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Christine Tsen

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Last Goodbye
By Christine Tsen
Thursday, July 07, 2011

Rated "G" by the Author.

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This is a memoir of my final days with my mom. Please click on the title link below "Last Goodbye" for the song she sang to me.

Last Goodbye

She’s gone.  She has left to sing in other worlds.

I am lost, broken, and yet as sad as this has been, she gave me a great gift of parting.  I didn’t know what to make of it at the time, but somehow, she knew, and she left me with her songs and blessings.

She was at home in her living room when she called me in Boston.   There was a strong determination in her voice.

“You’ve been a wonderful daughter.  I just want you to know that,” she said.  Then she added,” And I love you.”

There was a knowing air of finality in her tone, a concluding remark on a long performance.  It took a moment for me to register what was happening, but as the full meaning of her call dawned on me, I gasped.

“What?  No, oh no!  You’re a wonderful mother,” I choked up, “I love you too.” 

“Well I’m glad to hear that, and now I have to go,” she said in her warm way.  “I’ll see you in my dreams.  Do you know that song?”  And she began to sing. 

Shaken, I told her I’d leave for home the next morning.  Shortly after this call, my brother Tim contacted 911 and an ambulance rushed my mother to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital the next day, she was in a coma.  My father and two of my brothers were by her side.  The doctor said she was briefly lucid in the morning but has been unconscious since and most likely would not wake up again. 

Devastated at being so late, I sank into the seat next to her bed and cried, cradling her hand in both of mine.  Tubes and beeping, blinking machines surrounded her.  A large mask, too large for her delicately wrinkled face, forced air into her lungs with insistent regularity.  By now I was sobbing, and I leaned over to kiss her cheeks, whispering to her, “Mama, mama, you’re the most wonderful mother in the world, my best friend!  It’s Chris, mama, please, please wake up!”

Her foot moved.  A tear trickled from the corner of one closed eye.  Eventually, she opened them.

 “It’s you,” she said smiling at me.  Her voice was weak, so much weaker than that strong, determined voice that she had yesterday.  “You who I’ve stayed here for these past five years,” she continued. ”You waited ‘til the end, didn’t you?  You’ve always been such a gift.”  And again, she drifted off.

Over the next day, her condition improved, and for a fleeting moment, I actually believed that she would recover fully.  But then her condition worsened inexplicably and she dropped into unconsciousness.  Arguments ensued about what to do, steps to take, how to respond.  In the end, it was Mom that decided:  She would be sent home from the hospital to die; that was her stated wish.  I never saw her open her eyes again.

They brought her home in an ambulance.  Her eyes were closed but she was able to respond with subtle nods and shakes of her head.  She was still on oxygen, but her breathing appeared more labored.  The hospice nurses gave us instructions in a very confusing and rushed way on how to administer the morphine under her tongue, how to make her as comfortable as is possible.

As she lay in her bed, I played for her hoping to relax her and hoping she would recognize some of her favorite songs (Amazing Grace, Chiquita Banana, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Gabriel’s Oboe, Arioso, Edelweiss), thinking as I touched down on each note that this was the most important concert I have ever played in my life.  What did any concert mean, truly, compared to this?  

I read old poems to her from the anthology she read to us children from in her young motherhood.  I tearfully recited the 23rd Psalm, Peter Pipers Rules, and told her who was in the room at any given time.  We all sang songs for her as her face changed expression and she nodded yes to more.  We took turns making sure she had someone with her all of the time.

Tim, one of my brothers, called us as he noticed her beginning to lose her breath.  We ran to her side from all corners of the house.  She looked so pale and her labored breathing had subsided.  We told her we loved her, saying our last good-byes.  My father held her hand, kissing her on her forehead, whispering to her, crying, begging her to take him too.  In my grief, I blurted out something about God and the light.

“Shh!” David whispered.  He was listening for her heartbeat.  Finally he stood up, head bowed, still holding her hand.  Tears rolled down his cheeks.  She’s gone.

I went outside and sank on the grass to cry.  I wanted to be near her flowers, those enormous alliums she has always loved, the earth.  From dust to dust, and I wanted to lie down in her garden where her hands had worked so much of their magic. 

Being the youngest of five and the only daughter, I honestly can’t say where our mother-daughter relationship left off and where our friendship began, but I can say we have always been close.  For as long as I can remember, we’ve talked on the phone every day.  We have confided in each other, celebrated our happiness, and cried together over life’s disappointments.  Over the years, she has wrapped an assemblage of protective layers around me of her mother’s love.   She has moved into a new world now but has left me great gifts of which the most important and protective is that oldest ancient magic :  Mother’s love.

(c) Christine Tsen 2011



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Reviewed by Ken Colonsay 7/17/2015
very traumatic day, Christine, but your faith shines through. Your mother would be proud of the way you've developed your artistic gifts.
Reviewed by Diana Legun 1/16/2013
Christine, I am happy to have found this of yours today. So tenderly written and I feel every honesty you placed in here. The line that got me most was: ".....this was the most important concert I have ever played in my life." That is huge. My father passed along in 1998, much like you mother in that he was n a coma by the time I arrived and never regained consciousness, but like you, I stayed to the end, spoke and sang and believed that the hearing is the sense we hold on to the longest on our way out the Earth door. Now my mother is fading rapidly....good for me to read your relationship of the oldest ancient magic and medicine....a Mother's love. Thank you for writing this. ~~ Diana
Reviewed by Mary Grace Patterson 10/22/2012
This brought tears to my eyes and i could truely see and feel all that happened. There is such a special bond between a mother and daughter. I had that with my mother who died in 2002 at age 93 and I am so blessed to have that same bond with my own daughter , Deborah. I have 5 sons. I was lucky to gain to step dtrs via marriage , but I am not as close to them as my own daughter. Your sharing of your moms death must have been hard to write , but I think perhaos it might have brought some release from the pain you felt.. Time does help . I pray your dad is is ok. Rest assured she lives on in Gods kingdom and through all her children and grandchildren Blessings to you and your family....Mary grace
Reviewed by JMS Bell 6/17/2012
Reviewed by Valerie Caramella 5/30/2012
Last Goodbye is a beautiful memoir. Wonderfully written with out of this world love and honor for your mother. Thank you, Christine for sharing this story. I too lost my mother and wrote a book about her life. Our mother's loving memories are in the pages of our minds and sadly missed in our hearts. God Bless, ~ Valerie ~
Reviewed by Amor Sabor 3/8/2012
What a beautiful relationship you shared with your mom...being best friends is a blessing as well and those things you remember with such fondness will never die. True love is proven when one parent leaves us then soon thereafter, the other half follows. I had no choice, as a pianist, to fall into the song as it played with my piano nearby. A beautiful number that brought so many nostalgic memories of my youthful days. Know that you were loved and were a gift to her as well as to so many others.
Love, Amor
Reviewed by Regis Auffray 1/25/2012
Truly touching and soul-awakening; and a lovely and loving tribute, Christine. Thank you for sharing so deeply. Love, peace, and best wishes to you,

Reviewed by Janna Hill 8/31/2011
Oh Dear Christine please be comforted by such lovely memories of a fabulous mother/friend.
Reviewed by Jon Willey 8/15/2011
Christine, this is a moving story of your relationship with your mother and her final days. I am very sorry for your loss. I just attended a funeral for a young woman I dearly loved, like a another daughter. She was only forty-eight years old and had battled cancer for the past five years. Between that event and this news of the loss of your mother, my emotions have overcome me. I bid you love, peace, understanding and joy my dear friend. Jon Michael
Reviewed by Chessly Nesci 8/3/2011
Oh Christine I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your last moments with us. I lost my father recently and know how painful it is. I wished I could have said goodbye..Your mom will always be with you now and forever, and she is looking down and so proud of you! Big hugs, Chessly
Reviewed by Ronald Hull 7/22/2011
What a lovely memory you have shared here. I love my mother very much and will miss her greatly when she goes, but I don't think I could write something as wonderful as you have written.

Reviewed by Chip Bergeron 7/11/2011
Christine...thank you for the gift of your story. your mother was certainly a wonderful lady and you will have such wonderful memories. I think you were also fortunate to have the time and place to say goodbye. I know you wish you hadn't had to, but that last goodbyeis inevitable to us poor humans.

Chip Bergeron
Reviewed by H. Lena Jones 7/11/2011
Dear Christine! I cried and cried as I read through this account of the last moments of your Mom's life, for they so reminded me of my Mom's--the tear drop from one corner of the eye is still painful for me. The pain of loss, especially when it concerns a mother, can never be eased. May you and family find much comfort in the arms of Jesus, in whom we have the blessed assurance of a happy reunion in Heaven with our loved ones.

Love and Hugs,
Reviewed by Frank Stein 7/10/2011
This brought me to tears too, Indi. I could only hope for such a wonderful send off in my last moments, with the music of heaven being played and the people who love me speaking straight from the heart. My parents are in their 80's now and I hope I am strong enough to be as strong for them one day. You are certainly loved as well...

Reviewed by Patrick Granfors 7/9/2011
You bring me to tears Christine, such a gift indeed. To be able to say goodbye and have it heard is priceless. I was a day too late to the hospital for my dad. He never regained consciousness. I can only believe he heard my words and felt my presence. Patrick
Reviewed by Gene Williamson 7/9/2011
Christine, a beautiful love story you have shared with us. Thank you. -gene.
Reviewed by J Howard 7/9/2011
far reaching words well said. the relationship every daughter dreams of even at the end. you will see her ...again... in her dreams, as she so sweetly says. yes..this i do believe. thanks for sharing your beautiful work.
Reviewed by Peter Schlosser 7/8/2011
my god christine, this is so moving and so beautiful....waterfalls, that's all i can say. i'm so sorry for your loss; i'm glad you could be there with her at the'll meet again, i'm sure, she'll have meatloaf waiting for you, assemblage of the world's greatest musicians all gathered for one giant musical ensemble somewhere in the of the spheres and things, after all, are eternal!! gorgeous writing.
Reviewed by Christine Alwin 7/8/2011
Your Mama gave you life the most precious gift imaginable, but to nurture that life and be the best Mom and friend is frosting of the sweetest song in your heart that you will listen to over and over again, you will hear her voice and play out memories in your fortunate for this gift. I hold you and your family in my thoughts and prayers~
Reviewed by Annabel Sheila 7/8/2011
Aw! This is a beautiful story, Christine! I certainly understand your feelings....not a day goes by that I don't think about my Mom who passed away Feb. 7/ 2007.....she'll always be with you....

Reviewed by Jerry Bolton 7/8/2011
This touche me, Christine. I'm hurting too back to sit here and write much, but, the craziest thing. I read this story from the bottome up. Started at the ending and worked my way up. I've done that before, and don;t know why.

Very impressive, heart-warming piece of your heart.
Reviewed by John Domino 7/8/2011
Dear Christine,

Hold on to these words: “You’ve been a wonderful daughter. I just want you to know that,” she said. Then she added,” And I love you.” “You who I’ve stayed here for these past five years,” she continued. ”You waited ‘til the end, didn’t you? You’ve always been such a gift.”

Hold on to the words of these songs: Amazing Grace, Chiquita Banana, Chattanooga Choo Choo, Gabriel’s Oboe, Arioso, Edelweiss. Listen to them and you will feel comfort knowing that they are Mom's favorites.

I still listen to my Dads favorite songs. My mom and dad were singers. My dad was a singing waiter. He and my mom would listen to ablums like "My Fair Lady." and sing and dance right in our living room. Make no mistake, I did not have a childhood made in heaven but I not treasure those moments and I love those songs so much. Yes, Amazing Grace is among my Mom's favorites. I treasure each word and feel close to her when I hear it no matter who sings it and even if it's out of tune. Also make no mistake ablout it - this will not be the last good-bye. You will have moments to treasure your mothers love for you forever.

Peace be with you, Love and Blessings to you and your family,

John Michael Domino
Reviewed by Morgan Merriweather 7/7/2011
Your memoir is beautiful. Peace to you and your family. ~Morgan
Reviewed by Mark Lichterman 7/7/2011
Christine, what a wonderful memoir. Truthfully, so you know, this accounting did move me to tears and though so sad to read, in one sense the beauty and love that you and your mother brought to each others lives moved me also.
So sorry.
Your friend; Mark
Reviewed by Lonnie Hicks 7/7/2011
Just an incredibly moving situation. Thanks so much for sharing that beautiful emotional and loving nature you have and that of your family and your mother.
All of it made me tear up.
Any one who reads it will share that feeling of loss for your entire family.
My best.
Reviewed by Vivian Dawson 7/7/2011
Oh! Christine, I got so wrapped up in your powerful
story, I wept for your loss, but I know she lives
within you, shining ever so brightly...Thank You for
sharing your rays of light for a Mother's sweet love

Lady Vivian
Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 7/7/2011
I am so sorry for your loss; your story is told in vivid, compelling lines. I know; I've been there, but unlike you, I didn't get to say goodbye to my mom until the funeral and then the burial. Powerfully penned; well done!

(((HUGS))), much love, and prayers~

Your friend in Texas, Karen Lynn. :( +Tears!+

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