Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
I leave for Montana on Wednesday, and I'll be going alone. Christian got the week off for Mom's funeral and all the requisite support duties, so he really can't be away again this soon. Viv will be cared for in a rotation of battling honorary aunts who are all a little resentful that they have to share her.
I haven't been away for a job since my only other Montana gig singing Messiah, but that was to the ever charming Billings, the land of it's-eight-o'clock-where-did-everyone-go? This time, I'll be staying with a host family, which I haven't done since I spent that semester in London my junior year of college. I'm hoping I won't have to chat or mingle or be chipper and chummy too much. My conversation would just be so stunning:
Them: How are you?
Me: Really terrible. I'm devastated by the loss of my mother and I'm away from my husband and child and life means nothing away from them and the world will suckuntilthedayIdie.
Them: Oh. Um, well, your room is down the hall.
I hope they have laundry facilities I can use.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
I still don't know how we're all going to do this, live without Mom. Nights are the worst. I keep expecting to see her walk by in her flowered cotton shorts, trying to tidy up before going to bed. Seeing her grave filled and her name on a little plate at the head of it was shocking, terrible.
Every night I think of her and the long future ahead for all of us before we can see her again, if there is such a thing as heaven. I miss everything, the flip flop of her shoes, the hairclips on all the tables, the smell of her hand cream, her tubes of pink and coral lipstick in the bathroom drawer. I miss her saying the rosary in the morning and checking on the baby at night. I miss her pancake mix with the thousand different types of whole grain and her fondness for chocolate cake and pumpkin pie. I miss the way she loved the grandkids, how she truly cared about their opinions, how she could soothe any hurt or worry by rocking them in her chair. She always said she wished I had a rocking chair at my house, other than the tiny one from the upstairs guest room. She wanted to rock Viv to sleep at night whenever she visited.
Life will be returning to "normal" soon, which is when this will get even harder, I think. Dad asked me today when he thinks we'll all hit the ground, and I said I thought it would happen when everyone had gone home, back to their lives. I have to go home next week to get ready for Montana, my aunts and uncles all have their jobs and kids and grandkids of their own. Our grief will become something we have to bear without putting the burden on others.
Dad gave me an article today about how most people have very little patience with the grieving process of others, how the five stages should be on a timeline with a quick end. All I can think of is how I don't think I'll ever get to acceptance, because that would mean that Mom is truly gone.
Saturday, July 04, 2009
I don't know if I should have stayed so long with Mom after she had passed yesterday. I didn't want to leave her alone, but she stopped looking like herself after a while, and I stopped being able to play the "she's going to wake up" game.
The problem is, I keep expecting her to walk around the corner from the kitchen to the living room, looking exactly as she always has, in her flowered cotton shorts and yellow t-shirt, with the two silver clips in her hair to keep it from curling. I keep looking for the yellow handbag, but Kyan wanted it to remember her by. I keep waiting for her voice to call to us from the kitchen, asking us if we want food. She just can't be gone.
It was too fast, too unpredictable, the way she went. How could she have had pneumonia badly enough to end her life? How could they not have known? We have a thousand what ifs and whys and none of them will bring her back. I'm angry at her for not bothering the nurses more if she wasn't feeling well, but she hated to be a bother. I'm angry at the doctors for not giving her prophylactic antibiotics, just in case something like this happened. I'm angry that we were robbed of Mom, when we expected at least a few more years, or at least Thanksgiving and Christmas in Seattle while she was there for the marrow transplant. I didn't expect that I'd be back in Mom's house, five days after I left, but without her here.
This is HER house. There isn't a room in this place that she didn't decorate. She bought every piece of furniture at estate sales or garage sales or local shops where she could find a good sale. That makes this place sound shabby, which it isn't. It's pretty and comfortable and elegant, except for the livingroom carpet, which she wouldn't get rid of. I hate that carpet.
Why isn't she here? Why isn't she home to see her grandkids, or at least at the hospital where the kids could see her on Skype. Why isn't she still alive? It makes no sense, which, I realize, is something that everyone says when something like this happens, but now it means something to me. She was FINE. I spoke with Mom twice on Thursday, once on our usual morning call and once on Skype, when I was feeding Viv. She liked to be part of our daily lives and watching Viv eat is pretty funny, besides. She even posted to her Caring Bridge website that night, not ten hours before she went to the ICU.
Mom didn't want to die. She wasn't ready, she wanted to watch her grandkids grow up. She was supposed to live to 100, surrounded by great-grandbabies. When she fell unconscious, she must have been pissed, in that corner of her mind where she was still aware of what was happening. I'll bet she was thinking, "No, not yet! I need to do so much more, be with my family, it's not time." And oh man, would she have been furious that we all halted our lives to be here. She hated it when we interrupted our routine for her.
What's my Dad going to do without her? How do you make your life again when the person you spent the last 43 years with is gone? How do you sleep in your bed when the last time you slept there, your wife was with you?
She can't be gone. It's not possible. Too many people loved her, depended on her. She was too young, too healthy, even with the cancer, too concerned with antioxidants and working out, too active to die. How is it possible that she's never going to visit us again, that she'll never sit on our couch and say how much she loved to visit us, and how our house is so cozy. How will Viv not wake up to Grandma holding a bottle, waiting for her? How is it possible that Viv won't know her Grandma Judy?
It was too fast. Too unfair. I didn't get to say goodbye, I didn't get to hold her hand while she died. I love my mother, she was my hero. She was my savior, in a very real sense. No one else could have cared for me the way she did when I was small and sick. I have such memories of her holding me, walking through the house in the middle of the night because I was too sick to stay asleep, and she would let me hold the crystal bell my aunt Barb brought back from Germany. It was special and made me feel like I was being given a treat. She would carry me outside to see if there were any crocuses, after the long winter. I know she was over protective, but I honestly didn't care. I was so safe with Mom.
I'm now thinking awful things, like tonight at church. I saw all of the extremely elderly ladies and I though, "What makes them so special that they're here and Mom isn't? She was the best of all of them." I feel truly wretched for these thoughts, but that doesn't make them go away. Mom should have gotten a pass, a dispensation, an indulgence. She was too kind, too loving, too giving. Why was that taken away from us and the world? She should have been exempt.
I don't want to hear that she's in a better place. She's not. This is the better place, where her grandkids are, where we are. This house is the better place. Her rocking chair is the best place, where she held almost all of our kids, rocking them to get to sleep. She got to hold Andre in her hospital room, so she got to rock him there. She needed to be able to hold him until he slept here, where she belonged.
I don't want to be planning her funeral, but I have to. We all do. I don't want to think about caskets and flowers and fucking food. I want to think about her next reaction to a new outfit of Viv's, to how much weight Andre has gained, to Jayden's t-ball game outcome, to a Kyanism or to one of Declan's new words. I want to be able to give her the video I take of Viv almost crawling, just to hear Mom's reaction. Her reactions were always the best. My cousin Amy always said that you called Mom or one of her sisters if you wanted a good, satisfying reaction to news, good or bad. I want to be sitting on the downstairs couch with, watching "A New Leaf" again, hearing her exclaim about the poor condition of my feet. But I don't want to be here without her.
Without her. That's going to be the rest of our lives. Without Mom. It's going to suck.