My mother passed away yesterday, and while we knew that this would be happening sooner rather than later, we still did not expect that it would happen quite so suddenly.

She had been disabled for several years, and while her condition had taken a slow downward turn over the last few months (it was getting harder for her to hold things and her eyes were getting worse), her health took a very steep decline last week.  That’s because she found out that her sister had just died.  Her sister was the last person left who remembered her as a little girl, one of the last people she spoke Latvian with, and basically one of her last connections to her early life.  The last time I spoke to my mother we talked about the usual things like books and food, but she also asked me about whether or not I believed in an afterlife and whether or not I thought she would see her family when she died.  It was a hard conversation, but I don’t know if it would have been easier or harder if I’d known it would be the last conversation we would ever have.

Wednesday morning I got a message from Life Alert while I was at a meeting downtown.  By the time I was on the bus heading back uptown she had been taken to the hospital, and by the time we got to the hospital she had already gone into cardiac arrest several times and was currently in a vegetative state.  Over the course of the next few days I found my copy of her living will and brought it to the hospital, and they disconnected her from the medicines and machines.  She passed away yesterday morning.

Since my mother planned ahead for her own death more than most people I know, she’d already made arrangements for her body to be donated to Columbia University’s medical program so that we wouldn’t have to deal with a funeral or with funeral expenses (thanks, Mom).

Thank you for listening, and thank you for your support.  Thank you also for your advice, on topics like … Now that I found the will, what do I do with it? and What are some good companies/organizations that will accept (and preferably pick up) donations? and What about wheelchairs?  She had several wheelchairs, and I’d like them to go to people who need them!

I’m on bereavement leave right now, and I’m spending the next few days going back and forth between my place and my mother’s place (which has zero internet access).  So if you write to me and it takes me a while to get back to you, I apologize in advance.  My evenings are being reserved for the tougher stuff, like calling family members and reading condolences.  My days are being spent with my brother cleaning stuff out of my mother’s apartment, which is also tough but in different ways.

Once again … thank you, thank you, and thank you.

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