7 years ago (yesterday) my mom passed away. She left us early in the morning, when no one was around. I think she did this because she was sure and she was ready and if any of us had been there it would have been harder for her to go.
A few days before my mom died I went to see her at the hospital. I climbed up on her hospital bed with her and curled into her arms like I was a child again. I whispered through my tears, "Mom, are you scared?" She squeezed me close and then pulled back to look into my eyes. She had so much strength that day and she said clear as day, "Bridgey, life's a bitch and then you die." We laughed- and now that I think about it, it was for the last time.
The day before she passed I saw her on my lunch break and I told her I would be back after work. I didn't go back, I called her and let her know I needed to let my puppy out of her crate for a bit and she told me that she would see me tomorrow. I still carry so much guilt about not going to the hospital one last time.
When I woke up early the next morning I sat outside on my deck. The birds were signing, the sun was shining and I felt this strange peace come over me. I will never forget that feeling or how the wet grass shined in the sun. An hour later I got the call from my dad that she was gone. I can only remember flashes of what happened after that. Nothing seemed real. It was like walking around in a dream. How was it possible that my mom was gone and I hadn't gotten to say goodbye?
My mom was an amazing woman. She could cook like no one else, she could sew, she could make things grow, she was someone you could count on, always. I wish every day that she was still here to see my kids and give me advice about being a mom. But I know she's watching over us and I know she taught me how to be a mom just by being a great mom.
It took seven years, but I feel like I have begun to heal. It has happened in small ways and there are days that I still just want to call her and cry about how hard something is or to share good news with her. I don't think losing your mom is something you ever "get over". It's a loss that can't be described.
A few months ago I read the memoir "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Coast Trail" by Cheryl Strayed. In a strange way it started my healing. The author lost her mom and everything she wrote spoke to me and had me in tears because- yes- that's how I feel!
“I didn't get to grow up and pull away from her and bitch about her with my friends and confront her about the things I'd wished she'd done differently and then get older and understand that she had done the best she could and realize that what she had done was pretty damn good and take her fully back into my arms again. Her death had obliterated that. It had obliterated me. It had cut me short at the very height of my youthful arrogance. It had forced me to instantly grow up and forgive her every motherly fault at the same time that it kept me forever a child, my life both ended and begun in that premature place where we'd left off. She was my mother, but I was motherless. I was trapped by her, but utterly alone. She would always be the empty bowl that no one could fill. I'd have to fill it myself again and again and again.”
“I lay down among the crocuses and told her it was okay. That I'd surrendered. That since she died, everything had changed. Things she couldn't have imagined and wouldn't have guessed. My words came out low and steadfast. I was so sad it felt as if someone were choking me, and yet it seemed my whole life depended on my getting those words out. She would always be my mother, I told her, but I had to go. She wasn't there for me in that flowerbed anymore anyway, I explained. I'd put her somewhere else. The only place I could reach her. In me.”
Thank you for everything mom. You are the best of the best.