Slipping Away

The nurse said that she had never seen a more peaceful passing in her whole career, nor had she ever seen such a beautiful expression left on someone’s face.

Ngaire’s last day here was an eternity in itself. Her exhausted, depleted body had nothing left with which to fight on Thursday afternoon, and she begged to be sedated and intubated, in the hope that when she awoke, she would have new lungs.

The lungs didn’t arrive soon enough as the exhaustion took its toll on Ngaire’s ability to keep going. The oxygen was on maximum as her heart struggled to pump its vital payload around her tiny, depleted body. Doctors had a balancing act to perform: sedation – which lowered her already low blood pressure, adrenaline – to help increase blood pressure to satisfactory levels, and, of course, oxygen.

At 3.00 a.m. on Friday, the doctor informed me that her heart wasn’t able to  do the job; as hard as it was working, her kidneys hadn’t produced anything in nearly twelve hours. He said that even if lungs arrived at that moment, she would be too sick to survive the transplant. Slowly, her other body systems were succumbing to the final throes of the battle that she had fought so bravely and hopefully for so many years. She was now, in effect, on life support.

Then began the process of calling dear friends and family, to tell them that our precious one was slipping away. Some came immediately, others when they could; some travelled many hundreds of kilometres to say their farewells. My dear boys and I sat in the hospital cafe, bewildered that we were losing the one who had had the complete attention of our hearts for so long. We united and went to her room together to tell her that we would stand with each other, would be there and support each other for the rest of our lives – that she would not have to worry, because we would honour her love for each of us in how we lived for each other in the days ahead.

There were many visitors, many tears and much love throughout the course of that day. Whether or not she heard us, we don’t know for sure; we do know that she seemed to grow more peaceful as the time slipped by.

She had told us that if she was on life support and there was no hope, that she wanted to be let go, so that she would not be a burden to those left behind. At this point, after years of hope, all that was keeping her body going were drugs.

Shortly before 11.00 p.m., after the last of us had said our final words and we had committed her into God’s hands, they gradually reduced the adrenaline that was keeping her heart going. Slowly, peacefully, she cast off her mooring line to this planet and slipped gracefully into eternity.

A week later, hundreds gathered to confirm, over and over, what I already knew: that she was totally unique, a woman of priceless quality, utmost integrity and overpowering honesty. Thousands of messages from around the world echoed the impact that she had had on so many lives.

Ngaire Susan, the richness of your short life is beyond compare as, no doubt, is the honour that you have received on your arrival:

“Well done good and faithful servant. Well done honest, loyal and compassionate friend; well done sacrificial, loving and thoughtful mother; well done beautiful, bubbly, warm-hearted soul-mate; well done Queen of my Heart. Well done.”

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12 thoughts on “Slipping Away

  1. Your words will always be a point break for my heart, dad. She chose well in you, twice, and I will always be grateful she did. We will stand together and leave a legacy others will aspire to. Like a prism we will reflect love back and forth between the four of us and watch the colors shine. I love you x

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  2. Beautifully said, our dear Matt.
    She loved you all so much & was so proud of you all.
    God bless you & your beautiful boys. Keep tight.
    Love & prayers, Lenette & Steve

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  3. Dearest Matt,
    You honour her and all of us with your honesty and insight and vulnerability. The same God birthed and enriched creative lifeblood that filled Ngaire’s extraordinary life suffuses yours and your beautiful boys. Her handprints are all over us all. God is using her journey to speak to me and challenge me more now than ever before. She has left an enormous legacy. My love rests with you.

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