One week from today marks the death of my best friend, my protector, my fountain of wisdom, my champion… my Mom. I find it hard to believe that it has been a year. I still cry every morning… I call it my, “Mom Time.” I have adapted to my new daily routine as a non caregiver. My life does not revolve around doctor’s appointments, therapy sessions, meal planning, and helping with dressing and bathing. I sleep through the night without having to help anyone to the bathroom. I have a full time job now that pays the bills and do not worry about how long I can go without bringing money in to pay for home health aides and medical supplies. I do not have the nagging feeling when I am out that I must get home soon, because my mother needs me to make a meal or help her get into bed. My back does not hurt, as it did from transferring someone from recliner to wheelchair, wheelchair to chairlift, chairlift to wheelchair, wheelchair to toilet, toilet to wheelchair, wheelchair to bed. I do not have the many arguments, about the least important things, that my mom and I would inevitably have. Wow! Sounds like my life is so much better now… it isn’t. I miss each and every worry, pain in my back, financial woe, and what I wouldn’t give again to have a full blown argument again with her. I would do anything if I could just see her infectious smile, hear her joyful laughter, or feel her tender touch again. We were always close, but our family triumphs, tragedies, and losses that we experienced together created an unusually strong bond. While I am stronger because of her, I am also weaker without her. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her. She was a survivor, I am a survivor. The world is just not quite as sunny, or funny, or loving, or tender, or poetic, or special since she left us… almost one year ago.
Sunday marked the 6 month anniversary of my mom’s death. I find it hard to believe that it was that long ago now. I still think and cry about her every day, although it is for a shorter time. The feelings of sadness are now hit with an overlay of disbelief. I find it so had to accept that I will never talk to her again. There are so many things that I really would like to ask her. It is so hard when something interesting in my life happens now and I am not able to share it with her. She was always there for each “triumph and tragedy!” While we changed the house and have packed up much of her stuff, there is still much to do. I just don’t have the motivation right now to do it. What I find hard to deal with is all the knowledge, stories, and history that are now forever lost because she is not here. Thank God she wrote so many wonderful poems about her life that I can go to whenever I miss her. It is just that it is an incomplete picture, and I long for more. I think that is what my grief has turned into…a longing and ache for more that I know in my heart I can never have. The best two words to describe the feeling would be, “it sucks!” My friends and family have been so supportive and I am so grateful for that. I have had a lot of loss in my life and have managed to get to the other side of it. This one has been the most difficult, and while I am moving forward, the process is extremely painful and challenging.
It was a month ago on December 10th that my Mom died holding my hand at home. I find words unable to express the hole that has been left in my soul. She was my best friend, protector, confidant, and fountain of wisdom for my entire life. We have been through so much together and the knowledge that I will not have her for the rest of my life seems so unbearable. We have been through so much together… the death of my brother to suicide when I was 16, the near fatal car accident in 1992 that my father was in and the home care we administered to him for 12 years after the accident while he suffered dementia until his death in 2003, Moms’s stroke in 2003 which left her weak on the right side and unable to write or speak very well, the death of my sister-in-law to breast cancer, the death of my dear Aunts Gloria and Gen, and finally the death of my oldest brother to suicide in 2010. And that is just the bad stuff! She was there for every play I ever appeared in when I was an actor, every graduation from college, every birthday, every holiday, anything positive in our lives we always shared together. She always knew how to cheer me up when I was down, always had the right things to say, or give a much needed hug, even after she suffered her stroke.
We lived together in the same house and it is so eerie here without her. The house is so quiet without her. She was such a presence and that has been silenced now. Because it was her house, there are reminders of her everywhere, and each one I encounter can send me off into a deep crying jag. Since her stroke she was my main concern, and my whole life was geared to making sure she was happy. The days were filled with helping her dress, doctor’s appointments, home health aides, physical therapy, and assisting her with whatever she needed. My daily routine, or should I say lack of one now has left me utterly confused and bewildered. So much of my identity for almost 20 years has been caregiver to one or both of my parents.
I realize that in the plan of things we are all to lose our parents when we are alive, but when you live with someone almost your whole life and they are no longer in your living space it really hits you hard. When my brother died two years ago in Maine, it was easy to think we just haven’t seen him in a while. Yes I knew he was dead as I attended the wake and funeral, but his death did not affect my daily routine. Also, of course, I was not as close to him as I was to my Mom so that is probably why I am affected so deeply.
It is also a revelation that I am now the last remaining member of our family unit. I am not only mourning the loss of my Mom, but my whole family. There is now no one alive who remembers me as a young child. I am the keeper of my childhood now, and I can only remember so much myself! It is of no comfort to know that I am the next to die as well!
While I have mourned all my losses deeply, I was not as deeply connected to any who I have lost as I was to my Mom. We had this connection that was almost psychic and we complimented each other well. People who saw us together always commented on our unique relationship, as it was so obvious to those who met us together. With her death, it literally feels like I have lost a body part. I yearn to be whole again, but feel like I never will be now. When she died, I felt a part of me die that instant and while I can go on, I know that I will always be missing an important piece of me.
My partner, friends, and family have been wonderful through this ordeal. They know how deeply close my mother and I were, and have been great checking in and up on me. I can see they feel so helpless at times, as there really is no way to make me whole again. I cherish their love and their care that they give me at this time. Unfortunately for me I am no longer a religious person. I find no comfort when people tell me she is “in a better place,” “God needed her more,” “she is looking down on you,” or “she is reunited with your dad and brothers.” I believe she is dead and I will never see her again. These platitudes only help those who believe exactly as you do, and I find them more distressing than comforting. I also don’t appreciate when I tell you that she was 87, and I am told that “she lived a good life.” Yes she did, but she didn’t want to die and just because I had her for a long time doesn’t mean that it should be easier to deal with her loss…it makes it harder. Yes, I know I was lucky to have her for so long, but when someone dies you are missing them and not thinking how lucky you were. I am not angry or upset with anyone who expresses their concern for me and my loss. I know it is difficult to find the right words to express to someone when they suffer the death of a loved one, and I appreciate all who have made an effort who have done so. I am just amazed on how the words affect me.
I know I will go on, if there is one thing I learned from Mom it was how to endure tragedy. I feel sad when I want to, and happy when I can. At one month out though, I can see that this will be a long, slow process.
I am changed forever and I miss my Mom.