Last night I learned that T., mom’s love, passed away on Aug. 28. He was 99 and four months shy of turning 100. I was quite taken aback as to finding out one month later but totally understand. The funeral was in New Jersey, there were logistics to tend to and his daughter just couldn’t call at that time. We talked on the phone for about an hour last night reminiscing about him and how much he loved mom, me and my family. He passed peacefully in his wheelchair in front of the TV watching the Dolphins play on TV.
As a friend said, if there is an afterlife, he is with the two loves of his life. Amen to that.
The call also came at a time when my world has temporarily stopped.
To make a long story short, after complaining of headaches for several weeks (which she never gets) daughter L had an MRI of her left temporal lobe that showed a spot – 4 cm or about 1 1/2 inches. A biopsy last Monday revealed a lesion of abnormal tissue. She was also seen by an infectious disease doctor before her discharge.
I, like probably so many others, am a doctor’s nightmare as I quickly took to the internet to read up on brain lesions, microglial cells, etc. Well, our wait will shortly be over. We are meeting with the doctor tomorrow.
This past July 4th marked what would have been mom’s 92nd birthday. I was always so confident that she would live to her 90s, even while her condition deteriorated. I know. I was not being realistic but I was hopeful.
This holiday has become quite bittersweet for me. But I’m now able to remember all the wonderful birthdays of hers that we celebrated – watching the fireworks on the banks of the Trinity, my brother flying down and surprising her, celebrating her 89th birthday – her last – with our future son – and daughter-in-law.
And now, we’ve been blessed once again with that one thing that mom so wanted to be present for – her great-grandchildren. Four months after our first beautiful grandson entered our lives, comes another, and named after mom.
So welcome sweet, sweet little “L.” Welcome to the world and to our family, and know that you are named after a wonderful, fun and loving woman, and are so loved just like she was.
I hit another milestone today – I shopped in one of mom’s favorite stores for the first time in more than two years. And, it didn’t feel strange. I felt like it was almost a celebration of mom because she always enjoyed shopping there.
I continue at that crossroad where when I think of mom I no longer think of loss and gloom as I did in the past. I continue to be able to think of her with smiles, chuckles and reminders of the fun times we had, even when she might not have been having a great day.
I do miss her of course. Every day. And so sorry she can’t hold, kiss, coo or smother her first great-grandchild with her love. Mom, no need to worry. I’m doing that for both of us.
It’s quite amazing the strides I have made in my grief journey. This time last year I would never have believed that I could be where I am today.
As I wrote in an earlier post, I was experiencing signs that that I was moving on from grieving. There have been other signs, like this bamboo plant of mom’s, which is not doing well. Despite caring for it, it’s dying. And every time I pass it my heart sinks a little, like I’m losing a little bit more of mom. But it’s a sign to me to continue to move on.
But on March 5 we were blessed with our beautiful and precious first grandchild, William, and mom was blessed with her first great-grandchild.These past two years have been a struggle but, life is getting better.
It’s hard to believe today marks the 2nd anniversary that mom left us.
I’ve gotten texts and emails from friends and family checking in on me and I must say I am doing OK. Really. And actually feeling a little guilty about it. For those of us grieving I think once we are able to accept our new normal, there’s a little bit of guilt that about not being more mournful of our loss. I know I am conflicted with this feeling. And I know this is not unusual. But what this tells me is that I am recovering – recovering from close to two years of intense grief.
As I wrote in my last post, the fact that I haven’t felt the need to visit my blog as often tells me I am on the road to recovery. That I am learning how to live my life without mom being humanly and physically here. But she is with me in so many other ways – the clothes of hers that I wear, photographs of her, her furniture, the scent of her bath lotion. And each of those is a warm reminder of her.
I spoke with my remarkable T. last night and at 99, how remarkable he is. His continuous love for mom is beyond words. And as I always do after I speak with him, I teared up.
Yes, I survived my daughter’s wedding seven months after losing mom, and survived my son’s, too, a year later. And now as the great-grandchild that mom so passionately wanted is only weeks away, I will survive that miracle of life without mom, too, but will miss her all that more more, just the same. I love you mom, today and forever.
I have been absent for a couple of months. I think I’m taking this as a sign of healing — that I don’t feel the need to pound out my feelings on the keyboard as much. Don’t get me wrong … I still grieve for mom. I still miss her every day and she is in my thoughts EVERY day. But I think I’m slowly learning how to live without her.
Since losing her, my family has gone through wonderful life cycle events – the marriages of my daughter and son, and now the pending births of their first child, my first grandchildren and mom’s great-grandchildren.
This past Monday my husband and I celebrated my birthday with friends, one of whom shares the same birthday. The restaurant chosen was the same one we celebrated mom’s 89th birthday. My heart sank a little. If I was given a choice I would have vetoed it. There are still places I can not go into because of mom. After arriving we were shown to our table. Of course it turned out to be the same one used for mom’s birthday. I was hesitant as we approached the table. As I settled into my seat and looked around, I took the restaurant choice and the table as a sign — a sign that it’s time to move forward.
The second anniversary of mom’s passing is a month away. I feel I have made great strides in the past six months, although peppered with some small setbacks, which I expect will re-occur from time to time. I am trying to do my best to remember mom, not with thoughts of sorrow, but with thoughts of all the wonderful things about her and the wonderful times spent together. I continue to be a work in progress.
It’s adapted from the book “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” by Katy Butler, and due out on Sept. 10. So, I guess there is if you’re able to leave this world on your own terms whether it be doing anything and everything to prolong life or choose palliative care. As my generation of those born in the 1950’s and perhaps later face the imminent passing of our parents, it’s important to honor whatever wishes of dying they have.
Once my mom approached her 80’s she would comment that “we’re just living too long.” I would say, “Oh, come on, mom. It all depends on your quality of life.” I believe she had a good one…until she didn’t. She had directives of no heroics.
We talked about her dementia, however uncomfortable it was for me because while I acknowledged it privately, I was in denial that she had Alzheimer’s. I wish I had been more honest with myself about it because maybe I would have handled some things differently. Mom had a wonderful speech therapist and we often discussed her condition and progress. But I remember getting annoyed with mom when she couldn’t use her TV remote as I explained certain buttons to her. There were times when either I just forgot or didn’t want to acknowledge the increasing limitations of her cognitive ability. Why? My denial or acceptance was not going to change things. I’m still baffled by it.
One of my biggest regrets is not being there when mom took her last breath.
I had sat vigil with her in hospice for two weeks, about 10 hours a day. During the second week she was sleeping a lot more and less awake. I still talked to her, stroked her hands and face. The night before she passed way I decided I needed to sleep in a little and was going to come in a little later that morning. Where was my head? Her doctor had told me that it was going to happen that weekend. Why didn’t I just stay with her overnight?
The hospice nurses assured me mom was not alone, that they were there. But I wasn’t there. And to me, that makes the biggest difference in the world.
Still, I am grateful that mom suffered no pain, and went peacefully.