I wasn't there when it happened. I was in my car, racing down the freeway to mom's apartment, hoping to arrive in time and wondering What the Hell Happened.
My walk through the lobby and down the hallway was surreal...time stopped and I was walking in slow-motion.
The receptionist greeted me with a warm, sad smile. The housekeeper upstairs wouldn't look at me in the eye. A group of seniors were in the activity room singing, and it felt flat and joyless. Mom's door was locked...which never happened.
I knocked on the door erratically, willing my brain to catch-up to that point in time. It seemed to be lagging behind, refusing to accept events as they unfolded. The door was answered by the Home Manager, a wonderful woman who my mother adored. She stepped outside and shut the door behind her. She spoke in a hushed tone.
"I'm sorry, Jill. Your mother is gone."
"She passed in her sleep just a few minutes ago."
While the Home Manager explained what transpired, I snapped. Turned on my heel and walked straight to the exit. I wanted to howl.
I've since learned that mom's passing was peaceful and painless. Her caretaker held her hand and stroked her forehead and told her that God would protect her...that she had nothing to fear. Mom looked at her straight in the eye and smiled. Then, without a word, she closed her eyes.
And she was gone.