hi there! i'm michelle, southern california based photographer and curator of the coco gallery.

welcome to my blog where i share my life, my latest adventures, photo projects, random nuggets and the occasional stray thoughts.

for clients: to view my portfolio just click on this link - theCOCOgallery.com. to book sessions please send me a message through theCOCOgallery.com or contact me via michelle@thecocogallery.com | 949.734.0604

Thursday, December 11, 2008

her last breath ... i was there

4th of july 2006, i walked into the room, heard the raspy breathing and i knew... this was it.  my mom was drawing her last breath.  i could have called out for help, but i chose not to.  it was time.  i was eerily calm.  i took her hand, looked into her eyes and told her it was ok for her to go.  i think she was waiting for me.  she silently told me she loved me and i gave her a kiss good bye ... that's when the tears started to roll.  a few minutes later she was gone.  i must have sat there for a couple-three hours before i told anyone that the ordeal was finally over.

i was 25 when i first lost my mom.  she had gone in for elective surgery.  a tummy tuck of all things.  anyone who knew my mom would be wondering what the hell for?  she was tiny.  she was gorgeous.  i'm not being biased... you can ask anyone.  there really was no need for enhancements.  but everyone has their vanities and her tummy was her weakness.  the surgery itself was quite successful.  the doctor did a great job,  disaster struck when the nurse made a mistake on the dosage for the pain meds post surgery.  that was the day my mom really died.

what happened after that was a chaotic whirlwind of medical guesses in the grayest of areas.  brain damage.  the doctors were able to revive my mom but the extent of the damage was costly.  she was bed ridden with large chunks of her memory missing, atrophied muscles and paralysis.  the results of a 2 week coma.  it was a rollercoaster of emotions for all of us.  eight years and she never recovered. 

life has a funny way of testing your strength.  we've had our share of loss and tragedy in our family, the most recent being my grandmother.  she had a stroke a couple of years ago and hasn't been the same since.  ah but my she's strong and so she hangs on.  i think being at home surrounded by people that love her and care for her makes a huge difference.  i've been living at her house these last few weeks, right next door to a house full of memories.  the house i grew up in.  the combination pulls a powerful punch in my gut.  just when i think i'm immune to it all in a blink melt into a puddle.  the emotions have a nasty habit of sneaking up in the middle of the night.  it's in the quiet time.  always in the silence.

life is so short but love is the tie that binds.  our family remains strong because we have each other.  i truly truly believe that everything happens for a reason.  i regret nothing.  there are no mistakes... just decisions made.  sometimes the world has to collapse for a better one to grow in its place.  

keep the faith, live simply, love a lot.  throw out the idea of christmas gifts this year... instead, cherish the memories, surround yourselves with friends and family and share the laughter over a christmas meal.  these are the things that last forever... these are the twinkling lights in the darkness.

my grandmother started a christmas tradition when she married my grandfather.  she started a belen (nativity scene).  she added pieces to it every year.  all the kids and grandkids have contributed to it since.  the thing is huge now consisting of towns and a variety of generations.  my aunt keeps the tradition alive for us.  i thought i'd commit some of the scenes on "film".


  1. Thank you for sharing, the good and the bad. It reminds me of just how similair we all are in our vulnerabilities and our simple joys.


  2. Thank-you for sharing that. For so many reasons.

  3. Thank you for sharing that. I am in awe of your story and your courage :)
    I try and cherish my loved ones everyday.

  4. you're going to have to post an overview shot of how huge that thing is now...

  5. M~ I love you! I love how you are willing to share the tragedies and pain and how they have grown you to the beautiful person you are today!

  6. That is beautiful! Had to stop by and check you out, I will be sure to check back often! Happy Holidays!

  7. thanks guys. hanssie i think that's the thing that took me a while to realize. i am me because of ALL i've been thru. the good, the bad and the ugly.

    ina, i tried to get an aerial shot i swear. but tita candy has it in a U configuration and it's tough. i'll try again...

  8. beautiful post!! and a great reminder!

  9. Thanks for sharing, it must have been difficult for you. Just last week I was thinking "this tummy has to go" but now I think I'll keep it :)

  10. That was a very touching story!! I don't know how you were able to handle it, but I know it made you stronger as a person. My aunt had passed away suddenly this year and I don't know how my cousins are able to handle it because I still break down when I think of her and so many others who had passed away this year :(

  11. this is quite late a reaction/comment but thank you for sharing your moment, it serves as an inspiration to me. i really cannot thank you enough.