The end

The call came at 7 a.m. on a Sunday morning. It was time. She was gone. So I was not going to the hospital to see her. I was going there to see her body. She was already gone, some time earlier. Not long. She was 56 years old.

Knowing myself, though I was different then than I am now, and I was no braver with death, I am surprised that I went alone. The hospital was 30 minutes away. My daughter was six years old and I was six months pregnant. After 2 miscarriages, or perhaps more, we were ecstatic to have made it to six months.

My daughter was still asleep and my husband would stay home with her. He lost his mother almost exactly a year previously.

The last thing I remember discussing with my mother regarding the baby I was carrying was my question to her–why had she not asked me how he was doing, or how I was feeling, etc? She had never asked about the baby ever, or about my doctor visits, as some mothers will do, and she had done with my first. Despite our estranged relationship, we spoke on the phone often. I cooked for her when the treatments made her nauseous, and there were only certain foods she would be hungry for.

She said, “I was afraid to jinx it.” My mother, born again and hallelujah, and all of that, not to make light of her faith, it was the real deal, but she simply was not superstitious. I could say nothing back to her. This was a condition she knew something about. She had two miscarriages between me and my baby brother. Baby number four, my sister, was a surprise, in more ways than one.

I drove to the hospital alone. It was spring, and it was cold. I think it was sunny that morning, though later, the trip to the cemetery was snowy and muddy. I went to almost every family funeral in the spring, and in the mud, sometimes with rain, other times with snow.

I drove to the hospital alone.

When I arrived, my sister-in-law, older brother, and nephew were in a waiting area/hallway lined with windows. I don’t remember clearly, but I probably hugged my sister-in-law. I’m sure I did not hug my father.

I couldn’t avoid it. He had waited and asked the hospital staff to wait, and I would be going in to see her. That was the only reason for my being there. We had not spoken in months, my Dad and me. That is a story for another day. I wonder now if anyone went to the funeral home with him. I wonder if he wanted help. He was very self-sufficient by that point.

I walked through the halls and found her room. If the words sound sanitary, please do not judge me too harshly. It is the first time in 20 years I am writing this down, outside of verse which is always twisted with some fiction. I have to write this down. Perhaps writing will help me not to forget everything I want to forget.

Just because I want something, doesn’t mean that it is best.

I understood that she had died while he was out of the room. He knew it would be soon, and she had been in and out of lucidity all week. I remember my last visit with her where she understood that I was there. I held her hand, but I never looked into her eyes. They were closed much of the time.

She wasn’t there. She was so still and cold. I didn’t touch her because I knew that if it traumatized me, I would never be able to forget it.

This is not a remarkable story. Others have had to do so much more, see so much more, make horrible, hard decisions for their mothers. I only had to show up. But that moment played a part in defining me for the next 20 years.

-tbc

_________

My grown son asked me to write down my stories so he would have them some day when I am gone. Sometimes he worries that he will lose me early since I was in my mid-thirties when he was born, and because I have been so hard on my body. This is a chapter from my journal I am writing for both my children. I will share more later, but probably not in order. I will write various stories as they come up and beg to be written. Thank you for listening.

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24 thoughts on “The end

  1. I admire your strength to be able to put this down into words. I tried to do that a few months ago on my blog. It sent me into a tailspin that took a couple of months to level out. Who knew, and I abandoned it. I look forward to reading more. Don’t worry about any ones judgement, who are they to cast stones. :):)

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    1. Thank you, Margaret. I was nervous about posting something so long, and about death.
      I understand what you’re talking about. It wouldn’t be the first time I got sidelined by my own writing and opening up, and then I came back on and deleted it a few times.

      Does writing help you though, like it does me? It seems easier than speaking sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No thanks needed. It wasn’t too long. It keep me drawn in. I posted what I wrote but the more I wrote the more it dug up things that I guess I wasn’t ready to dig up. It literally crippled me for months. The panic, and anxiety flooded me to a point I had not been at in YEARS. I broke, in the worst way. I had no idea it would happen, and decided that I’d just let that sleeping dog lay right where it was :) Maybe later I will attempt it again but after what happened the last time. It will be quite a while. That’s why I admire that you are able to write about it.

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      2. p.s. Anxiety and I are old friends, along with panic also. I totally understand all you’ve written here and it means a lot to me that you shared honest feelings.

        Your blog is a positive, sunny place, and I had no idea, but I suppose we all have something, don’t we?

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  2. Rumi says, “I learned that every mortal will taste death, But only some will taste life.” Who among us has tasted life then? The way you have written it, all I could think of your mother as she lived, and your mother as she will live in your heart. There are several back stories in that remembrance, and a whiff of the inevitable.

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  3. I lost my mother early one Christmas morning when I was thirty-five years old. Your honest and vulnerable account took me back to my own feelings. Mama’s death was long ago you and healing has come to me. You have given me the gift of feeling it all over again. I have learned in my many years that grief is unique to each person. Somehow we know what is best for us – like the creatures do.

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    1. Christmas morning…I dont’ know what to say. Wow…I really appreciate your comments and I’m happy I wrote it now that someone can relate to it. I wasn’t sure if it was too journal-like. But I figure if we don’t share our burdens, there doesn’t seem much point in the writing.
      Thanks so much Viv…you are much better at commenting than I am, and I do really appreciate all the times you visit

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  4. “…always twisted with some fiction…” Sometimes I think because I trade in words (which my family only rarely equate to truth) the depth of my awareness of reality is discountenanced. Here is the truth: that there is no script for these experiences and we make our own obsequies in our own time.

    I wish you a year with a little more sweetness in it, knowing that you must be a connoisseur of salted caramel. ^_^

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