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Oh, My ChickensJune 9, 2008

Mom ain't doing so well. This whole bringing-her-home to die thing is on one hand:

a) Perhaps the single hardest thing I've ever been part of. It's at once heart-wrenching and soul-gratifying to be the people who keep her comfortable, even though it's at the expense of her being able to communicate clearly with us. No. That's overstating it. That's just what it feels likes. A couple of days ago, she could handle this dosage and still be clear sometimes. Those were really good moments. Today, between hits of morphine, she was agitated and frustrated, unable to move the way she wants to, unable to make herself understood. But then she drifts back into sleep and appears peaceful. It's hard and scary and sad and painful.

On the other hand, it's:

b) Perhaps the single best thing I've ever been part of. I am inordinately proud of the people that comprise my family. Christy handles every part of the logging and charting of everything that's happened/been given with brains and cheer, and the tone in her voice as she talks to Mom is one of the most loving things I've ever heard. Bethany, who seems to always be there for the worst moments, is grace personified, very like her mother. Bethy rolls with every punch, and keeps a clear head even through tears. Dad is holding up admirably, and I love the way he kisses her hello and goodbye, just like always. Mom likes that, too.

We are a team. A really good, cohesive, united team, and if we had a chant, it would be Give me an N! Give me an O! No Pain! No Pain! Mom says, "Give me dope," and we give it to her. When she can't say it, but looks it, we give it to her. And then we have our dinner in dribs and drabs, as we are able to, and someone sleeps next to her and the next day we start it all over again. How do people do it without this kind of team? I am honored and blessed to be able to be here (paid leave and kind employers make all the difference in the world, too). I am so lucky to have this time. We've told her over and over how loved she is, and how she's the best mom in the world. How lucky we are to be able to do this. I've heard from people all week who didn't get this chance, and we don't take it for granted, not for a second.

So if I'm not around for a bit, don't worry. The Herrons are busy being the best family they can be.


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Peace and love to all of you.

A quote that I keep on my fridge:

One of the secrets of life is that all that is really worth (the) doing is what we do for others.
Lewis Carroll

You're living it-

I read your blog while my Mom went through her final illness, went home on hospice, and died. It's harder when you don't have siblings, in some ways, so enjoy what time you have together when you can, and be sure to give yourselves a break regularly. Does the hospice offer At7uan? it's an anti-anxiety medecine, which you may not need, but could be helpful in small doses, if your mother is very agitated. My Mom didn't need it, but the various forms of pain medication were very helpful. The hospice offered us more than enough options, but the hardest part is figuring out what is appropriate, and when. The situation can change quickly, or just as easily stay stable for a long time. My thoughts are with you.

We did this for my step dad, five years ago. I was really only there for the last week, which the last downhill slide for him was fast, less than three weeks. It was the hardest and one of the most loving times of my life. He didn't leave us until we had each told him it was OK to go. That was really hard for my step-sister. He died just a few hours after that. The loving bond between my Mom and Carrie and I grew very strong that last little bit.

I bless you and will continue to pray for you all.

My best wishes and heartfelt thoughts to you, your mom, and your family. I am so glad to hear that you have an awesome support system. Hugs to all.

My thoughts are with you and your Mom. She's lucky to have such a great family with her, and you're all lucky to have each other.

My dad's doctor told us that in situations like yours (and like ours was), families either pull together and get stronger, or they fall apart.

We were a family that pulled together and got stronger and closer. Sounds like your family is the same.

I have no idea how people handle that situation without a team. It's pretty hard to get through even WITH support.

The good news is that the closeness and the sense of being a team doesn't end when the situation ends. I had lots of love and respect for my brother and sister before my dad's last illness. Now, I love them even more.

Blessings and hugs and good thoughts for y'all and for your mom.

My heart is aching for you and your family. Peace to you all.

Having just lost my father six months ago under much the same circumstances, I have to say it's wrenching, yet a blessing, to have this time and this closeness. I am glad you see it for the blessing it is, but I also know your helplessness and pain. My thoughts are with you.

Blessings to all of you.
((((All of You))))

Can't get you all off my mind. Just know tons of people are with you if only in thought!

I was truly blessed to be present for the last few days of my G'pa's life, when he was in hospice. My aunt and my cousin and I camped out in the room with my G'pa, taking care of him, talking to him, making sure he was as comfortable as possible (which meant regular dope), and spelling each other for quick showers or bites to eat. The night before we died, we held his hands and told him that there was nothing left for him to do except be at peace. We told him that although we were not ready to lose him, he didn't need to stay if it was too hard.

The next morning he passed, and I was lucky enough to be sitting with him when it happened. As unbelievably painful an experience as that was, I wouldn't change a moment of it, and I know that it meant the world to him to have the people he loved most with him to the very end.

It speaks SO well of your little mama that she raised the daughters she did, who can love and honor her the way you all are.

oh hugs and love and kisses and all good things to you and yours. give your little mother extra hugs and kisses for me. i don't know how you do it. my heart just goes out to you. i love my mother so very much and i can't even imagine what you must be going through.

hug hug hug

Peace, Rachel.

Hang in there, Rach. I've never been through anything like this, but Sandra's told me a lot about how her father died. He was in the hospital until the end, and it was so hard. (Wow.. the understatement of the year, eh?)

I think it's amazing and magical your whole family is together for your mom like this. How special and fortunate. xo.

Well those of us who read the blog and know you, already knew that team Herron would be stellar. Loving thoughts to your mother and to all of you. We are sending you as much love, strength and good cheer as the air between here and there can handle.

You are all in my thoughts and prayers. I have done volunteer hospice care for seven years, and I am still amazed by the strength and love shown by families just as your family is doing now. Your Mama is blessed beyond counting by all of you. Your outlook, seeing that it is the hardest yet best that this situation can be truly shows how much goodness resides within you, and I'm sure you shine it upon others. Your sisters, your dad, your Little Mama, and your La are blessed to have you.

I have been thinking of you so often in the past several weeks, and have continued to try to generate as much love and peace for you and your little mama as I possibly can every single day. I think that your family is incredible and I am so glad that you are able to be together right now...I've worked as a social worker in the cancer unit at a hospital, and have been witness to far too many people dying alone. I am so glad that you all have each other! Take good care of each other and please know that I'm sending my positive thoughts and love in your direction!


I love you, my friend, and I am in awe and inspired by the strength and love of the Herrons.

Hi Rachel,
it is a gift to be able to care for a loved one on their way out of this life. Good family is also a gift. It is a terrible loss but how fortunate you are to have most excellent companions on the difficult journey.

My heart goes out to you and your family. It's almost too difficult to explain, but isn't hospice a blessing? I wish you peace.

A good friend of mine is a hospice nurse. She describes the process of death, quite a bit more beautifully than will I, undoubtedly, as the process of giving birth to a soul. There is labor, pain, heavy breathing, waiting family... all of the things anticipated in birth. And, she says, at the end of it, a soul is born, messy, perfect, and placed in the loving arms of its creator who has been anticipating that arrival and waiting in love for it to be born from one stage of life into the next.

I think it might be one of the most beautiful metaphors I've ever heard. Blessings to you and yours as you take this journey.

When we did this very thing for my grandfather, I put on a chef's jacket with the Tasmanian devil peeking out of the pocket and became the household caterer while my cousins did the dosing, so that we all could eat. There was a lot of pie, a lot of laughter, and we all slept sitting up in the same room.

May you continue to experience the beauty in this time for all it's worth, lovey. You all, whole family, Little Mama especially, deserve whatever beauty can be found wandering down such a tough, uncharted road, and I'm so glad to hear you're wandering together. It's far less scary en masse. You all rock.

All the love in the world to you, Rachael.

Oh my gosh, sweetie, big hugs for you and your family from a complete stranger in Georgia. I wish you all peace, especially your little Mama.

Oh, sweetie -- my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. And family is what it's all about, isn't it?

What at the beautiful, special, magical home your mama built and we can all feel all the love and kindness she has taught her daughers. Your compassionate deeds are a real testament to what an incredible mom and role model she is. I honor her, and you! Although these days are heartwrenching, I know you would not have it any other way and you are all so very lucky to have these choices, as difficult as they are - May you find grace and beauty in the days to come and find joy in the special little moments you will continue to share. I know when I lost my mom, she was quite young and everyone kept asking me if I was mad or angry and I was just the opposite, I was just SO greatful for every minute (however short) we had togehter, what you and your mom have is priceless and death really won't change that bond, you will always have her with you - sounds strange but it's true. Your perspective on life will change, you will find strength when you do not think you have any left, but there is such beauty and clairity in death that it's hard to even describe. I know these days are hard and we will all be here for you during your grieving as well. Lots of love, blessings and peace ...

Honey, love love love to you and your family. Your Mom is in wonderful, loving hands. Blessed to have you. So this love is for you. To give you the strength you need for this journey.

We did this with my Mom--we kept her at home and cared for her until she took her last breath--and I would like to offer a few comments that might help. First, when your Mom has a lucid moment, bite the bullet and make sure you know what her wishes are for her funeral and burial (or not). Your Mom has accepted that she is going to die, and she needs to be able to talk frankly when she is lucid. Also, near the end, when you and your family members are wiped out emotionally and physically, you may start to detach from your Mom, and you may even wish that it could all be over with. My sibs and I had those feelings. Your Mom slowly moves into a world in which she is drugged all of the time, and you know that nothing you can do will make her better or bring her back, and you just want it to be over. You feel guilty about feeling that way, but I believe this is normal. So, just do all you can--you will never regret keeping her home--and be easy with yourself and the other members of your family when you are all completely exhausted. You are making an incredibly loving sacrifice that, to you, is no sacrifice at all--it is just love. My thoughts are with you.

I'm so sorry Rachael, that she is no better. I keep checking back to see what is happening and you are in my prayers. I remember this time with my own Mama, and it is so hard. So hard. Do what you have to do and spend as much time with her as you can. It is a bittersweet blessing, but a blessing to be sure.
Praying for all of you and sending loves,

Oh, Sweetie...got no words for this just holding all of you in my heart, especially Janette. Much, much love to you all.

Lots of love to you and your family. You will really be happy you have this time together.

Oh Rachael...I am so very very sorry. Wish you all the greatest strength and comfort and love.

What a loving and courageous thing that you and yours are doing.

Blessed be...

I'm sorry to read all this, and I think you and your family are doing a wonderful thing for your mum. I wish you all the strength you (and your family) need for the time to come

Hugs to you all

Big hugs x

Hugs to Team Herron, I hope that Little Mama has no pain. I'm sending you all thoughts of strength.

Prayers and peace.

I don't doubt that it's hard, but I think you'll always remember this time as something you're so happy and grateful to have had, if it had to be. Take care of yourself, too.

Sending loving thoughts and knowing your little mama is one very lucky woman, to have her family with her during this momentous transition.

You and Lala and the rest of your family, y'all are just effing wonderful. That's all I can think of to say. My eyes are tearing up, but in a good way, and my thoughts are with you all.

Sending you hugs and comfort. Take good care.

Big hugs to you. Thank heavens for those hospice people; the nurse who was with us when my father died (two years ago yesterday, I read this post with tears in my eyes, somehow I knew to wait to read you until I got over the hump of yesterday)...anyway, that nurse said she found it to be a great privilege to be there, and I believe she was an angel on earth. I can still hear her voice, as I stared into a tumbler of scotch, telling me I would always have this point in my life, before, and after. She was right. I am sorry for what you and your family are going through, and I am glad you have the presence to stand back and see the small fleeting sparkles and twinkles of what is good and worthy of gratitude, despite the sadness that permeates the day.

Rachel- sending thoughts for peace, love and no pain your way every day.

Hugs and good thoughts to you and your family.

Much love and peace to your entire family.

What a beautiful, glorious, strong way to describe this time with your mother. Grace personified. Faith, love and peace be with you and your family. I wish her, you and them the best journey possible.

Such loving, wonderful words. I so remember when our family was in the zone with our mom that you guys are in. Stay present. Be good to yourselves. Know that everyone around you is sending good energy. Your mom is a lucky woman to be surrounded with the people she loves. Hugs and love and peace to you all and Little Mama.

I'm sorry, love.

On the mark of Bob's death 1 yr ago today, I share a piece of advice he told me when my parents died. "Its okay to be selfish and want our parents alive for us to feel better, but for them, they will feel better passing on to be with their parents once again."
From a Tibetan monk who helped me let my Mom go, he said, "Our parents know they have done all they can do here and their time has come for them to reunite with friends/family since passed. Don't be sad, be happy for them. The last thing they want to see when they part our company is a sad face as they enter their new afterlife. Tell them its okay for them to leave and that you will be okay."
Much love and respect in this time to you and the Herrons.

the one thing we all hope for is to be loved, to the end of our days. you are giving your mother the most beautiful transition to whatever may be next, and surrounding her with love. And i hope that love, and all the love we crazy knitters in the universe are sending your way, surrounds you all while you help your mother make this last journey.

Oh, Rachael -- all good loving thoughts to you and your family as you ease the little mama out of this world with such love and dignity and comfort. And please don't feel you have to make the best of it and be positive and upbeat for us (your adoring public). We all know you by now, and how you stay optimistic through so many trials and trying moments. We know you'll get through this. But we also know that right now you're not feeling too good and we can care about you so much, and your mom, and Lala, and your sisters, even if you don't feel like putting a good spin on things for the blog. You've touched our hearts. So now go take care of yourself and the L.M.

Stay strong through this Rachael.
Breathe deep and be brave,
lots of love

Just wanted to say that you will be grateful for the rest of your life that you did this. I lost my dad (our rock, dads are NOT supposed to ever die, right?) this March 15th, one week shy of his 75th birthday. It has helped tremendously to have been there for his passing, especially with the grieving process. I missed seeing my mom by 5 hours and it was so much harder. I'm so sorry and wish you the best during one of the most difficult times we all have to go through.

I didn't have a family team (their choice), but my Dad was so sure of how he wanted his life to end...it was like he chose the time so it wasn't too hard on me. Thank you for your beautiful posts.

Rachel and family - my thoughts and prayers are with you all. Treasure the good memories.

I am so sorry. I wish you all much peace at this time.

Since I couldn't post on today's blog post, I'll just say here that I'm very, very sorry. I'm sure your family will provide each other the support and love you need during this difficult time. My sincere condolences.

Oh honey. Blessings and peace to you and your family.

Words are so inadequate, but please know that I, like so many others, are thinking of you and your family and your mother in this so-very-difficult time.

I am so so sorry. You are being so strong, your whole wonderful family is being so strong. All my best wishes to you - your strength, grace and love for your family is inspiring.

I just read about your mom. I am so sorry. While I do not know what you are going thru I do know how I felt when my mother died. It is the most surreal moment in your life. Almost 3 weeks later I still can't believe my mother is not there. I know I still have a long road to go healing wise and I wish you all the best as you and your family go down that road.

Thinking of you. ~x~

Gentle hugs. My family's been there for me in the same way, and it's, well, as good as life gets. The whole finite thing is so hard, though, especially when combined with pain. Still have that cymbidium for you two -- it's at my dad's in Berkeley. Will try to connect this summer.

Add a hug from my DD...

OMG, Rachael! I am so sorry. Hugs to you and yours. I have been out of the blogging loop for awhile and just landed here by clicking on blogroll links. You are a very strong woman, if what I've read on your blog in the past is any indication. Just remember that you don't always have to be strong. Kick, scream, and cry. I loved reading your posts that included your beloved mama. ♥

Wishing you peace in your sorrow.

Thank you for sharing your journeys with us.

With love,

I am so very, very sorry.

Hi there -- I'm unknown to you, but a frequent lurker on your blog and wanted to say how sorry I am to hear about your mother's passing. My own mom is so dear to me that it just makes me think how lucky you are to have been cherished by and to have cherished your own mom. In years to come, I'm sure that you will wear your Norwegian mama-sweater as a warm reminder of your love for each other. Peace, Yvonne.

Oh my dear,

I have been where you are--almost exactly a year ago, in fact. And you're right, it is both a heart-wrenching and beautiful thing to help your mom die.

May her memory be eternal.

Rachel, there is a sisterhood of daughters for those of us who have lost our mothers. Only those of us without mothers can possibly know what that sisterhood is about. You are now one of us.

I've been checking your blog each day this past week in the hopes that you would post a paragraph, a sentence, even a word. Suddenly, today it was there:


Now it seems to be gone. Please make it stay gone.

My heart goes out to you,


Honey, I'm so sorry. And I'm so amazed and so proud of your strength and your ability to find beauty in all of this and laughter.

My thoughts are with you,

- Leslie

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