Earlier this year my mom passed away. It was sudden, it was unexpected, and it was arguably one of the most painful things I have been through. I learned something very important though.
One morning I woke up to a missed phone call from my dad at 3 am. When I saw the missed phone call my heart immediately sunk. I knew something was wrong with my mom. He wouldn’t have called me at that hour otherwise, let alone have been awake.
I called him right back, and he told me that mom was back in the hospital again, and that he didn’t mean to call me at that time. I told him it was okay, and that he should keep me updated. I went to work, completely worried. Something just told me that this time was going to be different, but I was hopeful that it was just my anxiety speaking. I honestly felt like I couldn’t breathe. My mom had COPD, as well as other health issues. In the months prior she had been in and out of the hospital for various reasons that we thought were small.
My brother and I both live in ND with our families. I decided to move here to be closer to him and my nieces and nephews after some of my own traumatic events. After keeping in touch with my dad throughout the week, and there was no sign of improvement, my brother and his wife decided to go to IL to be with her. “Just in case”. I wanted to go, but it didn’t make any logical sense. Instead, my boyfriend and I took care of my brothers 5 kids while they were gone.
The week they were in IL, was a constant emotional battle. Good news, immediately followed by bad. By this time my mom was already on life support. She was not doing well at all. At the end of the day, on April 24, 2019, my boyfriend and I made the decision that we needed to be there. The next day I was frantically calling schools, packing up, and making arrangements to travel with 6 kids. We also had to make the hard decision to leave my boyfriend’s daughter with her grandparents, and my brothers step son with his father because there weren’t any rental vehicles available for 10 people. About an hour before Bubs got home with the rental van so we can all pile in and make the journey, I got the call.
The chaplain was in the hospital room with the rest of my family that was already there. We said a prayer, and they told me to talk to mom because she was about to leave us. With tears pouring out of my eyes, I was telling her that I was trying to get there as fast as I could, and that I was bringing all of her babies. (Grandkids) I told her that I love her more than anything, that I wanted her to be comfortable, and be at peace. As soon as those last words to my mom came out of my mouth, she had taken her last breath.
Getting off the phone, I knew it was time to put the tears away and focus my attention on getting everyone ready. I was still in shock. We didn’t get to my parents house until about 4 am or so. By that time, we were all beyond exhausted. We didn’t get much sleep though, that night or the remainder of the week.
The week was filled with family coming and going, some that I haven’t seen in years. Although it was nice that we got to see some of our family, the circumstances were far less than pleasant. I remember feeling numb, I literally couldn’t think. I even had a hard time speaking. It was as if I was temporarily paralized. I didn’t eat for about 3 whole days. (I got in trouble for that too.) With everyone’s emotions so high, there were also a couple arguments.
Writing my mom’s obituary was… unreal. The service was beautiful, and standing up in front of everyone that came was terrifying. It was easy to come up with something that everyone in the audience could relate to when it came to my mom. She was a caregiver. There wasn’t one person in the audience that she hadn’t taken under her wing at one point or another. The hard part was that it was very REAL, we were really saying goodbye. That was the day we fully addressed that she was gone.
I was afraid to go to sleep that night. We had to go home early the next day, and I didn’t want that time to come. I missed my home dearly, but I was afraid to “leave her”. I felt like I was leaving her, by leaving her home and all of her belongings that I was likely never to see again. (Except for the items I took home) I know it’s not rational, but nobody said feelings were rational especially after you’ve lost a parent or loved one. I cried so hard that night that my face looked like a balloon the next morning.
We got home bright and early (around 3 am) on my birthday. I didn’t want to do anything, as I’m sure you guessed. Things haven’t been the same since my mom passed.
The thing is though, that even though she is gone, all of the love that she has given me and my siblings throughout the years is not. It doesn’t just leave or disappear because she is no longer with us. The love is what makes it so painful, unforgettable, and so very real.
Even when my relationship with her was rocky at best, I now know that she just wanted the best for me. “Why is mom so grumpy all of the time?” was a question I often thought to myself. As an adult, I get it. She was a single mom (before she married my Dad, who is actually my step-dad), with 3 terrorizing kids and working her arse off to make the best for us.
As teens when we would get into trouble, her yelling wasn’t just out of anger, it was also out of fear. Fear that something bad would happen to us. Fear that she was working too much, and couldn’t be there for us. Fear that she wasn’t working enough to give us the things we needed. As teens, we didn’t understand that kind of love.
Even as adults, that motherly love never stops! The last time I saw my mom was when she was there for me after getting out of an abusive relationship. She came and stayed with me, sat in the kitchen and drank coffee with me, even hugged me as I sobbed. That was one year and one month before she passed.
Nothing on this earth could ever replace who and what my mom was to me. Although I will never feel the warmth of her hug again, I do have a million memories and pieces of her everywhere I look. Not just in the form of photos, or the ceramic turkeys she gave me when I got my first house. (Those things are very important, too!) I have pieces of her in all of the love she has ever given me, or shown me. Even if I didn’t agree at the time.
That type of love, the love my mom taught me, I can pass onto my kids, and my grandkids in the future. A mother’s time on this earth might be short, but her love is immortal.