It's been a brutal, confusing, heartbreaking 4 days. My Mother passed from an accidental drug overdose, yesterday at about 11:30 in the afternoon. 19 hours after we made the decision to take her off life support. My sister, brother, grandfather, and Dad were all with her.
My sister Kristen and I arrived in Santa Barbara California on Sunday afternoon, at that time Mom had been on life support for approximately 24 hours. In the ICU we were greeted by a group of apparent drug addicts (one of which claimed to be her husband) all giving us their condolences "I'm so-and-so I knew your Mother...I'm so sorry". My mind was screaming, my head feeling as if it would explode at any second. "You don't know my mother!! You don't even know her name!!" I wanted to scream it a thousand times into their faces. I wanted to claw their lieing, smug, unfeeling eyes right out of their sockets. I wanted to kick and punch and pummel all of them into tiny little pieces of blackness. Instead, I smiled a pain filled smile, acknowledged their pain and went on.
My 90 year old Grandfather (sharp as a tack yet far to trusting) had been sucked into my Mothers illness, believing and using her excuses to protect her. Right off the bat, before we had even had a chance to see her, he blamed my sister and I for abandoning her. His denial, made my head spin, it enraged me, it hurt me to the core.
Kristen and I were shown into her room alone. As soon as I saw her I knew she was no longer with us, I didn't feel her energy or spirit I didn't feel the deep deep anguish and pain she carried. As broken as she was she still had a very strong life force that I was very connected too. My first reaction was the feeling of wanting to pull all of the machines off of her. To see her reduced to a machine breathing for her was surreal. The sound of it is still ringing in my head. It's amazing the quantity and variety of emotions that goes through you at times like these. Minutes feel like hours, there is no night or day, no month or year. It's like a vortex, a tunnel. You see nothing around you except for the things you are profoundly paying attention to. Everything is deafening and silent, you can't see your face in the mirror, you can't taste yet food tastes so wrong. I think it's an alternate universe. I think you can forget to breath.
After we were given some time with Mom, we starting the process of sorting through the facts, establishing who she was, her birth date, her history. The people that had brought her in had not know her but for a few months. And had unknowingly giving false information, they knew her as "Summer Choura" 45 years old. Her name is Debra Keating 53 years old. I think she had been using aliases and false identities to be able obtain the Morphine she was so desperately addicted to.
Family started arriving, her sisters, brothers and their spouses. My mom was the baby of the family. The youngest of 4. The room just spun as I tried to explain her addiction to her family, she had thought she had hidden it so well, however almost every single person I spoke with had some idea of her troubles. And all where not surprised she had finally lost her life to them.
I had decided before I got there I was not going to play into the despair of losing her and that I had to for myself be very real about who she was to me. Make no mistake, I am in a great deal of pain after losing my Mom. But there is also a sense of relief, knowing where she is and that she no longer lives in pain, that shes not cold or lonely, that maybe now she knows how much we all love her and only wanted her to live a sober healthy life.
I walked out of the Hospital yesterday after she took her last labored breath and went straight to the airport. I am done. I didn't say goodbye to anyone, I didn't hug my family, I didn't look back.
As she lay dieing I did all that I needed to do, I said everything I needed to say, I brushed her hair, and listened to her heartbeat, I laid my head on chest, kissed her eyes, smelled her hair, held her hand. I read her my favorite poem, I prayed. I was there when they took the tubes out and she labored and moaned, coughed, and gagged. I rubbed her legs and told her to let go and that the next time life will have a better one.
Well this update turned into more of a jumbled ranting emotional journal, so I will stop. There is much more to share, and I will. There is an criminal investigation that goes along with this story too, but I'm finding that part something I can't do right now. I'm glad there are people in my family that can. But for me, it doesn't matter in this moment. She made the decision to be in the situation she was, and unfortunately she paid the biggest price.
She lost her life at 53, alone in a house full of strangers.
Thanks to everyone who was thinking and praying for us. I could feel all of you and it fed me. It kept me focused and strong. I can't thank you enough for that.