My mother died.
These are words I didn't expect to say for quite some time as she was only 71, but she's gone. My heart is broken and I am struggling to get back to myself, my routine and my responsibilities. I am a very high functioning person - under normal circumstances - but I am in such despair that I feel as if my functionality slips away a little more day by day.
Since my mother's passing on March 11th, I've gained 10 lbs. She was buried in New Jersey, so I spent several days with my siblings wallowing in sorrow together eating pizza, deli and pounds and pounds of Italian cookies. I ate when I wasn't hungry, didn't think of the calories - I just ate because it tasted good. I think that part of my felt that if I filled my belly, my heart would get full again. The rationale part of me knew that it wouldn't make a difference - yet I did it anyway.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer the 2nd week in January and she died less than 2 months after her diagnosis. The hope was that she co
uld be treated to prolong her life as long as possible. The treatment was going to be aggressive, but she was motivated and ready to fight for her life.
Then she got the flu and was in and out of ICU for over a month.
Over the course of her hospitalization, I would travel during the week for work and then drive 5 hours down to see her on Friday nights - staying with my sister through Sunday. Mom was in good spirits and was of the mindset that she would get out and make it to chemo so she could start kicking the cancer. Unfortunately, that wasn't meant to be.
She didn't want to die. She shared that she had so much to live for - and that was what drove her forward. She wanted to be there for weddings, graduations, great grand-children.
On Feb 28th, I got a call from one of her treating providers. She wasn't doing well and I had to come immediately. I was supposed to leave for a business trip to the Philippines on March 2nd and I had been incredibly stressed for weeks prior about being half-way around the world-knowing that she could take a turn for the worse at anytime. That time had come and I was grateful that I was still stateside. I backed out of my trip and I packed up my kid, my dog, my Robby and headed down to Charleston. During the drive, I coordinated logistics so my son could come to Charleston from his college in Florida.
I cried the whole way from my house to Charleston.
I surprised mom by being at her bedside when she awoke the next morning. I'll never forget the look on her face when she saw me. Her eyes lit up and she said "my sweet girl, you have no idea how happy I am to see you!" We sat for hours that morning talking about everything that we needed to. We shared secrets, laughed at our many shenanigans over the years and cried about what would be.
She didn't want to die. I say it again because she was adamant that she was going to push through. She was determined. She was strong. She was deliberate. She was amazing.
Mom shined that weekend, she was energized, engaged and alert. She got out of bed and spent a lot of time with my kids, my brother (who flew in from Houston), my sister and her family. She loved Robby and spent time with him too. It was hard to believe that her days were limited.
Sunday came and everyone started to leave. At last it was just my siblings and I. I was going to work from the hospital so I could be by her side. Throughout the week, my sister, brother and I were at her side 20 hours a day. It was wonderful being together again - but so hard to see her deteriorate day by day.
The three of us formed a bond that is stronger now than ever before. Throughout our weeks together, we talked and cried for hours everyday. We understand
each others pain because we are all a part of her - we share similar histories and we each loved her the way one loves their mother. Unique, special, eternal.
The following Monday my sister received a call early in the morning. Mom had declined and we needed to come immediately. It was the morning of March 11th - the very worst day of my life.
The three of us sat by her side throughout the day until she took her last breath at 3:05 PM.
I cannot describe the depth of my sorrow - I really don't have the words. What I can share is that I am heartbroken and don't think that I will ever be the same again. I don't want to exercise, I don't care what I eat - there are days I over eat and days that I don't want to eat at all. I don't care if I'm fat or thin, whether my clothes are tight or loose. I don't care to wear make up or do my hair. I just don't care.
All I want is my mother back - and it's not possible.
I'll end with this - during one of my conversations with mom that week she said "Losing a parent is the worst feeling in the world. It rips your heart out because you wish you just had a few more minutes with them and there’s no more time.
There are things left to say that will never be said. Just know that you were loved. Loved beyond comprehension and that when the time comes and you think those thoughts-remember these words and how much I loved you.”
As always, she was right.
Rest in peace Mom. I love you xo