My mother passed away yesterday, 24th of April, at 5.56pm.
On the afternoon of the 23rd of April, she suffered an aneurysm as an abnormal blood vessel in her brain burst. Her heart stopped immediately, and she stopped breathing. My father tried desperately to keep her alive until the ambulance arrived, as I listened desperately on the other end of the phone, helpless in another state.
The paramedics worked on her for twenty minutes until they could bring a heart beat back. Her heart stopped two more times on the way to the Intensive Care Unit at Monash Medical Centre. Doctors there kept her on life support, as they ran test after test, scan after scan, to try and find a way to bring her back.
I got back to Melbourne four hours after I first received that panicked phone call from my father. I got back in time to walk directly into the first meeting with the doctors – the kind of meeting where they gather the family in a private interview room to give them bad news. In this case, that they didn’t think she would make it to morning.
That night was the worst of my life.
She made it to the morning, though the nurses on duty had to continue increasing the various dosages of medications they were giving her, to keep her blood pressure and levels stable. The doctors then performed tests in the morning, and sat us down again, for another meeting at 12pm, this time with a social worker and interpreter in the room for my father. They told us that they believed that her brain had died. That she was clinically dead.
Pending a final test in the afternoon to confirm their suspicions, we were told that the only option would be to turn off all life support. They advised us to spend the next few hours with her, saying what we had to say. They advised us to contact any other family or friends, who may want to say their last goodbyes.
At 5.30pm that day, the doctor sat us in a room and told us what I already knew. The final test did not have a positive result. We had half an hour left with my mother. We stayed in the room as they turned off her life support.
I’ve tried to keep emotions out of my account above. How do you even describe how you feel when you see your father sobbing, because this year would have been their thirtieth wedding anniversary, and they had met as teenagers? I need to be the strong one in this family, and the one who makes all the arrangements, and sees everything through. My father doesn’t speak English well, and my brother is still a teenager.
In time, once I’ve had the time to process, I may write more. For now, this is all I can write without breaking down.
For those people who know me and my family, I know you may want to do something.
We have made arrangements for my mother’s ashes to be kept at the Bright Moon Buddhist Temple, located on Springvale Road. They are still in the process of building the temple, funded by donations from the community. To help take my mother to her final resting place faster, please donate to them if you are able to, to ensure that the memorial hall is built faster. Their contact details can be seen on their website, and they will receive cheques (possibly credit card donations over the phone).
If you would prefer to remember my mother in another way, we are currently making plans for the memorial service. It will be held at least a week and a half today (possibly two weeks), as we are waiting for some overseas family members to obtain visas to come over to pay their last respects. Once details have been finalised, I will update this with an address to send floral tributes to.
Thank you to all those who have supported my father, my brother, and I over the past few days with messages of love. Your kindness and well wishes are very much appreciated.
Update 29/4/13: My mother’s memorial service will be held at 2.15pm in the Renowden Chapel at Springvale Botanical Cemetery, on Saturday 4 May. Please send any floral tributes to the cemetery, for “Ling Ah Yue”.