When is it over?
When are we done?
When have our lives
Finished their run?

A stroke of his scythe
Took half of her brain,
And left organs failing
In a cascading chain.

Though unconscious, she lingered,
Her breath fed by machine,
In a place neither here nor there
But somewhere between.

When she was younger
And could still speak her mind
She said, “When my time comes,
Please let me die. That would be kind.”

But now the end is near and
Her old body is ready to go.
It’s so hard for them to say goodbye,
And accept what they know.

Because she loved them,
There was nothing they lacked.
Because they love her,
It’s time to give back.

The machines and tubes are gone now.
The lights are dimmed and she’s resting in peace.
They sit by her side and watch her last breaths.
“We love you, Mom.  Thank you.  Godspeed.”

As I write this, my husband and his sisters are sitting with their 94-year-old mother as she dies. She often said that the one thing she feared the most was to have a stroke that would destroy her brain, leaving her to linger trapped in a useless body.  She had watched her mother-in-law’s life end that way, and she asked her children not to let that happen to her.

Yesterday morning (Saturday), she had a massive stroke that destroyed the right side of her brain. Medical science can keep her alive, but it can never give her back what she has lost. Were she to live, she would be paralyzed on the left side and blind in the left eye, which is the only eye with any vision left.  She would probably be unable to speak and be understood. And she would never again be able to appreciate music, which was one of the few pleasures she had left. 

As hard as it is for her children to honor her wishes, they love her, and so they have.  Tonight, the respirator and all the tubes were removed.  Without them, her breath will likely slow, and then end in a few days. She will be kept comfortable, and allowed to go peacefully, her family at her side.

Godspeed, Mary.

Update:  She died Wednesday night, slipping away peacefully with her family around her.


Written for One Shot Wednesday.


  1. my thoughts are with you and your family...take care Pete

  2. Heartbreaking, of course. But it's the right decision as we'd all want that for ourselves. My condolences to you and your family. It was a noble write and likely soothed your spirit. Sending you strength and bouquets of love. Gay

  3. Certain choices are very hard to make.. but one has to make them, keeping in mind the wellbeing of the person concerned...
    I hope she finds her peace...

    My thoughts and best wishes are with you and your family, Patti...

  4. Oh Patti, I am so sorry. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  5. Patti - it's a tough time. Time for tears and reliving the past. Know that you are loved sweet friend.

  6. Love this....oh, so true.
    Kudos to her children, for heeding her wishes. We all just want that,
    in the end.

  7. Aw, Patti. (HUG!) I admire you sharing this. My heart goes out to you and yours. God bless.

  8. This is such a beautiful, deeply affecting poem, and having been in a similar position with my own mum a few years ago, I know how hard it is. But also how right. With best wishes for all x

  9. I'll light a candle for you tonight Patti. My thoughts are with you.

  10. I'm thinking of you at this sad time.

  11. Sorry for your loss.

  12. God be with you and your family during this time. ..bkm

  13. please pass my condolences off to your family...its hard to watch a mother pass...prayers....

  14. Its hard to let go, even when you know its the right thing. Thoughts are with your family.

  15. My heart is with you and your family, Patti, as you stand with Mary on the threshold between now and Beyond.

  16. So sorry this had to happen - but I'm glad that they are all there with her. I'll keep you & your family in my prayers.

  17. Patti, am so sorry for what all of you will be going through this next while. But this was a very kind and loving decision. She will bless you all for it. My mother had made me promise countless times to never let her be hooked up to machines. It was her worst nightmare. She told her doctor the same thing more than once. He and I concurred, when she was dying. But another family member, who had power of attorney, reversed the Do Not Recusitate order. When my mom came to, she was horrified to find she was on machines - her eyes met mine in disbelief. And I couldnt tell her that it wasnt me. At the very end I did say that I had tried to tell them her wishes, but could say no more. She endured seventeen days of mortal agony and the end result was her death, which would have been easier at the beginning of her dying process. One is never ready to say goodbye. It is the hardest of times. But this was a most loving and wise decision. You blessed her with godspeed.

    Beautiful poem and tribute to her. Take care, Patti. I'm here if you need to "talk" via email:)

  18. Such a beautiful and heartfelt poem. My heart goes out to you and your family. Blessings.

  19. Oh, Patti....the pain of this is so universal. Please know that I send my condolences out to you and your family.

    I faced exactly this with my French Horn playing father 21 years ago, and it still haunts me.

    My thoughts to you, dear soul.

    Lady Nyo

  20. A decision so painful, but so right. She will smile down on you all for this gift. Peace to you and your family Parri. Be well in the difficult days to come.

  21. Patti, thanks for sharing this. My mother-in -law is also 94 and like you, we know the 'right thing to do' and have discussed it, though it is difficult.

    Out thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  22. It touched me ... I liked it so much...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya

  23. We all share your grief and honour the bravery of a family doing the one final favour they can for a loved one, however hard it is.
    A well expressed piece.

  24. such a difficult, gentle, compassionate decision. May God bless her on her journey and the whole family as you grieve and love together.

  25. I'm so sorry. Love and prayers to you all.

  26. Coming over here from my first participation in One Shot Wednesday. I'm sorry to meet you under such sad circumstances, yet, what is poetry, if not the expression of the deeper voice of our souls? May you and your family have peace as you journey through this time, and I can only echo your words for your mother-in-law, "Godspeed."

  27. Beautiful. Her wishes were honored by those who love her. But that doesn't mean it's easy. Your words were a lovely tribute to love of family at the end of life's jouney.

  28. Patti I'm so sorry. But I agree, let her die with dignity. Heartfelt love and commiserations to you and your family. There's never a right time to die, even at her advanced age, the loss of someone so close is devastating. I'll be thinking of you and yours over coming days and wish Mary safe passage to wherever she travels.

  29. This is very sad. My mom had a DNR. She didn't want to allow machines to keep her alive. She died peacefully in her home.

  30. Very hard-- this resonates so in me w/ my dad's death and my aging mom. hard to let them go. Beautifully written, Patti.

  31. We are with you and Bill, Patti. This is me ... holding your hand.

  32. You are all so wonderful. You have no idea how much your words of support mean to me, and to my family. I showed them the post last night, and they were as deeply touched by your comments as I am.

    My mother-in-law died last night, slipping away peacefully with her family around her.

    Thank you so much for being such good friends.

  33. Blessings on you and your family at this time of grief. She died as we all hope- surrounded by loved ones with last wishes respected. My heart goes out to you and thanks for sharing your heart, my friend.

  34. It's a good thing she said something when she could. The natural inclination might be to leave her that way for waaaay too long. I've already told everyone in my family I don't want to linger.

  35. What a lovely way to leave this world...peacefully, with family by your side. Blessings to your family during this difficult time.

  36. Since I leave the writing to Mom, I'll borrow Robert Harling's words... (I hope he doesn't mind.)

    "When something like this happens, I pray very hard to make heads or tails of it.... She wanted to take care of...you, of everybody he knew… and her poor body was just worn out. It wouldn‟t let her do everything she wanted to do. So she went to on to a place where she could be a guardian angel. She will always be young. She will always be beautiful. And I personally feel much safer knowing she‟s up there on my side. I know some people might think that sounds real simple and stupid… and maybe I am. But that‟s how I get through things like this." ~Annelle

    Goodspeed, Gramma.

  37. 'Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.' W.S.
    Rest now, Mary the Great. How valiant thou art.

  38. They did the right thing. God bless them and her and you. Holding you in heart and prayer and so very sorry for your loss, Patti.

    Blessings ...


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