for her to remember me and tell me she loved me. She hadn't remembered me for the last six months and it hurt really bad. She remembered my dad and my sister, but she had no idea who I was. It was like I never existed.

I haven't been able to forgive myself for leaving her in what turned out to be her final hour on this earth. I left because I needed to get home to take out my dogs. My husband had to work that day and so when she seemed to be breathing easier and not with all the panting she had done all night I believed it would be ok to go take out my dogs and get back. My dad also wanted to go home to get something to eat so I took him home.

I had just gotten to my home and taken my dogs out when the phone rang. It was my dad telling me to get back up there because she wan't going to make it. I quickly called my husband at work and asked him to pick up my dad. He worked close to where my dad lived and it was easier and quicker for him to pick up my dad. I was closer to the hospital so I was there in about 15 minutes.

I remember rushing up to her room. I ran down the hallway, past the nurses station and into her room. No one stopped me or even seemed to notice me. The first thing I noticed was the patient in the other bed had been moved out of the room. That didn't strike me as odd because my dad had been moved out of a room once when the person in the other bed had a heart attack. I noticed the curtain had been drawn around my mother's bed. I flew around the curtain and stared at my mother. The scene was horrible. I never noticed she wasn't hooked up to the iv anymore. I never noticed her legs were still. My mother had restless leg syndrome for years and her legs were never still. I grabbed one of her hands from under the blanket. It was still warm and I held it in my own. I asked my mother to please open her eyes. I begged her. I wanted her to tell me she loved me so very bad at that moment. I did this for at least ten minutes. No one came in to disturb me. Finally I noticed the iv wasn't hooked up. Finally I noticed her legs were still. Finally I realized that my mother was gone before I ever got there. I never got to tell her goodbye. I never got to hear her tell me she loved me one last time.

I have never really gotten over that one moment in time. Time heals I am told. Time hasn't healed my regret for that lost hour with my mother. I can't get that hour back. All I have are memories, but I can never get my mother's face that last moment I saw her out of my head.

Saying goodbye to me was important. I don't know why. Hearing my mother tell me she loved me one last time was important. Knowing that my mother remembered me was important to me. I never got to have those things. It has changed my life considerably. Maybe eventually time will heal these wounds.

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