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To My Mom as I Sit Beside Her Hospital Bed

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Dear Mom,

I sit here at 3 a.m. in your hospital room, looking at you, with memories filling my mind. As a medic, I understand what is happening inside your body, although I can’t feel your pain. I feel helpless and unable to give you the comfort you need. I understand the cancer is growing in many places in your body. It kills me to know I will lose you soon.

As a medic, it’s my job to do whatever I can to save lives, but I am literally helpless right now, only watching as you slowly fade away day after day.

I remember when I was young, you tried to hold me and comfort me, but I only pushed you away. I somehow thought you would be just like my birth mom. But as I sit here listening to the IV pumps, I remember the times you showed me your love and care. I’m overwhelmed with sadness. Somehow I think when the doctors come in, they will tell me you’ll be OK, but time after time it’s only more bad news. I’m trying so hard to be strong for you and Dad, but I see the pain in Dad’s eyes. I see the tears fill up; I see the fear of losing the one person he loves in his eyes.

I feel lost and confused. I feel like I have failed you as a son. I’m unable to protect you and keep you safe.

As a medic, I see both life and death. It’s easy for me to separate my emotions when responding to a patient, but when it’s your mother, the lines get blurred, and you suddenly become lost in emotions and memories. I feel my emotions and body being stretched to its tearing point, and I have no idea when that’s coming. Yet to this day, I’m still standing strong, still comforting you in your last moments of life. Somehow I think doing more research on cancer will help me cope with all of this, but in reality, it’s only giving me more fear and doubt that you will feel better.

I want to say sorry for the times I never said I love you, that I never hugged you, for the times I didn’t call. I’m so sorry I was not the son you thought I would be, but I’m here now. 

It’s been a long night watching over you. I sit here in a chair with Dad passed out on the couch, and I think to myself, Finally, I can actually break down. A tear forms in my eye, and then more come, one after another. After a few minutes, I slap myself to snap out of it, thinking, You have to be strong for Mom, you have to be strong for Dad. I see your vitals drop, and one after another your organs fail. You’re on a morphine drip, and I can see you feel no pain. As I look at you, feeling so helpless, I think of all the times we had when I was young. The ECG machine alarms go off, your heart rate dips below 50 and I can tell you’re kissing death. Your blood pressure drops. More time is taken between each breath.

Minutes later, I hear you whisper, “Lord forgive me.” I see you take your last breath. I see your last heartbeat register on the machine… Flat line. No more heartbeats. No more breaths.

Forever I love you, Mom. Forever you will be with me.

Originally published: November 14, 2015
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