My mother died from a basal tip aneurysm on February 10, 1995. It feels so long ago and almost like it has never happened. I was 21 at the time and away at school. At about 6am on the morning of February 8th, my older sister called and frantically cried that "Something has happened to Mom!" I was still asleep when she called and was somewhat disoriented. The sound of her voice made me shoot straight up in bed and I began to panic. I asked her what was wrong, but she said she didn't know and that my Dad was with her at our town's small hospital in Texas.
I flew around my dorm room pacing. I didn't know who to call or what I should do. My roomie was understandably confused. I asked her to call my professors and tell them that I had a family emergency and had no idea when I could return to class. I then packed a bag and headed north for an hours drive to my hometown.
When I got to the hospital, I was thoroughly shaken. I ran into the emergency room and started looking frantically around. My dad must've seen me come in. The only person I had spoken with at this point was my sister, so I had no idea what to expect. My dad has always been strong emotionally, so it was extremely hard for me to see him with eyes blood shot from tears and a voice that trembled with each word. He explained that mom had suffered from a burst aneurysm around 2 a.m. and was in a coma. She had several strokes between 2 a.m. and early that morning and the prognosis was grim. I remember vaguely that a doctor told me she would be taken to Austin for surgery.
My family was Catholic and the priest was called to read her her last rites. When the priest arrived, he, my dad and myself gathered in a circle around my mother and grasped hands. This was the first moment I was brought in to see her. Her eyes were sealed shut with tape because they wouldn't close as a result of the stroke. Her skin was so pale it was almost translucent. I couldn't believe this was my mother!
My mother was eventually transferred to Austin after what felt like an eternity. My brothers and sisters flew into the city and we gathered together in the emergency room waiting room refusing to leave. The neurosurgeon came in to explain the surgery. Her aneurysm was on the part of her brain that controls involuntary body functions like heart beat and breathing. He wasn't sure what would happen. My mom was 49 and had smoked for over 20 years though she had quit a few years earlier. My mother's sister had just suffered and survived 5 aneurysms the year before. I felt so completely disheartened. The surgeon then asked if there were any questions. He stood there for several minutes while the family looked numb. Finally, I screamed "Would you please LEAVE and go save my mother?!" The doctor smiled and said he would do absolutely everything he could. Doctors always seem to say that.
The surgery was successful only my mother suffered a heart attack during the procedure. Her heart was stopped for several minutes before they finally revived her. The doctors told us they now had to worry about brain swelling, but it looked like the worst was over and that the family should go home and rest.
On the evening of February 9th, the hospital called and said my mother's brain had begun to swell uncontrollably and that there was nothing more they could do. She was brain dead. I recall that they did some kind of test to verify that assumption and the results were conclusive.
They unhooked her from life support and everyone took a turn saying good-bye. When my turn came, I gazed into my mother's face. Her head was wrapped in bandages, but she looked so peaceful. I whaled a soulful cry and threw my arms around her neck screaming "Mommy don't leave! Don't GO!!" I was sobbing so hard my Dad came and gently pulled me away. They asked if we wanted to stay with her till she passed, but I just couldn't bear it. I regret this and wish I had stayed.
Time has passed; however, I don't believe I've ever really come to grips with what has happened. When people ask me about my mom, I explain that she passed away from a basal tip aneurysm like I would explain how to make chocolate chip cookies. I've felt so removed from the situation. I don't like to harp on tragedy and have never felt comfortable grieving. I don't like people feeling sorry for me. But recently as I was searching the web, I had the urge to learn more about what killed my mother. My dad has never discussed it with me, and I've never felt comfortable asking. Thank you all so much for listening to me. I hope that through knowledge and through the words of other people's similar stories, I can begin to heal.
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