I've noticed that even with those who have round the clock family members to sit with the dying, it occasionally occurs that the person dies when someone has momentarily stepped out of the room. I think the patient knows when it is time to go. Some psychologists say there are those who seem to hang on until no one is around as if they want to leave freely, without famly clinging to them, perhaps holding them back. They also say that a person will hang on for much longer than expected as though they have one last thing to do, one last person to kiss goodbye.
This is how it was with my father. All the family came in to see him. Dad's sons and daughters, the adult grandchildren, the great grandchildren, even the great great grandchildren. Dear friends came and some called.
My brothers and sister, my daughter and I had all taken turns being with him. That last night we all had said good night at different times. I was the last to leave. Except my sister, who stayed in the room in case Dad needed anything. She sat in the lazy boy chair right next to his bed with her feet up. Among all the family members, my sister was the one who had spent the most time tirelessly attending to Dad's needs. She was the most likely one to spend her nights there beside him. All he had to do was whisper and she was asking what he might want, even if she was in deep sleep she would hear him. Truly, a devoted daughter.
They say just before someone dies, their breathing changes and some unusual noises are produced, perhaps a snore or two. But, somehow, with my sister right there beside him, Daddy quietly slipped away. To this day she wonders why she didn't hear him have those breath sounds. Maybe he just didn't want to disturb her and let her rest.