ISSAQUAH, Wash. -- Michelle Bennett's mother Carolann lived a life of service. She spent 38 years working as a nurse, and last week, at the age of 75, she died surrounded by them.
"I got this voicemail from her ... reception was a little spotty," Michelle recalls. "She said, 'Hey, I know I told you last week they were testing residents for COVID-19, and I'm positive and there's nothing I can do now.' And I'm like, oh my God. I called her, and she was resilient and brave as she could be in having that news."
Not long after, Michelle, a major with the King County Sheriff's Office, got a call from an emergency room doctor at Swedish Issaquah Campus, letting Michelle know her mother had a 10 percent chance of surviving.
After 30 years in law enforcement, Michelle's been through a lot, but nothing could prepare her for this moment. Not more than a few days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, Michelle's mother's time came.
"We got a call ... and it was Tatyana the nurse ... she said, 'I can tell by the signs and the way your mom is breathing that the end is probably near. And I said, 'Well, can I talk to her?'"
Tatyana the nurse told Michelle to stand by. She said she'd suit up in protective gear and use her personal cell phone so Michelle could say goodbye to her mom via FaceTime.
"She held the phone to my mom's face, and I told my mom that I loved her and I was going to miss her," Michelle says. "You know, as every mother-daughter does, we had our issues. And over the last month of two we talked about some things from the past. But I never had a moment or time to say, 'I forgive you and you forgive me.' I was able to say, 'Mom, I forgive you ... and I love you, and I'm going to miss you. And it's OK for you to go. It's OK to go.'"
The nurses panned the cell phone so Michelle could see one nurse rubbing her mother's head and another nurse holding her hand.
"My mom could hear my voice as she was being comforted," Michelle says. "My biggest fear was her in that room dying alone. I couldn't even stomach it for even a second, and those nurses made it so that didn't happen."
The nurses surrounding Carolann gave this mother and daughter more than just the gift of goodbye. They gave them peace.
"When the nurse moved the screen from my mom's face ... and put it back up to her, she was crying. I could see the tears through the mask," Michelle recalls.
As Michelle mourns the loss of her mom, she offers a word of advice to others who may soon be going through the same thing:
"Don't wait, because you don't know the amount of time you have to say what you need to say to your loved ones. Say it every day."