When our mum died last Friday morning, my brother and I were present. I held her hand and we talked to her as her breathing slowed, slowed until it stopped completely.
I was glad that we were there at the end. But I don't know if she was aware of us.
She was probably aware of our presence the night before, after the doctor had given her something to calm her down, after she urged us to come to the rest home because this might be our last chance to see mum alive.
When we saw her that night mum was snoring loudly, sleeping deeply. Probably, it was the best sleep she'd had in weeks if not months. There was a moment when she was semi-awake and made us think she wanted to get up and go to the loo. Then we realised mum was still asleep, so we and the nurse and the carer lay her back down on her bed.
That was probably the time to talk to mum, when she was still not so deeply asleep that I couldn't be sure she was still with us.
The next morning we returned to the bedside and mum was no longer snoring, just breathing. I worry now that she was already gone by then and we were just watching her body go through the motions until it couldn't any more. By then it is too late to hold hands and say comforting things, isn't it?