I woke at 5:00 am – the sun hadn’t even thought about rising yet and the streetlights cast a glow over freshly fallen snow. I stared out the bedroom window, which, in retrospect, I hadn’t done before.
My routine was to get up, let the dog out, make tea, feed the pets and then to sit quietly for 1/2 an hour, mapping out my day and processing what had occurred for the past miserable month…But this particular morning, for some reason, I stood on the cold, hardwood floor of my mother’s bedroom, wide awake but exhausted all the same.
Her dog, Charlie, waited patiently while I silently dreaded the next 12 hours of visiting the hospital where I would have to listen to the heart wrenching calls of “I want my Mommy” over and over again. I would read to her and sit with her and clean her and try to rub her legs and feet and back when she’d let me. I would discuss with the nurses her medications, her hydration, and her unraveling.
In previous weeks, some days were easier than others.
On those days I could feel a positive light and imagine her getting better. I would arrive at the hospital where she would be sitting up in bed, eating breakfast and asking, in an irritated tone, when she was going home…It never happened, but it was a pleasant thought that would get me through the weight of reality and what we all were experiencing.
At the very least, in the previous weeks, I wished and prayed she would figure out that she couldn’t possibly go home and would go into long term care. She didn’t of course-figure it out that is. She didn’t because not only was her mind running at less than half of its previous capacity, but also because the thought would not have entered her mind that my brother and I would ever (ever) ‘put’ her into a care home.
The fact was that we had seen several in the past few days, with my brother making all of the appointments. In between our hospital visits, we had both toured facilities.
After each visit, I couldn’t possibly fool myself for more than the time it took to walk to my car. I knew that it would be, to her, the very worst deception…
If she were to be touring these homes with my brother and I, she would have been silent and probably politely smile and nod occasionally, making a comment such as, “Well, isn’t that nice that they have church services?”. Or, if she had nothing else to say and felt she should say something, “How about that…”.
She would then get out to the car with us and sternly say that she would not be living anywhere but her own home.
So much had changed in such a short period of time.
I recognized this and yet did not want to accept any of it. I stood staring out the window. And there, underneath the lamplight, were two large hearts intertwined on the roadway. They must have been 10 feet in size or more.
I peered closer so that my nose was touching the window, my breath leaving a fog against the frozen glass. I reached over for my phone and took a picture; then hurried downstairs, the dog’s nails clicking against the floor and echoing throughout the house.
Looking out the picture window from the living room I was able to see the hearts again, but a little clearer. They looked like they had been done by tire tracks…
It occurred to me, days after, that the two hearts were a design I would make when I would sign a card or letter to my Mom. I would draw two hearts together and write
“I love you so much”.
Sensibly, one would surmise that at some point during the night, after the snow had fallen and before any traffic from the neighbourhood had driven over it, someone had backed their car up and inadvertently designed two hearts to face the picture window in my mother’s house.
I knew it was a sign…
This was 19 hours before my Mom passed away.
What a gift.