I still miss you, Mom

I still miss you, Mom

It has been 3 weeks since my mom passed away.  It seems like it just happened.  Every now and then I get a punch in the gut and it hits me that she is gone.  For me, I need to talk a bit about her.  If it is too much, I understand.  I will be posting at Mommybloggers next week where you can find more wit and wisdom.  (Or at least something that resembles that!)


Mom was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the late 80’s.  It really pissed her off, too.  Oh how she hated that she was dealt that particular card in life.  She could handle the fact that it was slowly robbing her of her mobility.  She could handle the medication that she was suddenly overwhelmed with.  What really upset her was the fact that the particular form of MS robbed her of so much of her emotions and her personality.  More times than I could count she would tell me that all she wanted was to “be herself” and get back to who she was before this damn disease took over her life.  Helplessly, all I could do was tell her I was sorry and I wished the same thing.  We all wanted to have her back to the amazingly hysterical woman she had always been.  However, even when she was really sick, she always had a bright smile for everyone.  And her humor was there.  Not as it once was, but she still was able to snap off the smart-ass response–even when she could barely speak past her treach tube.  That’s Mom for you.  (Yes, I know…like Mother, like daughter.)


This past July my sister had come to stay with me for a few days to rest and get some relaxation.  It has been a long tiring summer and she needed a small retreat in order to recharge.  (She knows that if she ever needs a break, my home is the one to go to.  I am laid back and let the kids make whatever mess they want to make, am fully stocked with magazines that could just probably cause one to lose an IQ point or two just from reading and my husband is an amazing cook.  My home can be a retreat if you need one.  That and you know you can sleep in and awake to hot coffee.  She needed the break so we were looking forward to a time to recharge.

Which is why my heart skipped a beat when at 7:30am my phone rang.  Anyone who knows me knows that there better be something extremely important if you are taking the chance of waking me up that early.  When caller ID showed that it was my Dad calling, my world stopped for a moment.  He would never call that early unless something was wrong.  He was calling to tell me that he had to take my Mom to the hospital for severe stomach pains.  The doctors were not sure what it was, but he would let us know.  I looked at my sister and she looked at me and something deep in our gut told us this was it.  This was so much worse than anyone knew.  I still don’t know why we both felt that at that early time, but we both felt it.  On paper, there was no reason for us to think that.  Not then.  But we struggled as to what to do.  Do we immediately pack up the kids and head down there?  Do we wait to see what happens?  Do we just ignore the pit in our gut and try to maintain a sense of “nothing is wrong” and let the kids play?  After some time alone and a few margaritas, we knew that we could not ignore the gut feeling we had and began the “Let’s get going” process.  Little did we know the road that was ahead of us.

This was just before BlogHer ‘05.  It was encompassed by so much other turmoil that was thrust upon me at that time as well, I just didn’t know which way was up, let alone feel like I could go to a conference to lead a session, meet new people and try to be social.  It was the amazing friends I met at BlogHer that have gotten me through this time now.  Some I knew just from emails, some from phone calls and some who threatened to come get me if I didn’t get my butt there. (Ladies, you all know who you are.) Through those lifelong friendships I made there, I am have been able to find my way through these last 6 months.


The Friday before Christmas, my Dad, my sister and I met with all of the people working on Mom’s case.

“We need you to know that we have done everything we can do for her.”

“But what does that mean?” I cried.  “What do you mean all that you can do?”

“Well, she has infections that have been resistant to every medication we have tried and that we have available.  Her kidneys are failing despite dialysis.  Her heart is weakened.  She can no longer take any nourishment even from her feeding tube.  Out best case scenario is that she stays as she is.  Best case.”

Best case meant meant bedridden, with a treach-tube, not speaking, not eating, having very little mental capacity.

What do you say when you are told that?  What do you do?  For me?  I cried.  My Dad and my sister asked the right questions.  They said the right things.  Me?  I cried.  I just begged them to not let her suffer.

“Please, please, treat her with dignity and respect and please do not let her suffer.  Don’t let my mommy suffer.” Then I cried. And the doctors and therapists cried.  I didn’t want their comfort though.  Not those who were bringing me this news.  I refused to let the doctors or anyone else comfort me.  I simply allowed my sister to hold my hand.  Which meant more than anything.

Christmas was tough knowing that Mom was at the end.  The children kept the spirit of Christmas alive.  Their excitement was contagious.  They brought joy where we thought there was no room for anything but pain.  Children are amazing that way.  They tend to have such a simplicity to their lives.  We chose to not say anything to anyone else in the family until after Christmas.  The following Tuesday, we met with the representative for hospice to see how it would all work.  Before that meeting was all over, there was not a dry eye in the room.  It was the right thing to do in our minds, but our hearts wanted to keep her with us forever.  I never really understood the complicated emotions and guilt that come with hospice care.  I never knew that the family had so many decisions to make and things to prepare for.  The kindness we were shown was above what I would have ever hoped for.  I only pray I can pay it forward one day.

After that meeting we had the horrific job of going to the cemetery to choice a plot, a casket and all of the things that go with that.  I don’t know if it is a fortunate thing or an unfortunate thing, but we got one of the most scatterbrained people I have come across in years.  Basically, you take 3 grief stricken people and mix them with Suzy Scatterbrain (or Veronica Vodka.  I am not sure) and you are going to hear some pretty smart ass remarks.  At one point when she was showing us a particular area, I asked in (in a completely serious tone) “Excuse me, but can you tell us about her neighbors in this area?  I mean, is it a pretty good neighborhood?”

She just stared at me.  She replied, “Oh, sure.  This area is nice.  Just over there is a police officer.  And here, just beside her is an elderly man who just passed.  And a plus to this partiular plot is that the space to the right will not be used.  She won’t have neighbors to the right.” (I SWEAR she said this.)

I almost snorted my own nose inside out trying not to laugh.  From under her breath my sister replied, “I dunno.  This area seems kind of dead.” Which sent me over the edge into a fit of giggles.  Suzy had no humor and was shocked that we had anything to laugh about.

But you have to laugh.  You just have to laugh or the reality of it all will just be too much for you heart to handle and you will never get through it.


I have written before that I worried I might now have said all of the right things or let her know how I feel.  I worried that maybe there was more to say.  When you know that someone you love so much is going to die you want to make sure you have done everything you can so that you are not left feeling guilt or feeling like there were things unsaid.

When we realized that Mom wouldn’t make it much longer and we were looking at a mere days left, both my Dad and my sister took the time to talk to her.  To say what they needed to say.  To share things with her that they needed to share.  Me?  I laid my head on her pillow and cried instead.  I just didn’t know how to do it.

The next day when it was just Mom and me I held her hand and she just started at me.  Waiting.  My eyes filled with tears and I finally asked her, “Are you waiting for me to admit what is going on and to talk to you about it?”

She just smiled her famous smile and gave me that look that pretty much could be summed up with the intelligent term, “DUH!”

So, through many tears and a thousand “I love yous”, I was able to acknowledge that I was about to lose her here on Earth.  That she would soon be free of all of this pain and all of the horrendous things that MS had done to her body.  I was able to tell her she was my hero and that I would always strive to be as wonder a Mom as she has always been.  She smiled.  She nodded.  She whispered she loved me.  I tolded her when she sees Jacob to tell him that his Mommy loves him and still misses him.  We shared moments that are just between us and ones I will cherish forever. 

It was the hardest thing I have ever done.


I am not big into loud emotional displays.  Unless of course I am all up in your face in anger.  Then, perhaps.  But those soap-opera dramatic scream-cries?  Not for me.  However, when I saw her before her funeral I was not at all able to be the calm, quiet crier that the rest of my family had become.  My knees buckled and the sound that was emitted from my throat sounded inhuman.  I now know what it means to be knocked off your feet in anguish.  I know she laughed, too.  I know she did because we always laughed at the hysterics on soap operas.  I mean, No One acts like that in real life.  When it happened, you better believe Mom was hooting and hollering in heaven calling me Hope Brady, the drama queen.  It did make me giggle to think about it later.

I am getting to a place where I am better.  I assumed that as time moved on, I would move on as well.  You just have to.  But, it seems like when things calm down and the reality hits you, you are not always able to think rationally.  Now is the time I want to call my Mommy.  Now is the time I want to hear her laugh.  For 6 months I called the hospital to check on her and then my Dad to check on him.  Every night.  For 6 months.  I cannot begin to describe the knot that fills my stomach every night at that time when I don’t call.  Because I know she is gone.  It is grieving all over again.

I have promised Clint that I won’t up and move back to Dad’s house, but I would love to be there.  It was a safe haven there.  A place where I could cry or not cry.  Actively do something or not.  Where I could curl up beside my Dad, wrap up in my Mom’s blanket and for just a brief moment be the little girl who doesn’t have to hurt over losing her Mom.


Mom had a very strong belief in heaven and the ability to send those of us left behind signs that they are fine and that you will get through this. I cannot tell you the number of signs she received in her life after the loss of a loved one.  So before she died, I begged her to find a way to send me a sign.  Many signs.  (I can be dense, you know.) She smiled that smile that took over her whole face and winked at me.  Silent agreement.

The day she died, I was running errands.  (Because that is what you do when you are in shock and mourning, right?) As I flipped through the radio stations–annoyed by everything that was playing– my attention was caught by the following:

“And now a special email dedication from Sandy.”

Of course that caused me to stop and listen, to a station I have never listened to before.  The following was playing.  It made me laugh.  It made me cry.  And it made me beg mom to keep those signs coming!

When I get where I’m going

On the far side of the sky

The first thing that I’m gonna do

Is spread my wings and fly

I’m gonna land beside a lion

And run my fingers through his mane

Or I might find out what it’s like

To ride a drop of rain


Yeah when I get where I’m going

There’ll be only happy tears

I will shed the sins and struggles

I have carried all these years

And I’ll leave my heart wide open

I will love and have no fear

Yeah when I get where I’m going

Don’t cry for me down here

I’m gonna walk with my grand daddy

And he’ll match me step for step

And I’ll tell him how I missed him

Every minute since he left

Then I’ll hug his neck

Repeat chorus

So much pain and so much darkness

In this world we stumble through

All these questions I can’t answer

So much work to do

But when I get where I’m going

And I see my maker’s face

I’ll stand forever in the light

Of his amazing grace

Yeah when I get where I’m going

There’ll be only happy tears


I will love and have no fear

When I get where I’m going

Yeah when I get where I’m going


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