Is it possible that people know when they are going to die or even perhaps how they are going to die? This is a topic that is often hard for people to talk about, yet if we are truly honest with ourselves we usually can look back and start to see how it is possible that our loved ones knew or perhaps for some had a feeling that their time here on earth was coming to an end.
I’ll never forget my very first day working as a Certified Nursing Assistant in Hospice. My first day on the job a beautiful African American woman called me to her room. Her name was also Carla and her husband was by her bedside. Carla was trying to get her husband to go home as he had been by her side for days. He told me he was thinking about going home to shower and to do a few errands before returning. I reassured him I would look over his wife and take good care of her. Very shortly after he left, Carla called me to her room, she asked me to pull up a chair, sit with her, and hold her hand. The next thing I knew she had taken her last breath, very peacefully. I was so nervous, and felt terrible as her husband was not by her side. Yet, other nurses reassured me that Carla had planned it that way.
I can’t begin to tell you how many Hospice patients I watched take their last breath, some alone, and some with their loved ones by their side, yet each of them seeming to pick their own place and time. Whether they were waiting to hear from someone, being patient for a special date to pass, or simply needing for their loved ones to let them go, they died with dignity in their own time and always within a few days dying in three’s.
I remember a time when we had taken our girls to theScienceMuseumto visit the tour of the Titanic. At the beginning of the exhibit they gave each person the name of someone who was on the ship, and at the end of the exhibit you could see whether you lived or died from a display of the names. My daughter Bridget and I lived, yet my daughter Lindsey and my husband died. That evening, I wanted to talk to my husband about what if something happened to either one of us. He did not want to talk about it, and told me “I am going to die first, because I can’t imagine life without you, absolutely no more talking about this subject; I know I’ll die first.” Although, his answer really upset me, I knew he didn’t want me to bring the subject up again.
I took care of my father in his last days on hospice in my home. He took what I thought was his last breath just as my mom left the room to go to the bathroom. When she came out of the bathroom, I told her “Mom, dad just took his last breath.” As she came to the bed side, he reached out his hand, told my mom he loved her, she kissed him, and then he took his final breath.
I can clearly see how it’s possible that people have feelings of death being near. My eleven year old daughter Lindsey began asking questions about death. Five months earlier my sister gave birth to her third child, a beautiful little angel named Sara. Sara was stillborn. I remember all of us being at the hospital with my sister and her family. We held little Sara as we said hello and good bye to her. Lindsey began to question why this happened and where Sara was.
A few months after Sara died Lindsey began to have dreams that she had died. I reassured her that these were only dreams. Another couple of months passed and she began to have more and more dreams of dying. She told me she was not scared to die and each dream was very peaceful to her.
One evening Lindsey came into the kitchen with my husband and while he was making dinner and I was supervising with a glass of wine in hand. Lindsey said, “Mom, I had another dream last night that I died”, I lifted her up to sit on the counter and asked her to tell me every detail of the dream. I began to think Lindsey was trying to tell me something and maybe she was having some sort of premonitions. She looked me in the eye and said, “Mommy I don’t remember how I died, I only know that you killed me. It was a terrible accident, and you didn’t mean to, but don’t worry Mommy, daddy saved me.” She was laughing as she was sharing her dream with us, and of course my husband thought it was funny too, as he was the hero who saved his baby girl. I put it out of my head, because I knew for sure that there was no way I would ever have anything to do with my daughter’s death.
My husband and I decided at the end of July 2003 to plan a trip, something fun for the girls before they started back to school. We decided to take them toMagicMountainas we were a family that loved roller coasters! About a week before the trip, my husband began to reach out to friends and family, making contact and connections on the phone in the evenings after work. At first I thought it was odd because some of these people he had not talked to in years. Yet, I knew he had a realization about something. I remembered us having a conversation a month earlier about how precious life is.
A couple of days before I left to take time off for our trip, I said bye to some colleagues at work. At the time I worked at Mayo Clinic inScottsdale, as I went to say good-bye I had this feeling that I wasn’t coming back. It was a strange and very short feeling that I might not be coming back to work, at least for quite some time. As I drove home that evening, I kept hearing a little voice in my head saying, draw closer to God. As I talked with God on my way home, I didn’t know what that meant. As there was never a day that went by that I didn’t feel close to spirit. So, I talked out loud about how grateful I was for my family, my life and my friends. Was this another intuition or just silly thoughts?
A few days before our vacation, I told my husband, I didn’t think it was a good idea to take anyone else other than our girls. We had already given the girls permission to bring a friend with them on the trip. When my husband asked me why, I said I didn’t know why. He reminded me that we had already told the girls it was ok, and they both had already asked a friend to go with them.
The day of our road trip, I asked him several times if the tires were ok, he said “yes, the tires are fine – I had them checked, why are you so nervous and why do you keep asking me if the SUV is ready for the trip?” We just had it serviced, new brakes and tires checked.
We were having a great vacation, although I can’t tell you how many times I felt as though time was moving in slow motion. I was completely savoring every moment.
Our trip with the four girls was magical, filled with fun and lots of laughter. We felt like we were newlyweds all over again. Walking intoMagicMountainI realized I didn’t bring our camera, of course no one cared except me. When you enterMagicMountainthere are employee’s offering to take a special souvenir photo. No one wanted to take the photo except me and I insisted all of us smile for one photo to remember our vacation inCalifornia.
The day before coming home, I thought to myself, this is one of the best days of my life. The day began with my husband waking up the girls with doughnuts, something my little Lindsey loved! We had a great day atMagicMountain, a very full day and we ended up staying until midnight. I can remember wanting to go on one last roller coaster that we had not yet gone on. Unfortunately, it was a 2 to 3 hour wait, and no one wanted to wait that long with me. The girls decided to go on a coaster that got them soaking wet at the end of the ride and they went on it time and time again. While the girls went on the ride for what might have been the sixth time, my husband and were sitting close together while we waited for them. As we sat close together on the bench it felt like he was far away from me as he was looking up into the sky at the stars.
The next day on the trip home, the girls had fun. We laughed, sang, and of course stopped to eat and take bathroom breaks several times. Our very last stop was at a gas station. I had been driving, yet only for about an hour. We were about two hours away from home, when the girls needed another bathroom break and of course a Slurpee. We stopped to gas up one last time; my husband pumped the gas, while I went into the store with all the girls. When we came out, I handed my husband the keys and he said “You want me to drive?” and I said “No babe, that’s ok. I know you’re tired, so I’ll drive the rest of the way home.” As we got back on the road our two girls asked us to share silly stories about them as toddlers; we laughed and of course had plenty of stories to tell. Only moments had passed and suddenly the tire blew out and our Ford Expedition rolled several times killing everyone on the passenger side, life was full of joy, laughter, and happiness and in an instant everything was changed forever.
As days, months, and years passed, I began to think that it is possible that our loved ones do or perhaps have a deep feeling of when they will leave this world. As I have spoken with hundreds of families since my accident, each one of them seems to share a story of their loved ones living life to the fullest, reaching out to loved ones, or being at peace when they died.
Although, I do believe that each one of us has short whispers of a deep knowing or feeling that comes from within, sometimes, it doesn’t matter what that feeling is, maybe we don’t have control over everything and there is destiny and fate when it comes to death.
I would love to hear your story of your loved ones intuition. I know that often times these feelings can lead us to Survivor’s Guilt which I’ll be sharing with you in my next blog.
Until we meet again – From my heart to yours – Karla Kay