This week has been like hell on earth. I am only a couple of weeks away from the day, one year ago, that was the last day I ever saw my mother alive. I’m chalking the uncontrollable crying jags, the depression, the stress and the anger to that. I still can’t believe it. I haven’t seen my mother alive in almost an entire year.
We have celebrated every holiday, birthday and life event without her. I lay by my beautiful pool and can almost hear the gate creaking open and see her with her straw bag, her Marine Corps straw hat and her Dylan’s Candy oversized pink beach towel. Her words were almost always the same, “Oh, I’d love a cup of coffee.” Mind you, that was even if it was a hundred degrees out. We would have our coffee and lounge around in the water. I was so proud of how wonderful she looked at her age. She looked just beautiful. Not a day over fifty-five, if you ask me. And, she still had her figure. Go figure. All the shit she had been through and she was still looking that good.
I almost pick the phone up to call her often. Mostly, when I am unsure about something at work, or to get her input on how I handled something with one of my sisters, or my friends. I called her for everything. We spoke at least once a day. Al would make fun of me. Whenever we got home from picking out a new appliance, visiting someone, making a major decision, I would run in the house and he would say, “Who are you calling – your Mommy?” And, I was. When I called the house, my dad would often answer and he would say, “Hon – it’s Number 1” (Chrissy was 2, Lori 3, you get the idea).
Now, all I have is one voicemail from her, that I saved, from my birthday in 2012, “Hi Cole. Happy Birthday. Have a good day, alright? I’ll talk to you later.” And, of course, I did talk to her later. In the entire year she has been gone, I have only listened to that voicemail twice. It’s just too painful to hear the “life” in her voice. How did this happen? How does she no longer have a life? She was only sixty six. Oh, God, it hurts so much.
I try to be strong. I pretend, a lot of the time, to be okay. The truth is, my heart is broken. I have never had the good fortune to believe that my mother would live forever. I never had the opportunity to say “Oh, well that will never happen to me.” The first time she was ill, with thyroid cancer, I was a baby. It was bad. It happened again when I was in college. That time it was breast cancer. She played it down. We joked and had fun the night before her surgery. I remember we made brownies and played a game. So, despite the fact that no one ever sat me down and told me that her life was tenuous, I knew it. I always knew it. I know that having that knowledge made me appreciate her more but, you know what? I don’t care! I would have rather had her and just taken for granted that she would always be there. I want to believe that I would have still treated her right. That I still would have still been as close to her as I was.
I want to go to her house for a cup of coffee, open the door and yell in “hi Ma!”. I want to call her after EVERY family function to discuss what occurred, who said what, etc. I want to call her when I am angry with Al, when I am afraid to try something new, when I need assurance about a decision I make at work, when I need advice about the kids. I just want to hear her voice. I just want to smell her; that mixture of Merit 100s, Estee Lauder Beautiful and Coffee. I want to see her with her little fingerless gloves on (they helped her arthritis). I want to hear her tell my children she loves them, to hear her sing to Gavin, to hear her teaching him his alphabet, and to do puzzles and what the name of each fruit the play basket was. I want to hear her banter with my father, see her roll her eyes. I want to hear her laugh again. She laughed often and with feeling. I would give anything to eat one more of her cakes, or pies, or other delicious desserts. I want to call her in October and discuss plans for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah and Christmas.
I wish she had cried more. I know, being like her, that this is not a healthy trait. Just a way to feel “ in control” of our feelings. It doesn’t work. Those feelings just come out in a rush or you don’t sleep – take your pick. My mother and I have struggled with both of those conditions.
I am angry that I didn’t get to see her before she died. I will never, ever forgive myself for not coming home when she was ill. I know she told me not to, I know that her oncologist told me that she would be ok and that it was perfectly fine for me to come home the next day but, I will never forgive myself. Al said it and my response was, “My mother said not to and I don’t want to scare the kids.” What a mistake. I never had any idea that when I stopped in to the office to give her a hug good-bye on Thursday afternoon, it would be the last time I would see her alive, the last time I would touch her, or look into her eyes. She called me the next day while I was packing to tell me to have a good trip and that was the last “good” phone call I had with her. By the time she was able to come to the phone after I got to California (she had been to ill to speak to me for days), she perked up a little as we spoke but, then, she asked me “Cole, how long am I going to have to do this?” She sounded so scared. I assured her that we would get through it and we would talk to her doctor about lowering her dosage and we would do it, together, until she got well. Like I said, it will be something I will always live with.. I posted something the other day that I thought of for myself. “Forgiveness does not change the past but, it does help us have a more beautiful future”. I am trying so hard to forgive myself. As in most things in life, it’s easier said than done.
I wonder how many tears I have? Are you allotted a certain amount per lifetime? Between the tears I shed over my “birth” father as a kid, my cancer and my surgeries and now this, I must have shed enough for a small lake. Paddleboard, anyone?
I don’t know how much more I can take. Is there a certain amount that the human soul can handle before they go mad? The childhood abandonment, the loss of a childhood friend who was more like my family, my own cancer ordeal (and believe me – the fact that I gloss over that is an indicator of how much the death of my mother is killing me), now the loss of my mother, my dog, my birth father (although that was only an issue because one of his other daughters and her bullshit), the close call with my “real” father, Bob, and his ventilator issue (for those who don’t know, we could have lost him a couple of weeks ago), the stresses of running a business in this economy, buying a commercial building (because that’s the “smart” thing to do) and various other things that are not mine to comment on but, are mine to hurt and stress over.
I feel alone. I know that I am surrounded by love but, I feel alone. My mom was my rock, my love, my muse, my song, my light and my best friend. I don’t know how I can live the rest of my life without her. I really don’t.
I love my husband and my kids, my sisters and my friends, my family. I am grateful to have a business that is successful and helps employ people I love and cherish. I love my new doggie, Paulie Walnuts, I have my dream home and a nice condo in Florida. My sister, Lori, is going to have a new baby that I am SO excited about. The truth is, though, I don’t have my mother. And, I never will, again, on this earth.
I cry because of what I have lost, which is more than I can expect any of you to be able to understand completely. Even if you have lost a parent, you haven’t lost MY mother. Just as I cannot begin to know how you feel about your loss.
And many of my friends have lost their parents, too, this year; Randy, Kenny, Dina, Valerie, Leslie – you are all on my mind, all the time. And, forgive me for anyone else I’ve missed. I’m just a sputtering mess right now.
And, Andrea, my poor Andrea, I pray for you every night for the loss of your beloved Denise.
Beatris, I don’t even know what to say. To lose your own mother and then, have my mother “step in”, only to lose her, too? I hope that in some way I am able to fill that void for you but, I don’t take for granted for one second how difficult this has been for you.
I try to keep these posts inspirational and “up” but, I have been such a mess the last few weeks that I just needed to get out ALL of the things I am feeling. Otherwise, I am not REALLY putting it all out there. I also do believe in the power of prayer and, so, I am asking that you pray for me and for my family. We could really use them.
I cherish each one of you that has been there for us during this terrible time. I am so very blessed to have the family and friends that I have. I was inspired by my friend Susan, who posted one of my favorite bits of poetry the other day, by William Wordsworth:
“Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind”
I’m trying, friends. Hang in there with me –