I lost my mom on Dec. 1, 2017 from a long battle with COPD - she was a chain smoker and refused to quit. She was a widow and insisted on living by herself, which was almost an hour away from me. She refused adamantly to come stay with me or go to a nursing home, even though she was in hospice care and couldn't do anything for herself. At the time, I was working about 60 hours a week, with 6 kids and going through a divorce. I didn't even have a vehicle; my daughter drove me to work. I know mom thought I was just making up excuses to not come, but I honestly COULD NOT. I am also an only child, and my dad and mom were divorced, so I had NO ONE to help me, or even to talk to. Mom was very independent and VERY stubborn, and one day she decided to take herself for a drive. I have no idea how she even got to the car. I got a call from the sheriff that she had gotten lost and was at a gas station and didn't know where she was. I went and got her, but she INSISTED on going back to her house. The sheriff's deputy said I couldn't "make" her go, and legally couldn't even take her car keys, so I put them where she couldnt find them. My great aunt went to check on her a few days later, and convinced her to "come stay a few days" with her. The great aunt called me the next day to come get her because she couldn't take care of all her needs. I went and picked her up; she wasn't very coherent but didn't struggle. Well, she COULDN'T struggle because I carried her and put her in the car. The sweet hospice worker found her a spot at a very nice nursing home only 5 minutes from my house, and my daughter went there before we got there and "decorated" her room with a pretty bedspread, fresh flowers, and a whole wall of her favorite photos. On the way there, I stopped at a park, and I had to tell mom where we were going. She was crying so pitifully, I still remember it; I told her I would see her every morning, every lunch hour, every evening, and any time in between, and if she needed me, I was only 5 minutes away. She stopped talking to me. Mom didn't have a living will or power of attorney, and insisted on being "full code," which meant medical personnel had to use any and all means possible to resuscitate her if something happened. I got her checked in and tucked in for the night and was there at 7 am the next morning on my way to work. She grabbed my arm and said "Please don't go! Don't leave me here!" and was crying. I told her I had to go in to work for a few hours but I would be back as soon as I had my lunch break. I left her there alone and crying, and as soon as I left the room, I was crying too. I went to work, and a few hours later, the nursing home called, you could hear there was frantic chaos in the background. They said mom's chart said she was "full code" and wanted to make sure that was right, because she stopped breathing. I had to tell them yes. They told me an ambulance was en route to take her to the hospital. I remember practically COLLAPSING in my office - mom was dying and I didn't even have a car!! A co worker friend graciously drove me to the nursing home, where they were loading mom into an ambulance. I told her "I'm here, mom, I'm right here, and we're taking you to the hospital." She grabbed my hand and said, "Hurry." That would be the last thing she would ever say to me. The ambulance ride seemed to take FOREVER. We got there, I was right there with the EMTs, there was a lot of activity, a frenzy of doctors and nurses and lab people, and they all seemed to be talking at once. No one could believe she had chosen to be full code. She was still able to nod her head "yes" to confirm every procedure. When all else failed, the last option was to put her on a ventilator. The doctor made it VERY CLEAR to her that she would never come off the ventilator, and also that it would hurt. She gave her the option that they could give her pain medication that would let her just peacefully and painlessly drift off to sleep. But Mom still insisted. The doctor told me to wait outside because this "isn't something (I would) like to see." I squeezed mom's tiny hand and said, "I'll be right outside the door. I love you. Please don't be scared." I didn't think I realized that was the last thing I would ever say to her, or I would have said something a little more profound than "Please don't be scared." My daughter was at the hospital by this time, and we waited outside the room. The doctor came out a few moments later and told me before she could insert the ventilator, mom stopped breathing, and they had to do CPR. She was very straightforward and honest, which I appreciated, and told me all of her ribs had broken (she only weighed 30 pounds). I asked the doctor if NOW I could decide what to do, and she finally said yes. I told her, "Just leave her ALONE! This is RIDICULOUS!" She fully understood, and had them stop CPR. And just like that, mom was gone. She died in a stark white bright hospital e.r. trauma room surrounded by strangers. And I was right OUTSIDE. I should have quit my job or taken FMLA and moved in with her to care for her. I should never have put her in a nursing home, the last place she ever wanted to be. She ALWAYS was very vocal about how she felt nursing homes were where you "throw away old people to die." I should have been in that room, holding her hand, when she took her last breath, telling her over and over how much I love her and how sorry I was for not taking care of her. I read back over our texts, and I see HOW MANY, MANY times she asked me to come see her, followed by my excuses not to. At the time, they seemed like valid reasons - work, no car, etc. - but now I feel like those were EXCUSES and not REASONS, that I should have put everything else on hold and taken care of the woman who gave me life. Lately, I keep reliving all of the above. It's like my brain is stuck on it, like a scratch on a vinyl recoed that just keeps repeating itself instead of continuing the song. It's like it's every other thought I have, if not more. Everything and nothing makes me cry. I just want ONE. MORE. DAY. Or even one more hour. Just to go back so I could be with her, holding her hand, and saying "I love you" as her soul left this world. Even though there are no words for how much I miss my mom and always will, the GUILT that has wrapped itself around me is strangling. It's like, I can't go back, and I can't move forward. Like I'm a silver pawn that's stuck in the Monopoly jail, watching everyone else moving and collecting their salary and paying their taxes and LIVING.