A story about the death of Marie Nyerges, an excerpt from Christopher Nyerges’ Kindle book, “Til Death Do Us Part?”, also available as a pdf from www.ChristopherNyerges.com
There was the cancer diagnosis of 1997. I was devastated. I could not believe that it was possible that my own mother could have cancer, and both Dolores and I spent time with Marie (my mother) talking about the possible results of the surgery her doctors were recommending. I recall some nights at home feeling lost, hopeless, realizing Marie could die from the surgery alone. After all, she was nearly 80 years old. I’m sure Marie was fretful, feeling a sort of terror, frightened, hopeful though that something could be done. Frank, my dad, her husband, was quiet, perhaps uncertain of what to do, and probably somewhat unable.
She eventually had a surgery, and lived for many more months.
After the surgery, I visited her in hospital. They said it was very successful. I met her in hospital hall while she was walking, and she smiled and we walked together. I told her I was happy to see her. She seemed to be very spunky, up and about walking.
After, she seemed happy, relieved, but it was now difficult for her to get enough food, and to eat small portions all day. My sister Peggy helped when she visited from Canada, and Marie improved, but she still was somewhat on her own. Marie seemed to be fighting an uphill battle, and was visibly depressed when we were told, sometime in spring of 1998, I think, that cancer was back and spreading into her lungs. I could feel her pain, her fretting, her desire to live.
She soon went into hospice care, and Marie did seem happier there at first. Frank came and sat with her every day. I tried to visit every day, or most days, and visitors could come at will. I truly pictured that my mother would get better and return home. I still picture that. I don’t know what Marie pictured. But in those few weeks there, I was able to come and walk with her at night when the halls were empty. I felt that we were two friends, that I began to know her from the beginning, and I very much enjoyed our talks about things. How I enjoyed those moments. I could feel Marie as a strong spirit in a frail body. She was often apologetic, about all that everyone else had to do for her now, but I loved being able to assist and to be there.
Think about it -- after a lifetime of what she did for so many others, always buying things on sale for family members, sending notes, phone calls, now it was her turn to be attended to. I had no complaints. The days went by, and went by, and it was clear that her food was substandard, and that she was not as happy as she should be. Remarkably, I still believed Marie would be well, and would be healthy and vibrant, and in my mind, that IS the way she still is.
One day a few weeks later, Marie told me she wanted to go home, that Frank was looking into her going home and getting a 24 hour nurse. That made me happy, to think she would be back in her own home. But she became unresponsive a few days later, and I went to see her in the hospice care.
When I arrived, I put my hand on Marie’s head. She was hooked up to oxygen, and her eyes were fixed ahead. She was alive, but not responsive, though I felt she could hear me, and I talked to her. I cried for awhile, and closed my eyes. I tried to Feel-into this person, my mother, Marie. She was breathing with eyes straight ahead. After awhile I felt I was with Marie. My eyes closed, I began to see pictures, which I assumed were her pictures. Childhood -- seeing the front of her family farm house in Chardon, Ohio. I could sense that Marie was “waiting” -- maybe confused, waiting for us, her children, to come around and to say goodbye, that it is OK. I asked her how she was, and she “responded” “What now?” I tried to look at the pictures with her, tried to mentally look at her pictures with her, whatever it was that she wanted to see.
I saw my childhood, the Cub Scout activities at home, counting pennies and dimes, having tantrums on the kitchen floor, her work, her fears, her doubts, and the many interests and activities that she tried to pursue with me, such as learning Spanish, practicing karate, wild foods. I saw her focus on Virgin Mary and the League of Mary activities at the church, the desire to save the world by alerting people to change their lives.
This was her world I was seeing, and I sensed that she did well, in this world, and that she had what could be called a good life.
I was mostly silent with her, holding her hand, my other hand on her forehead, and I knew that she was just waiting now. All was over, and she wanted to go on. It seemed she was waiting because she thought we wanted to say our final goodbyes.
A priest came to give the Last Rites. I closed my eyes, with my hands on her. I am breathing deeply, and I felt my breath as a circuit through one hand, through Marie’s body, and out the other hand.
I could “see” a pulsating opening, the so-called tunnel that we have often heard about. It was right there, and she was ready. Marie was right at the tunnel, waiting, ready to go on, only waiting for us, to allow us to say goodbyes. So she is done with the world. There is only the body, which is now a distant pain, a body that no longer works. She is free She is very close to those of us who are here. She is accepting.
I told Marie, I’ll never forget you. You will be with me always. We are conversing now, silently, and I told her we could talk by sending pictures to one other’s mind.
In my mental communication, Marie is smiling. Her radiant smile is not the skin and bones lying on the bed. She is smiling. Marie, I tell her, I didn’t know it would be like this. She is ready for rest, ready for peace, ready for on-going. She said “please don’t worry for me. Why worry for me, she smiles. I am ready to go on. I am done.” She tells me though that she is concerned for Frank, and that we should watch over him.
I got a call about 3:45 or so, saying that Mother had stopped breathing. She had died. It was over. I dressed and quickly went over, and Jean Marie and Mary Sue were still there. I embraced mother and could see her body now noticeably faded. I embraced her and told her again I loved her, that I was glad the pain was over, that I would miss her always.
There was a feeling of great relief. Her friends Jean Marie and Mary Sue said they had just finished saying the rosary next to Marie and then she stopped breathing.