saying goodbye + last breaths

Yesterday morning my mom took her last breath. Sandra Jane Ostwald {June 27th 1956 – February 18th 2014}. Her battle with cancer lasted a little over a year, and she fought with more grace and strength that I knew was humanly possible. Her last couple of weeks she told us often that she was comfortable and at peace, and she spent this time assuring us that she was ok.

My heart has never been this heavy, for myself and for those she loved so very much. However, through all of this, we have been given a gift. We were able to say everything we wanted to each other, take time for acceptance and make every moment important. We let the little things go and focussed on what really mattered to us.

A few days ago, I took Oliver to say goodbye. However, we didn’t say goodbye. Instead, he sang twinkle twinkle little star to Baba, he hugged her and kissed her and told her how much he loved her. She was resting but had a smile on her face the whole time.

In the last week, I’ve spent most of my time at the hospital holding my mom’s hand and watching her breath. Each day, slower and more shallow. Thinking about how she must have watched me sleep as a baby.

Not once did I say goodbye.

Late in the night before she passed away I had asked her nurse if it was possible to have a doppler available so my mom might be able to hear baby’s heart beat one last time. Within 5 minutes a maternity nurse came in and even though my mom couldn’t respond, I knew she heard that strong baby boy heartbeat. I cannot thank that nurse enough for that gift.

That was just one small moment to be thankful for. It is hard to thank all of the people who had a hand in offering support and love during this entire journey, especially in the last couple weeks. From family and friends, to the incredible home care, doctors and nursing staff. My heart is lifted by everyone’s kindness. Big love to those who sat with me, held me, comforted me, brought me tea.

I cannot thank my Auntie Ruth enough for not only capturing these images (the only time I thought to bring my camera), but for all of those middle of the night hours together at the hospital. The family who came and made sure that there was always somebody by her side so that Opa and I could rest.

There is so much that I want to write, about my mom and everything that she meant to me. But this is all so new, and I just wanted those who cared about her to know how peaceful and comfortable she was and that she was truly surrounded by love up until her last breath.

And now to figure out what our new normal is without someone who was such a huge part of our daily lives.


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February 27, 2014 - 3:58 pm

Kristi - Nycky… heart goes out to you…thank you for sharing this you lots..xoxo

February 23, 2014 - 4:44 pm

Greg Ferris - Nicky
I was so sorry to hear of your mom’s passing. The news came to me through one of your moms high school classmates. I am also one. She was one of three grade one students that started our school together here at Fielding Sask. I had the good fortune of having her as a classmate for all 12 years of public school when we graduated grade 12 in Maymont Sask. She was a very caring lady who always seemed to take the time to make contact back here when support was needed. I will never forget her at a time when we lost a child of ours at a very young age. Your mom attended the funeral and latter at lunch she gave my wife and I a book on how to help children with the loss of the sibling. We had a three year old son as well at the time. Such a caring heart. She will be remembered with many fond memories by myself and those who spent time together back here in Saskatchewan. I hope the messages from your friends and family can help comfort you and your family in some small way. Take care.

February 21, 2014 - 5:42 pm

Ruth (Bare) Bruce - Nicky

So very sorry to hear about her mother’s passing. What a loss to you and the family. My sincere condolences to you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. May you treasure the happy memories and may they bring comfort to you in this so sad time. Your mother had so much energy and vitality. I am a cousin to your mother, your uncles Ron and Bill. I remember you as a little girl about the same age as my son, Grant. Love and hugs from Ruth. What a beautiful tribute and pictures of your Mom.

February 20, 2014 - 11:23 pm

Michelle Newell - Oh Nycky-jay, hugs to you my friend. Praying that God continues to comfort you through this time of grief and mourning over the loss of your mother. I am so glad that you were able to have such precious moments with her before her passing. Much love to you and your family! ~ Michelle

February 20, 2014 - 7:34 pm

Melanie Benn - What a beautiful story NJ. Life is all things, it is both living and dieing, giving life and living it, loving and being loved. I am so happy that your mom’s passing was filled with love and calm and so happy that your heart, though heavy is full with love and comfort. You are a special kind of story teller and I thank you for sharing your story with all of us. You and your beautiful family will be in my thoughts and I am wishing you strength as you move along your life journey <3 xoxo

February 20, 2014 - 6:59 pm

Alisha - She’s so beautiful…

February 20, 2014 - 4:36 pm

Delane Stockman - I am so incredibly sorry to hear about your mother’s passing. You all handled this with grace. Just know that she is now the first to meet your newborn son and is already filling him in on what a great, loving family he is about to join. Sending much love your way.

February 20, 2014 - 10:35 am

John Waire - RIP Baba.

February 20, 2014 - 8:13 am

Sandra Demeria Brossart - Much love and prayers coming your way, wishing I had come to Vancouver island to see you and your mom. You do know that she was always happy when you were. And having Oliver nearby made her happiest of all. I will miss her & loved her like a sister, Sending strength to you, love Aunt Sandy

February 20, 2014 - 6:40 am

Mark Derry - May you be consoled in your grief and may angles watch over you and your family.

February 20, 2014 - 6:33 am

Eliot Richter - Nycky Jay,
I’m very sorry for your loss. So glad you were able to see your mom off well. My thoughts and preyers are with you and your family.

February 20, 2014 - 6:11 am

Claire Vardy - Dear Nycky-Jay,
Love your way and wishes that, in time, memories of your precious mom will lighten your heart. Thank you for sharing this story and photos.

February 20, 2014 - 5:27 am

Kate - My friend, my heart, though breaking for you, sends strength and love. What a beautiful tribute.

February 20, 2014 - 3:21 am

Cristin Sawchuk - My sweet friend…all of my love to you. I am so sad for you and so, so sorry for the loss of your beautiful mom.

February 20, 2014 - 2:46 am

Linda Schmidt - NJ.
I am so so sorry for you and your families loss. I never knew your mom but I’m sure she was an amazing woman to have such an amazing family. From my family to yours…love, prayers and hugs.

February 20, 2014 - 2:13 am

Erinn - Oh, Nycky-jay. I am so sorry for your loss, but your courage and strength astound me. You are such a beautiful person and I know if your mother is anything like you, then she was just as lovely.
I am sending you all my happy thoughts during this time and hope you always remember the good, rather than the sickness. I know thats what I do when I think of my grandfather who also was taken too soon to cancer.
It goes without saying that if you need anything…..

February 20, 2014 - 12:40 am

Carol-Ann - You can shed a tear that she is gone
or you can smile because she lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she’ll come back
or you can open your eyes and see all she’s left.
Your heart can be empty because you can’t see her
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and love yesterday
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she’s gone
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind, be empty, and turn your back
or you can do what she’d want:
Smile, open your eyes, love, and go on.
Love you Sandra and will miss you. Carol-Ann (aka C.A.)

February 20, 2014 - 12:31 am

Angel Murphy - It is a very special thing to have watched you and your family navigate through your mom’s illness and passing. From the first moment you recieved the news of cancer, you chose to make your time together one of intention, celebration, and reflection. With that outlook, not a second is wasted and you foster acceptance and grace. What strength you both shared and what lessons you have passed on to Oliver about love and cherishing. He is blessed to grow up amongst such women. All our love to you and your family. xoxo

February 19, 2014 - 11:53 pm

Alicia McMahen - That was so nice of you to write that for everyone to hear about how comfortable she was. It brought tears to my eyes. Everyone is thinking about you. Love you so much.

February 19, 2014 - 11:29 pm

Sara - NJ,

Your words completely brought me to tears! I’m so happy to know that you spent as much time together as possible & shared every word/thought/emotion with each other. You’re an incredible woman as was your mother!
Much love & hugs to you & yours!!!!!

February 19, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Kim Spears - Oh Nycky, my heart is so heavy for your family. I am so incredibly sorry for your loss. I can’t even imagine the heartbreak. Big hugs to you and yours.

February 19, 2014 - 9:32 pm

Tiffany McFadden - Such powerful moments, words and images. I am sorry for your loss but know you will find your new normal.

February 19, 2014 - 8:53 pm

Brenda - Thank you Nycky! I needed to see that and read that.

February 19, 2014 - 8:47 pm

Alisha - RIP to a wonderful landlord and incredible friend, Sandra your kindness, wonderful sense humor and love will never be forgotten. You had a heart of pure gold. I enjoyed the time we spent getting to know each other. We share a lot of interest, and views on life. And I feel bless that I had the chance to meet you and have you a part of our lives. The memory of your beautiful soul will forever be in our hearts. xoxo Love Always Alisha, Rick, Claire, Cali, and Mackenzie.

February 19, 2014 - 8:30 pm

Elizabeth Marr - Nicky jay I feel your love and your pain. You wrote so beautifully. Prayers and hugs to you and your family.

February 19, 2014 - 8:13 pm

jennifer armstrong - nycky-jay, thank you. Thank you for your courage, your honesty, your willingness to share. Thank you for the gifts of these precious photos, of your dear mother & her strength & grace. You are deeply loved. And baba will be deeply missed. Heartfelt love to you all. xoxo

February 19, 2014 - 8:07 pm

Petara - I don’t know what to say – I am in tears. I am so sorry for your loss…I pray for God’s comfort as you mourn what has been and what would have been. I hurt for you. These are beautiful images that I’m sure you will always treasure. Your mom’s beauty radiates, as does the love between you all. I am so sorry Nycky.

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