On Saturday, August 31, 2013, I lost my mom. She was 58, and she was really awesome. Far too young to leave us, but such is life, sometimes. We didn’t see it coming, but in retrospect, it wasn’t a huge surprise. Her poor little body just couldn’t fight anymore.
And now, for the first time in my life, I’m figuring out life without mom. So far, it’s almost exactly like regular life, only off kilter. I feel like one leg is longer than the other, somehow.
After she died, we were sitting outside in her backyard and I kept thinking she’d come around the corner, perhaps with vegetables in her hand. Or maybe she’s not outside because she’s futzing in the kitchen?
I keep thinking about the things she’ll miss: she didn’t get to dance at her daughters’ weddings, she didn’t get to meet any grandkids. Who’s going to tell me the best way to discipline my children (or something else I really probably don’t want advice about)?
I miss her deeply. I’ve heard that I always will, which is a good thing to hear. It means I don’t have to try to stop thinking about her. I can talk to her in the mirror (I look a lot like she did at my age!), and I can remember her in my own ways. So far, I’ve been wearing her jewelry (giant gold hoops were her thing) and channeling her in the kitchen.
The loss of my mom is a big, scary, dark black cloud. But I didn’t really expect it to have so many silver linings, and those are the things I’d like to focus on.
- My dad, my sister and I were all in the hospital room, holding her hands, and telling her stories while her breathing slowed and ultimately stopped.
- She was absolutely herself through her last breath. We didn’t have to watch her lose her mind.
- She died with dignity. Her toenails matched her fingernails.
- Wherever she is, she’s no longer in pain. Her pain was excruciating toward the end, and she tried not to let on.
- She loved deeply, and we all knew how much she loved us. She knew how much she was loved.
- Because she loved so many people, we’re expecting a pretty big turnout on the 14th! She always loved a party.
- My little sister, who is my best friend, is also my roommate. That’s always been fun, but it’s never been as important as it is right now.
- My dad is thinking about coming to Portland for a little while. He called himself a lazy snowbird. One who goes 100 miles south for the winter.
- Kindness from friends, coworkers, family, boyfriend has been plentiful. The emails/text messages/Facebook wall posts are so thoughtful and kind.
- My home has never seen so many pretty flowers. It’s sweet to get flowers at my address. Dad doesn’t need them all!
- My dad’s only sister (who has seen more than her share of sadness in her life) came to be with us. So did my nana.
- Shared grief lessens the burden.
- Right before she went into the hospital, Mom decided to upgrade her kitchen. So, every day for six (maybe seven) days, new boxes would come from Amazon. A food mill! Calphalon pans! A fine mesh strainer set! Spatulas! It was strange, but Dad opened the boxes so that we could tell Mom that we’d opened them. I used the food mill, actually.
- My sister, my boyfriend and I went back to Portland on Monday, and right before we left, there was another package. I opened it. Six (yes, six) packages of tapioca starch noodles (some of the only noodles that don’t bother my fussy tummy)! We laughed. Thanks, Mom.
- Friends who provide food and company are as good as it gets.
- Hugs, and a listening ear, have been wonderful.
- It’s hard to work full days, but I have an understanding and family-oriented workplace, and I’m really grateful for the time. I don’t know how much time I need, but I’m grateful for any time at all.
- Late night snuggles, and a man who isn’t telling me “you’ll feel better soon” lets me mourn, and eventually heal, on my own terms.
- My dad is the oldest of seven, which means next week, the cavalry is coming. Aunts, uncles, cousins, the whole lot. Watch out, Tumwater, the love brigade is coming!
- Tears will be shed, stories will be told, hugs will be shared.
- To understand that I am not alone in loss, and SERIOUSLY loved is perhaps the silveriest lining of them all.
Thanks for all the kind words, friends. I love you too.