If I allow myself the quiet time to close my eyes and think, I can go back to my place in the world three years ago. The ICU doctors scrambling… The many tubes, machines, IV’s, and medical personal that littered my mom’s body… The uncertainty in my dad’s voice… The fear in my heart…. The feeling that everyone with a stethoscope around their neck knew something that they weren’t yet sharing… The introduction to words like “sepsis,” “system failure,” and “bacterial meningitis…” Who would have ever guessed there would be a disease I could hate more than cancer?? As horrific as everything was in those dark hours, I was at peace being near my mom. I remember hating how cold her hands were… I remember confidently knowing that whatever had suddenly consumed her body would be squelched by her fight for life, just as it had with each of her three cancer battles… I remember the moment that I realized I could be wrong about this confidence. I remember pleading with her to live because selfishly I couldn’t exist without her. I remember the single tear that fell from her right eye after my pleas….. As if she was telling me that she couldn’t stay no matter how much she wanted to.
I spent the night of February 1, 2011 holding my mother’s blackened hand…. Hoping for an answer, praying for a miracle, and spiraling into a sadness I never knew possible. Tonight, as the moments draw closer to the anniversary of that dreadful day, I am spending the night alone. Alone with my thoughts, alone with my feelings, alone yet very much surrounded by the love and memories of my wonderful mother. Today I have journaled, I have cried, I have remembered. Today I made new memories with my dad that I would never have made if this momma’s girl still had her momma!!
Tonight, I am thinking about my three young children, thinking about how they are healthy and innocent in this crazy world. I know in my heart how blessed I am to have so many people keeping me in their thoughts and rallying behind my difficult days. Next week marks the fourth anniversary of my beautiful mother’s arrival in Heaven…. Which makes it the fourth anniversary of my journey of living without “my person” on this earth. I have steadfastly hated every day without her, have struggled to enjoy moments that should have made me blissfully happy, have been afforded the unfortunate opportunity of understanding just how precious life is, and have been blasted with the knowledge that perspective is everything.
I often find myself feeling silenced. Who do you turn to when the one person you’ve relied on for 29 years has vanished? How can you replace someone you never wanted to lose? I’ve cried to family and friends, sought counseling, logged a billion hours journaling at coffee shops with unknowing patrons awkwardly pretending to ignore my sobs. I’ve traded in my drive time phone calls with Mom for silent nail biting (I STILL can’t figure out what to do with my hands now that I can’t hold her to my ear!). I’ve switched from traditional scrapbooking (a hobby I have enjoyed with Mom since I was in Kindergarten) for digital scrapbooking (no emotional connections to hold me back AND I can’t drench the computer screen with tears like I do the real paper!). Rather than keeping current on my original blog knowing that my mom would be the first one to read my entries, I have neglected it. Instead of calling my mom with a quick complaint or joy, I find myself randomly throwing my thoughts to the Facebook universe just to get them off of my chest and for lack of better option. Milestones made by my children are met with quick happiness… Followed by painful and quiet sadness. Can things really be as exciting if I can’t share that excitement with the one person besides me who would cherish it most?
I hate that my kids are going to grow up with a jaded mommy who suspects lymphoma if they get a bug bite, who thinks a cough could be meningitis, or who thinks a flu bug could be salmonella poisoning? How is that fair to my kids?? And yet can anyone blame me?? I first learned about death when Jessica Greene, a 1st grade best friend, was killed in a sledding accident. I was introduced to the word “cancer” when I was 7 years old because my mom was diagnosed for the first time. I learned what a heart attack was when I was 9 years old because my Grandpa Cary died of one. I learned about “remission” later that same year thanks to mom’s second battle. I’ve said goodbye to classmates and friends, grandparents and family members, and babies that I would grow inside of me yet never get to hold. Am I a pessimist or simply realistic? I tell myself the latter. I so badly wish that I could go back to the naivety that comes from living a life of lollipops and rainbows, gum drops and unicorns. A life where all babies are born full term and healthy, and where everyone lives until they are old and gray and crossed every last item off of their bucket list. Or perhaps I do live that life? Despite saying goodbye to babies that I never got to hold, I get to hear the laughter of my three healthy children everyday. Despite losing my amazing mom at the young age of 52, I shudder to think the woman I might have become had I not grown up with her as my role model. If I had lost her when she was first diagnosed with cancer – At the age of 30 – I would be a completely different person. Despite any sadness I am feeling, there are a countless number of people in the world that are suffering in ways I can’t even fathom.
Next week, as I do every week, I will wake up with sadness over the memories of all that I have lost, but remind myself to feel blessed for all that I have and have been given. Tomorrow I will get out of bed and start my day, just as I have the last 1,460 days. Tomorrow I will make new memories with my children and give them a chance to love their momma as much I love mine. Tomorrow I will make new memories in my world and try to live each second making my momma proud.
I miss you every second, Mom.