Monday, April 11, 2016

No longer a daughter...

The last words my Mom said to were, "Can't breathe.." over the phone. Her voice still rings in my ears since that day. I was working on my first client of the day when she messaged me that she needed help. In those few seconds, I knew this was it. We had called 911 and been subjugated to time in the ICU twice before. I was worried and stressed both times but I knew it was different this time. I foolishly told her to call 911 and let her know I was on my way. I called Cliff and told him to get home and I called my sister to let her know she needed to get here. Then I called 911 from my car because I had that feeling. I made a mistake. I should have called first. My mind was already in driving mode. I was desperate to treat this like the routine it had become. I should have listened to the feeling and called right away. It was a difference of 5-7 minutes.

I arrived at my house to an ambulance and a fire truck. Cliff greeted me in the driveway. "It's not good," he said. "She's not breathing and her heart is stopped." Panic set in and I couldn't breathe. I couldn't see anything but tears. I can vaguely remember the sequence of events. They all sort of go together. There was text messaging to people in my acting class letting them know I wasn't going to be there. There was a hurried phone call to my sister. At some point I made my way into the house. There in my living room floor surrounded by police and paramedics was my mother. They were doing compressions and injecting something that I can't recall. She was blue and lifeless as they made every effort to literally pounded her heart and life back into rhythm. At one point they asked me to leave the room. They had to and I can't blame them. In that moment, the fear was so great that everything went blank within my mind and my being. I was outside of myself watching Mom die.

 I couldn't hear well. I couldn't see well and yet I was more aware than ever. I had often imagined what this moment might be like and I still wasn't prepared. You never are.

We followed the ambulance to the hospital and sat in the emergency room forever. Minutes pass very slowly when facing one's fear. Cliff made all the phone calls to family. I sat holding my mother's lifeless hand in the emergency room. Machines breathed for her as the doctor explained what she thinks may have happened. The only thing I understood was that her heart had stopped and they finally got it beating. I think that was what the paramedic was explaining to me as well in the waiting room. That whole day was a fog.

Through out the next few days, we knew Mom wasn't going to wake up. My brother arrived and after lots of tears and family strife, we all pulled together to let her go. Prayers were said. We let her know how much we loved her. And then she was gone. It was quiet and it was heart wrenching. To say that we were heavy hearted is an understatement. I don't know if you can describe truly what that moment feels like. Mom was always our mom. She had taken care of us. There were times when it was just the four of us and her against the world. Now it's just the four of us.

For the next few weeks, I was in a fog. I'm still in that fog. The hardest adjustment is that she isn't here. She lived with me and Cliff for the last few years. She was a part of the every day routine in our house. Every morning before I left for work, I let Benny ( the family fur baby ) into her room. At night we had chats about anything and nothing. She drove me crazy on a daily basis and yet I loved having her here. It's weird isn't it? I'd get so frustrated with her and then we'd share a glass of wine. I miss all of it every day.

It took me several weeks to be able to come into the house by myself after work. I was afraid to go in for lots of reasons. For one, she always greeted me when I came in, no matter how late. And two, every time I tried to walk in, I was paralyzed by the fear of seeing her in the floor with the paramedics. We ended up rearranging the living room and getting new furniture. It helps but there are still days that I don't get out of my car right away. I also don't spend time in the living room unless Cliff is home. I try not to look at her bedroom door either.

I know that she'll always be my Mom but I deal with the reality that she no longer exists in this world. I know she's in my heart and I have all of my memories with her. I hear that all the time. It's a great sentiment but it doesn't fill the hole that I carry, the hole we all carry when we lose a loved one.  I literally have a hole in my heart that will be empty for the rest of my days. It will get better with time but time just hasn't passed enough yet. Some days I still feel her. Someone asked me if I felt like an orphan. I don't think so. I grew up with a parent that I knew and loved well. I feel like I'm not her daughter anymore and that makes me feel lost.

The week following her passing I had a dream about her. I have only shared this with a few people but now I'm sharing it with all of you. In my dream she woke up. She was still in the hospital bed and there was a beautiful soft light all around her. Her eyes were full of  color and light. Her hair was perfect and she smiled at through her lashes. I told her, "Mommy you scared us." She smiled again and I felt warmth. Then I woke up. I've had dreams about her since but thats the only one where we really had any connection.

I'm doing my best to move on and live life. That's what she wanted. In fact, one of her requests was not to have a funeral. She wanted a big party that celebrated her life and we did just that. I will grieve and I will continue to cry a lot. But I am determined to live the life I dreamed of and the life that she dreamed for me. But's one day at a time. I love you Mom.
This is one of my favorite pictures with the four of us and Mom. We got those outfits from Santa.

Our first selfie together. She had just had her first food truck experience. 

Mom and Benny

Im not sure how old she is in this photo. Possibly her twenties.