The Terrifying Last 18 Days

Keisha shares the last terrifying days of her mother’s life and the comfort she received along the way.

Keisha writes:
“Hi jade, this is my experience with my mom. Sorry it’s so long, but it tells the whole story of the terrifying last 18 days of her life. Since I wrote this, I also have been experiencing repeating numbers such as 1:11, 11:11, 4:44 and I even unplugged my ihome and the screen was blank all except “11” blinking. When I plugged it back in it went away.”

“My mom passed away on June 29th, 2015. This is by far the worst heartache I have ever experienced. It was a long journey; 18 days in critical care, ups and downs, a complete roller coaster ride of pure hell and emotions that I have never felt in my life before. If you’ve ever been there, you will know exactly what I’m talking about.”

“Surprisingly, I have learned a few good things out of this horrible experience. First of all, that the heart can withstand so much heartache and pain that even though it feels like you may die at any minute… you don’t… and that will surprise you! (At this point death doesn’t seem like such a bad thing… at least my mom could wrap her arms around me again and I could feel her comfort). Second, I have learned that your family and friends can love you, and be there for you, so much… that you could vomit! Having said that though… it’s good. It’s okay with them that you say ugly things and they will still love you anyway! You can’t stand the fact that they are smothering you to death, but the minute they leave you, you feel the anxiety creeping up on you in a different way. Third, I realized that on the first night of my mom’s hospital stay, that angels and heaven are in fact, real…even though sometimes when we don’t understand things, it’s easy to question our faith. At first I thought everything that was happening to me was coincidence, but I will explain and you tell me what you think.”

“It was the first night in the hospital, June 11th, 2015. We were all gathered in surgical; waiting, anticipating the surgery that we all knew was dangerous for mom, but it had to be done. She had a kidney stone that was blocking her kidney and it had infected her bloodstream (Sepsis). Needless to say, it had to be removed and a stint placed to drain the infection. Mom had a lot of underlying health problems, so the doctors were also a little worried about the simple procedure that was about to take place in order for her to keep living. We all were nervous and few words were exchanged between any of us.”

At one point, the anxiety grew so high, I decided I needed to have a talk with God, alone. As I went into the bathroom with tears rolling down my face, seconds seemed like hours. I got down on my knees and started praying. Praying loudly, just to make sure the man upstairs could hear me. I don’t go to church every Sunday and my faith, at this point, was not the main focus in my life, but I knew he was the only one who could help us. I trusted and had faith that he would! After about 20 minutes, I had finished up my talk with God, and my husband was knocking on the door to check on me, because I had been gone so long. I composed myself, dried my tears and returned to the waiting room with my family who were all confined to one small area; each taking turns pacing the floors. I sat down, grabbed my phone to answer texts and messages from family and friends who were also waiting for an update, and I happened to look up and notice beside my mom’s name on the computer screen that gave updates to family in the waiting area, were four letters separated by a comma and a space that read, “God, L.” To me this was ironic after I had just prayed to the same name in the bathroom floor. Of course, I knew it must be another patent’s initials, just like my mom’s that showed up as “Matt, W.” I pointed it out to my family to break the ice and to my surprise, they too were a little more comfortable at that moment.”

“We all sat around for what seemed, like days, waiting on that call from the O.R., FINALLY the phone rings, it was the doctor. My mom’s surgery was done and all went well. He was going to send her up to critical care, since we still had to battle the side effects of the sepsis. My step dad hung up the phone and walked back over to give us the good news. As he was walking back to his chair, he picked up a penny on heads and gave it to my daughter. After all, we needed a little good luck, right?”

“The doctors finally got mom up to ICU and we walked in to see her laying in bed; sleeping very sound with a choir of beeping alarms going off everywhere in the room. Mom was on a ventilator and would be for a few days in order to give her time to beat this infection and to be on the safe side, in case she went into septic shock. We were all so thankful she had made it through the first milestone to a long process.”

“A few days went by and my mom’s condition started to get worse as she went into septic shock. Her blood pressure remained low and she had multi-organ failure and is put on dialysis. I just remember thinking God, you can’t take my mom. All I could see was her just laying there so helpless, not even knowing she was in the world.”

angel“My family gathered around a small table in the break room and had the discussion about what mom would want if she passed away. Talking about mom’s funeral and arrangements seemed like a foreign language to me. Surely mom wouldn’t die and leave us alone. After our dreaded conversation was over, I needed some air so I walked down to my car with my husband. I was sobbing uncontrollably and when I looked up, I saw what appeared to be the figure, or image of an angel in the wall. I immediately told my husband to look, and he confirmed he could see it, as well. I snapped a picture of this and it really had my mind racing with overwhelming feelings of comfort and questions.”

“Later that night while resting in bed, I looked up scriptures that went along with the image I had captured. The first scripture I came across was psalms 91:11 which seemed so fitting for the situation as it reads: “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”  I immediately put the verse on the picture, printed, and framed it. The very next day, I placed the photo beside mom’s bedside, where it would remain for the rest of her life. The next day mom woke up and I showed her the photo. At this time, she was unable to speak but she held the picture and I saw tears in her eyes.”

rainbow“For the next couple of days she remained on dialysis and the ventilator. Her condition had improved a little bit but not drastically. At this point, I had to get back to work, so I went home to paint a couple of end tables for a client. As I was painting them, I looked down and saw a rainbow reflecting on the bottom of the table. I thought, ” how nice”, and just continued working. My son came in and stepped around the corner and said, “mom, do you see that rainbow?” I replied yes, and all of a sudden, I had that happy comforting feeling again! A little confused about all of the extraordinary things I had been seeing, I decided to look up angel encounters and messages from them. While reading an article about an angel encounter that someone else had experienced, they had mentioned angel sparkle. Not knowing what angel sparkle was, I clicked on the link and ironically on that page the first thing that popped up was a rainbow! I burst into tears as I shared it with my husband and my children. I felt sure all these signs that were showing up out of the blue were surely angels. At this time I felt that they were telling me everything was going to be okay.”

“Mom continued to improve, her white blood count went down; almost to normal. Her kidneys started to function somewhat on their own and she was able to breathe on her own, so the ventilator was removed. Although with all the improvements, the doctors wanted to set up a meeting about her overall prognosis. In this meeting they explained that they thought she had suffered a stroke in her brain stem which had left her right leg and left arm unable to move, and with her breathing, it would be possible to put a trachea in if it got any worse. They felt with all of her underlying health problems, that her quality of life would be nothing and asked me to stop dialysis and consider putting a DNR on her. They also thought it was a good idea to get palliative care involved with us.”

“I was so puzzled because I thought she was improving a little bit each day. I kindly explained to the doctors that I needed time to think about this and I would let them know at a later time. After many hours and prayers, my family and I decided she had come through so much and with the small improvements we still had much hope for her. We were not giving up. After many prayers, I had asked God to please not leave that decision up to me, that if it was her time to go, to please take her peacefully and quickly and the way he wanted her to go, but to not leave that decision up to me. I told the doctors that I would sign a DNR, but that was only pertaining to her heart. If it stopped, not to resuscitate her. (From what the doctors had told me the day before she would never pull through CPR, and it would cause her to have broken bones and she would never heal) The doctors seemed to be okay with my decision.”

“Three days later, the doctor came in to tell us that her condition has really surprised him; and she would be leaving ICU today to go into a regular room. She had such a great happy day. Despite her leg and arm being paralyzed, she seemed unaware of anything being wrong with her at all. She was still a little delirious, but that seemed to be expected after 18 days in ICU. She sang, talked, laughed and had a great day. Later that night I called her best friend (who never left her side for 18 days…mom’s angel) and asked her how she was. She told me she was still about the same, so I asked her to tell mom I love her and went to bed.”

“At 2:30 am my phone rings and it’s mom’s friend telling me to come down to the hospital in a hurry because mom had stopped breathing. I woke my husband and we rushed there as fast as we could, but by the time we got there at 3:01am, my sweet momma was gone. All I could do was scream for her! I was in denial and disbelief as I saw her lifeless body laying there and there was nothing I could do to help her. She was gone and it was the scariest feeling I had ever experienced. Did it hurt? Was she scared? What had happened? I prayed, I bargained with God, begged for him to please let my mom come back to me. She was so helpless, I was so helpless. I felt the world crashing all around me. My family gathered around her bed and cried and prayed. It’s all we knew at the time to do! My stomach was in knots and it felt as if someone was crushing my heart in their hand. I couldn’t breathe; I was hyperventilating, the feelings I felt were almost indescribable. All I wanted was her. How could MY mom be gone and what happened to her soul when she left her body, and where was she? Was she okay with leaving me, because I didn’t know if I would survive her leaving me. So many unanswered questions and my mind was racing.”

“An hour or so passed as we waited on the doctors to pronounce her.  It was now time to discuss where her poor lifeless body would be taken for a proper funeral etc.. My worst fears were there, right in front of me. The “what if” conversation I had with my family a little over a week ago was now real life, a complete nightmare. On the ride home my husband and I barely spoke. The 30 minute drive seemed like hours.”

“As we all met back at my house to talk about arrangements and prepare for final goodbye, we all noticed the clouds with beams of light going up to what looked like where heaven would be. My mom was gone, never will I see her pretty face or hear her sweet voice again, but the clouds and beams of light gave me comfort.”

“The next few days were a blur, funeral arrangements, visits and calls from friends, trying to get everything in place to put my beautiful mom to rest; it was all overwhelming and seemed like a dream. All I wanted to do was give her a beautiful service that she more than deserved. I had been on a mission, printing photos, putting together a slide show, picking out the best songs to describe her and all this I had to do while my body was numb and my brain was foggy. Sometimes I feel this must be the body’s natural defense to losing someone you love.”

“At the service, I welcomed many people and listened to their condolences and the many stories of how she had helped them all, in one way or another. I couldn’t be more proud of the woman my mother was and all these people just confirmed that I wasn’t just being biased. She was a great person and I had decided I would do everything I could to carry that on for her, even though I could never fill her shoes, I could try my best.”

“The service began and my sister had written the most beautiful poem about angels. The Preacher who knew my mom well, had nothing but the best to say about her. When the final song played ( Allan Jackson, Sissy’s song) something phenomenal happened. Everyone in the building raised their hands to praise God. Never had I seen anything like that before in my life at a funeral. Even the funeral director said he had nothing to do with that and it was so heartfelt. Surely the presence of The Lord was there. I could feel it and that was something I had never felt before. It was beautiful.”

rainbow“After mom’s funeral, my close family and friends decided to go have dinner together because family, good food and socialization was priority in moms favorite things to do. When we left the restaurant, my friend sent me a pic of the brightest rainbow I had ever seen right outside the restaurant. I guess I must have missed that when we left, but he sure didn’t! It was gorgeous! There it was again another sign from the heavens! One more thing to add to the list! God sure was sending me messages left and right!”

Keisha's beloved mom

1954 to 2015

“The next few days grew darker, the urge to call her grew unbelievably strong. The feelings of being alone and lost in this world were horrible. I felt like an orphan. I couldn’t eat or sleep but couldn’t get out of bed either. Physically and mentally so exhausted and the hurt was so bad it drained every single part of my being. The best way I know to describe it is that every ounce of blood is drained from your body and there is a huge hole in your stomach and all your insides are seeping out after they have been squeezed by a boa constrictor as a tornado is spinning inside your entire body and brain and you are standing in the middle of a dark forest all alone. Yes… that may be close to the feeling!”

“For the next two weeks I laid in bed, trying to find answers to the millions of questions I had racing through my mind. There were hours of endless reading about spirits, souls, heaven and the afterlife. You name it, I read it! I screamed out to God for the answers, I begged him to send my mom’s spirit to me one last time for closure! But NOTHING! All the signs I had before had vanished with no sign of heaven or my mom anywhere in sight! I couldn’t understand why they had stopped. Was this all Gods way of preparing me for mom’s death? And what about after? When I needed him and her the most? Everyone had dreamt of her and she had given them advise or closure to some extent, but why not me?!? Did mom really not love me like I thought? Finally, I was home alone and I call out to her loudly, “Mom I need a sign from you that you are okay without me, because I can’t be okay until I know you are. 20 minutes go by and no letter falls from the sky, nothing falls off the wall, no doors open, nope, NOTHING! So I played Sissy’s song, the same song from her funeral, and just start singing. Much to my surprise everything just all came together, all the signs, all the things that had happened to me came from the heavens; letting me know that he was preparing me for her passing and everything that had happened after, the beams of light, the rainbows, the poem my sister wrote, the overwhelming feeling of his presence at her service, it all goes together. The reason I haven’t felt her presence is simply because she hadn’t left me yet! This gave me comfort, knowing that God had been looking out for me and somehow I figured mom had a part in it also.”

“My faith would come and go in the next week or so, one minute trusting him to get me through all of this and the next shooting my anger straight to him, then asking for his forgiveness over and over! I had spoken to my stepdad a few days later about the things I was feeling and he told me to look up a video on a sermon my mom had watched the Sunday before she got so sick. He thought it would give me some comfort. I looked it up and I watched it. It talked about the 3 levels of heaven and ironically 5 times in his sermon this man mentioned the verse psalms 91:11. Could this be real? Was this really happening and how could it be this was the last sermon my mom heard before she passed away? I realize that God was getting ahold of my heart, he was really talking to me through this sermon. The reason I know is because sitting on my bed, I realized it was time I gave my heart back to him and that very moment, sitting on my bed, watching this video I prayed along with this man and I accepted Jesus in my heart and the craziest thing happened while I’m repeating this prayer; I’m crying and praying and I could honestly feel heat moving throughout my body and exit my head. It was amazing!”

“From this point on I will live by his word, and now I have a testimony to share with others! God is good and without him I would never be able to make it from one day to the next after my mom’s death. I am still healing and everyday I miss her more and more. However, I have found peace knowing that my mom is in heaven and that she is walking with Jesus and with all of her family there. I know that she is no longer suffering and she will now enjoy her eternal life in the Kingdom of God! I also know now that I will see her again someday and this brings me great comfort. I will say to anyone who is going through the loss of their mother, grieve as long as you need to, put your trust in God for comfort and pay close attention to your feelings and emotions. The answers and comfort will come from within yourself and deep in your heart and through your faith.”

“Losing your mom is a life-changing process. I can’t promise that life will ever be what it was before, because I don’t know, but I do know that there is a point of relief, but the only way to get there is through your own heart and emotions, feelings and faith.

Commentary- Seeing the same repetitive numbers is often a sign telling us to pay close attention; something is about to happen. One can also see numbers that have to do with dates, events, scriptural passages and anything else that the living and deceased loved one share as important and significant. In this case, the numbers represent a Bible passage which serves as a foundation for Keshia; paving the way for comfort and support from beyond.

Keshia jokingly mentions the pros and cons of a support system, but she knows the power behind having one, for sure. Without friends and family around, the passing of a loved one would seem much too overwhelming to handle alone. It is important to let people be there for you. Often times, well-meaning people don’t know how to help, especially because death is a tough one for many to confront. What is most difficult to confront is the fact that we all must pass through that door, and it’s just a matter of time before we do. Some have the illusion that if they don’t get too deeply involved in the conversation, that death and the effects of death will pass over them. We all know that’s not happening. The sooner one confronts the eventuality of their own death, the sooner they can move on to live a fuller life!

Throughout history, rainbows have appeared as a sign, and even as a promise to tell us to never fear; everything will be alright in the end, if not sooner. And although it’s hard to believe it while in the darkness of grief, with the passage of time and proper healing, painful wounds close up to make us whole again. Angels are another sign of support, letting us know we are not alone in our struggles.

Having to make important life or death decisions on behalf of a loved one carries a lot of emotional weight, as well as the physical stress it can put on the body. “What to do?” “What if I make a bad judgment call?” “What is the “right” thing to do?” Who knows the correct answers to all of these questions? If only someone would just appear and tell us the “right” thing to do. And… what if we make a mistake, what about the blame later? Being responsible for these choices can be very stressful. So it’s usually better when a loved one passes on their own rather than on the tremendous burden of someone’s choosing.

Through her mother’s best friend, Keshia was able to send her love and say goodbye to her mother one last time before her mother’s passing. It seems that Keshia’s request about not leaving the decision up to her was heard, as Keshia’s mother passed in a peaceful state on her own. And Keshia is right when she says that a numb body and foggy brain is part of a defense mechanism for loss. The brain is confused. It’s in shock and denial and it takes awhile for it to make sense of the things it can neither understand nor comprehend at the time. It takes time.

At the funeral service, Keshia mentions the spiritual experience that took place as her mother was honored for the woman she was in life. Perhaps Keshia’s mother and angels attended as her life was remembered in the many beautiful and thoughtful ways she touched those around her. With such a phenomenal experience, sometimes the comedown can be hard. While it is easy to feel the awesome feelings of high emotions in the company of those celebrating the deceased loved one’s life, there are always those quiet moments alone when the sadness and loss of what was, creeps in. And Keshia gives a pretty vivid description of what that loss felt like to her. Pretty painful, I’d say.

But later, when Keshia began to be in the moment, she was able to connect with her mother’s spirit once more. You see, our loved ones do not exist in our thoughts and feelings from a past that is no longer with us, they exist in every now. That’s how she was able to get connected again so quickly. Our loved ones are with us in each and every now, but as a human… it’s just not such a common place to be. Many times, when we are distraught, we are either in the past (where depression exists) or the future (where anxiety lives). Living in the present is largely a self-generated way of being, that is… unless you are a child who hasn’t yet been bogged down with life’s disappointments and disillusionments. Easier said than done though. You might say, “I am present right now to the fact that I am feeling very sad.” While this is being presence to an emotion, you are still experiencing something from the past that is giving you your thoughts and feelings of sadness.

Here’s the thing. You are designed to be human. Avoiding unpleasant emotions is just avoiding being human and growth too. It’s alright. Feel the feelings and they will pass when the grief process is finished. It’s a beautiful process that allows one to heal to completion. I can’t say it enough. It is a sacred process to appreciate and honor.

Death of a loved one is such a painful process to experience, that often we sink to devastating depths of anguish. In our pain, we reach the end of our coping skills, which may force some into a spiraling downward crisis toward insanity and/or self-destruction. The undeniable devastation is sometimes met with suicide when all known coping skills are exhausted and the brain sees no other alternative but to self-destruct in some way, shape or form.

The alternative is that our pain is humbling to us when we see that the experiences of life hold much more than we can handle or control. This causes some to surrender to a higher power and/or higher aspect of ourselves. Our spiritual self, that is. This is when many spiritual conversions and awakenings are born. In this case, we see that Keshia has experienced the latter. When this happens, we are privy to a whole new way of looking at the world and it’s happenings. Many of the things we can’t understand become, at least, manageable. Faith replaces fear. Serenity and grace are qualities often born of such a harrowing experience as this.

Although we miss our loved ones, we soon find that there is nothing to do about it but to remember them and continue to love them as we grieve their loss. Already having, or embracing a higher power, belief system and/or lifestyle that supports, comforts and gives peace of mind can be vital in one’s healing process. For by ourselves, and without sufficient strength, surviving the death of a loved one can seem almost insurmountable.

For more about the grief process, see Grief and Mourning. What’s the Difference, Stages of Grief, Coping with Death, “I Didn’t See That Coming!”Grieving…

9 thoughts on “The Terrifying Last 18 Days

  1. Thanks for taking the time to share your story. You aren’t alone in your feelings. Plug into the power source available to you via prayer – that will help you in the days to come.

  2. My heart goes out to you Keisha for the loss of your lovely mother. I know that I will never be ready for my mom to go and I have tears in my eyes now just thinking about how sad I will be when she passes one day. I know it is all perfect and all divine, and yet it will most likely be the hardest thing I will have to go through in my life. So much love to you and to all who have lost those near to their hearts! xoSara

  3. Thanks so much to all of you! Losing her was the hardest thing I have ever experienced by far. Although I will say out of every bad experience something good is supposed to grow, and it has. Now more than ever I have looked at my life and realized that life and what you do while you are here is so important. I’m taking all the bad experiences and turning them into positive energy to get me through to a new me. I will however never get over my moms death but forming a new outlook on life is going to be my new beginning. It is a necessity to getting through this experience. Much love to you all and a special thanks to Jade for everything you have done to help me through this.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I can relate to how hard it is being faced with life and death decision making and the uncertainty of the end of life hospital course…such difficult decisions. I like the commentary about support both from people in our lives and a spiritual connection. Thanks.

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