Tonight my friend Kathie, tweeted: “Tell your family & friends you love them. Pick up the phone & call them. Life can change in a heart beat.”
It’s here. The day I’ve anticipated and dreaded. March 18, 2014, the 1st anniversary of my mom’s death. You can tell yourself over & over your parent is going to die, that’s completely different than realizing they are actively dying. I always knew the day would come but didn’t accept it, even though I’d been told she was dying. At the time reality and reason did not co-exist.
Ever since March 9th I’ve been remembering what occurred each day last year, she started getting sick around the 4th & my kids & I (mostly my son) stayed at her apt. and took care of her. March 9 we took her to the ER cuz her breathing was so labored & shallow. On March 11 she was sent to a rehab hospital and on the 15th she was sent home to die.
I remember when my mom was well, sometimes I’d worry about her getting hurt or even dying. It felt as though if she were to die, there would be no air to breathe, my world would cease to exist. Here it is, 1 year later and yes, my world did cease to exist, yet somehow I am still breathing.
Until late December I couldn’t “see” my mom in my mind, I’d have to look at a picture to remember her face. One night I had a dream about her, we were walking into her apt.- we must’ve gone to a hair appt. She was wearing a familiar blouse & smiling (as always); it was 1 of those dreams you don’t want to wake up from. When I did wake up I tried going back to my dream but couldn’t, ever since that time I’ve been able to remember my mom. It’s best explained to say my memories went from 0 to 100 very fast, it was overwhelming yet I didn’t want it to stop.
Sometimes I can feel my mom with me, it’s not something I actively sought out, it just happened. It happens when I’m alone, out of nowhere I’ll see an image of something we did together, it’s more than just that though- hard to explain. Other times it is a knowing presence, I can feel her with me. One time I went to bed angry at Jim, as I lay there I suddenly had an image of my mom making a funny face (a sarcastic smile) she did when I’d tell her she looked sad, or didn’t look happy. I fought it, but eventually I couldn’t help but smile & burst out laughing. I know without a doubt that was my mom cuz she knows my temper & used to hate it when I’d get so angry… all it took for her to change my mood was a silly smile.
I’ve heard people say (not to me) when you’re older your parent’s death shouldn’t affect you as much as when you’re younger – HOGWASH! Throw that & any other judgments or expectations in the trash. Everybody’s experience is unique. Feelings don’t really make sense: there are days I want to cry but I feel numb, some days I don’t think about my mom- others I’m consumed with her- sometimes I start crying and can’t stop- absolutely no rhyme or reason to it. There is no right or wrong when it comes to grieving.
I spent a lot of time with my mom, helped her when she’d let me, laughed & cried with her. We people-watched, she’d wear sunglasses & feel invisible, sometimes it was so obvious she was staring & I’d be embarrassed, but she’d always make me laugh afterward. Our roles reversed: I’d be calling her to make sure she was home safe & hadn’t been drinking too much. She lived a full life to the very end!
My regrets have to do with my mom’s final days. I wish we’d had time alone, just the two of us. Time to hold her hand, tell her how much I loved her, thank her for everything & for being my best friend. A chance to say good-bye. I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, maybe my mom and I weren’t meant to say good-bye.
Time… nothing replaces the time you can spend with someone, even if it is sitting by their side, holding their hand and not saying one word.
ps… Lisa S. if you read this please let me know, I’ve lost your email.