This question was placed by a friend this past week. “How do you know when the time has come to let go?” “When do you know it’s the end for your child?”
The answer is “you will know”.
Questions of that sort haunted me many times. It haunted me at night. It haunted me on runs around the hospital. It haunted me in the car to and from the hospital. It haunted me in the shower. It haunted me when you were really sick, and the conversation had turned into quality of life considerations. The questions drove me insane. They made me mad. They made me sad. They made me doubt my judgment at times.
The reason we fought side by side with you for so long is that we saw your fight and love for life. Most importantly, we loved you so very much. We wanted you in our lives. Life without you was hard to even grasp or starting to imagine. It was just a black hole without path or life line. So, we took your lead, hoping we made the right decision at each corner. Making sure regrets weren’t part of the vocabulary.
Sometimes I shouted the question to your dad, and none of us thought we would ever know the answer. How can you know as a mom, as a dad? Dr. E. gave me the answer I needed: “you will know”.
She was right as so many other times. In the last month of your life, I knew. I knew we were nearing the end. I saw the signs. I saw how hard life had become for you. There were not as many good days anymore. There were days of very scary moments. Things we experienced, you don’t wish on any child or parent.
As much as it hurts, I am to this day grateful you made your own decision. You decided when your time had come to let go. As a mom, I didn’t have to make the impossible decision of letting you go. That is the one decision, I think you knew I couldn’t make.
As I was eating breakfast in a hotel in Cambridge this past week, I was able to tell my friend the wise words of Dr. E: “you will know”. It doesn’t make it easier or remove the pain, but it gives you the power to trust your instinct as a mom and as a dad. It might even give you a little peace or comfort in the middle of absolute chaos.
As I am finding a path without you, I try to remember and live as we did together. Some days are easier than others. Sometimes I fall into the trap of caring about the small stuff. The things you and I just didn’t have room for. And as I am once again entering new territory, I try to remember the wise words. I will know.
Sweet Jacob, I love you to the moon and back,