Monday, October 12, 2015

"I love you too, honey" - Mom

Mom was fine in early February, then she fell, and she wasn't ever fine again. She spent weeks in the hospital, and then more weeks in a nursing home, and then she died. She was fine on Valentine's Day and dead right before Mother's Day.

During those weeks I worried about her all the time. I made the 8-hour drive up there to be with her several times, both with Greg and alone.  I slept in the hospital room overnight, I sat in the nursing home room, for hours and hours. I gave her water, I applied lip balm, I fed her, I bathed her, I told her what time it was, I held her hand, I told her I loved her. She told me that she loved me too. She went from weighing almost 120 pounds to less than 100. She slept most of the time. She was sometimes confused.  She couldn't hear and most of the time didn't want to put her glasses on.

I knew she was suffering. I felt like I was losing my mind. I googled "what is a nervous breakdown". I couldn't sleep and kept having to take Tylenol PM. I would sit at my desk at work, in the uncrowded quiet building, and cry.  If anyone asked me about her I would tear up. I talked to HR about getting FMLA, just to go be near her.

My sister was with her almost every day, decorating her room and putting lotion on her hands and feet and watching out for her and making sure the nursing home employees were taking good care of her. She would send me texts and emails and sometimes photos. I'd get them and cry.

I was so worried about her death. What if she was alone? What if she got scared or was in pain?

I would sit next to her in the nursing home watching her sleep, her chest barely moving with her breath. I would hope she would die right then. I could tell everyone how she just went to sleep and didn't wake up, she was peaceful, I was holding her hand, she was fine.

I also knew it could very well happen while I was at work. I started keeping my car keys attached to my swipe card and my phone at work, every time my sister called I would answer while walking out of the building to my car.

And that is how it happened.  At 2pm on a Thursday I answered my phone, already walking to the door, and my sister said "Mother has gone to be with the Lord".

I waited until I got to my car to start crying. My sister had been with her, holding her hand, when she died. She really was fine.

I left work and drove myself home, feeling like the whole world had tilted, but I was okay. Then I got confused when the car key wouldn't open my front door.

And Greg and I drove up to Virginia for the funeral, and our relatives were so kind and sweet and wonderful, and the weather was beautiful, and the scenery was gorgeous, and I felt happy. It was a small funeral in the family funeral home, and then a graveside service in the family cemetery. We went to the church afterwards and ate fried chicken, and pie, and green beans that had come from someone's garden.

It was just exactly what she wanted.

That happiness lasted for a while. I was happy that she was gone, not suffering, not in the nursing home. She believed in heaven and wanted to go be with Dad. I was happy for her.  I was handling it so well.

But now I'm having nightmares. And crying too easily. I guess it was stupid of me to think that I could grieve happily for a few months and that would be it.

I only miss her when something happens, you know? Something good that I want to send her photos of, something bad that I want to tell her about, a holiday to send a card for.

I only miss her all the time.