Sherry Hopkins column

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 14, 2007

Get the picture? by Sherry Hopkins
Moorings slow to return after mother’s death a year ago


I’ve lost my mooring. I didn’t just become aware that that is the problem that has plagued me this whole year. I have been adrift, not for the first time in my life and not by my own hand, but by life itself.

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There is life and then there is death.

As I have shared with you my mother died a year ago. This has been the first time I have experienced life without her. In my early adulthood I was away and did not have that close bond a daughter shares with her mother, a bond made closer by the sharing of experiences one to another.

Then I moved here and the day to day interaction between Momma and me grew into a wonderful relationship that I cherished, one that I had yearned for for many years.

Every day since she died I have longed to ask her a question or tell her some exciting news.

To just talk and look at her face.

In the last three days of her life she was unconscious. I stayed with her those three days, watching as her body fought the imminent last breath. A “rally” they called it — struggle between life and death —when your mind knows it’s time to go and your body fights on. It was traumatic to watch. She moaned and cried and I spoke softly to her, stroking her face and hair, assuring her that I was there and she was all right.

But of course she wasn’t all right. She was dying. On the last day in the final hours, she seemed to finally find some peace, a peace that I think that escaped her most of her life. As family gathered around her bed she lay quietly breathing infrequently.  

We stood there circling her in love for what seemed like hours. It was only minutes. As two of her grandsons entered the room, her old diseased worn out heart took its last beat. Moments later she took her last breath and her head rolled softly to the side. The hospice nurse looked at me and shook her head in a gesture that meant it was over. I continued to hold her hand not wanting to let go just yet.

“I’ve never been without a mother before,” I thought. “I can’t let go.”

But I had to let go. My hands were required elsewhere. I needed to console her grandsons. They desired me to hold them in their grief.

As each family member left that night my own grief was lessened by the knowledge that she was in a better place. She would no longer have to rely on a heart that could no longer sustain a quality life. I would miss her but she was now safe and whole and happy.

Just days before she died we were trying desperately to plan her immediate future. Options were sadly limited. She looked up at me as I stood over her trying to console her and she remarked with tears flowing down her cheeks, “My soul is ready to die but I’m just not ready yet.”

“I know Momma, I’m not ready either.”

She was scared at this crossroads of her life. The unknown, the finality.

Today I am adrift, floating aimlessly, looking for my mooring. She would want me to be strong and she would want me to anchor myself somehow.

I feel as lost today as I did a year ago. But I know that time will heal me and my faith will anchor me. I’m just waiting on time.

You get the picture.

(Contact Sherry Hopkins at