It has been three weeks yesterday. I am still numb. I’ve reached the point of tears twice…that’s it. I miss my mom……a lot.
When I stop to remember those last days…those last nights when it was just her and I, the tears come. When I remember her voice, the warmth of her hand on my cheek, the sparkle in her eyes when visitors came, her silly addiction to Kemps Vanilla Ice Cream Cones, her tenderness and unfiltered words – the tears come.
She passed away Monday, August 20th.
We stayed up late on Wednesday laughing and watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It was late….really late for her. I felt a little guilty, but we were so enjoying the movie. It was a departure from reality for a little while. At least I’d like to think so. Gosh did we laugh. Neither of us regretted that decision.
Then again Thursday night. It was like she knew the end was so close. She insisted on another movie night. I told her we could wait and watch it during the day. “No. Now.” she said. So we did. Kate and Leopold. One of her favorites. We made it 2/3 of the way through before she declared it was time for bed. Her routine followed: neck pillow in place, lap blanket, shoulder blanket, chair remote in hand, water within reach. She’d ask for chapstick and I’d gently glide it over her lips. The she’d request her mouth spray. Three spritzes into the left cheek. I’d gaze a long moment into her eyes, smile, cover her with kisses. “I love you forever, Mama.” “I love you forever, baby” she’d reply. Then lights out. Neither of us knowing if she’d wake in the morning.
This was our routine those last 6 weeks – give or take a movie/tv show.
(Side note: my mother introduced me to Dr. Pimple Popper late one night. GROSS. She laughed and refused to change the channel. Not that I wanted her to…..it was gross but I couldn’t NOT watch it. Yuck.)
I loved every single second of my time there during those weeks….
The strawberries and cream, the hazelnut creamer with a dash of coffee, the ice cream cones, the watermelon, the eggs with brats.
Binge watching Downton Abbey. She insisted she wouldn’t die before completing it….she HAD TO KNOW how it ended. Seriously, she was a crazy woman when it came to those binge days. She even got her mother hooked.
I gave her her last shower. God I thought I was gonna pee my pants she had me laughing so gosh darn hard. But the simple pleasure of bathing was not lost on her that day. Her joy and satisfaction was radiant.
It was hard watching her fade. Seeing her become more and more dependent for everything….every need. But it was a tremendous honor to aide her. She told me once how humiliating it made her feel. I looked her in the eyes, tears in mine, and told her, “Mama, don’t be ashamed. I LOVE you and I want to do this for you. Please don’t be ashamed. I’m not.” That was it. No more hesitation. No more embarrassment. Just love.
I couldn’t stay away. In the beginning I went for 2 nights. The kids stayed with my in-laws and John stayed home to work. The arrangement worked. The next week it was 3 nights. Then 4 nights. The last few weeks I stayed all week and went home on the weekend. I’d get home and ache to return to her. I couldn’t stay away. I NEEDED to be with her. And to be with my dad.
Something happened during those weeks. A bond strengthened. A need recognized. A love fulfilled. And hearts broken into pieces. All beautiful. All necessary. All good.
I miss my mom. I will keep missing her til the day I die.
I had the honor of eulogizing my mother. Many have asked for a copy. I voice recorded it prior to giving it see how long it was. I kinda freaked out when my dad told me 10-15 minutes should be fine. !!!!!! I wasn’t sure I’d make it through 2 minutes without utter breakdown. But I did. Here it is…..