Saying Goodbye

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The funeral was hard in ways I hadn’t even thought of.

My older brother and I were the first to arrive with our photo boards and things that had been important to our mom. We hung up our coats and I remember walking up to the door of the room the service would be in. I couldn’t go through. The open casket was there in the front. I just stopped. It was all becoming too real in that moment. I hadn’t seen her since thanksgiving and this is not how imagined I would be seeing her the day after Christmas. Part of me had still been hoping that this was all a long and very detailed dream from which I would soon awake. But now it was real. I fought the tears, set our stuff down on the back pew and waited in the lobby for my dad and younger brother to get there. I just wasn’t ready for this. I don’t think anyone ever really could be.

Many of my mom’s old friends came to pay their respect. They spent a lot of time looking at the photo boards and because she didn’t like to be in front of the camera, most of the photos were from her youth or early marriage before she had my brothers and me. Countless people who hadn’t seen her since childhood or high school told me “that’s the Linda I will always remember. The healthy, energetic teenager. I won’t remember her illness.” Those words stung, even made me mad. I didn’t really know that Linda. She had been diagnosed with kidney failure when I was in 6th grade and had been declining some in health for a while before that. I hardly remember a time when she wasn’t sick. It was just a part if our life. It hurt that people weren’t going to remember her the way I knew her. I was mad that I didn’t get to know the young woman everyone kept telling me about. It just didn’t seem right to me.

The hardest part was saying good-bye. As the visitation ended and right before the service started, it was time for the family to say goodbye. We invited her best friend from childhood and her husband, who had been through it all with her, to join us. Just before they closed the casket we had a moment to say whatever we needed to one last time. It had been 2 weeks since I had heard her voice and this is not how I had thought I would be talking to her next. It was one of the hardest and most personal moments of my life. The worst part was that everyone who was there for the service was watching this. All those people who weren’t going to remember my mom the way I knew her, all those people who I had never met until today were watching. I felt exposed and I wanted them all to go away. I said goodbye to my mother and we went into the lobby to pray with the pastor before the service. When we returned the casket was closed and I knew I would never see her face again. My heart shattered.

The only thing that made any of this easier was the support of my wonderful friends. More of them than I could have hoped for came and some of them went to get food for me because that’s the last thing I had thought of when leaving for the funeral home. People who had been with me through all the ups and downs of my mom’s illness were there. People who let me cry in their arms and who pointed out pictures of her that reminded them of me. Without them I would not have been able to get through any of it.

As I continue to figure out how to grieve I have to constantly remind my self that I can only deal with the present moment, but I need to start dealing with it. I’ve been good at distracting myself these last 2 months. I’m hoping that by writing out my experience I can begin to move past parts of it that are holding me back from the healing process. I just want to thank my friends for their patience. There will be times when I cancel plans or don’t return phone calls but it’s nothing personal. Those are just the days that I’m having a hard time saying goodbye.

Slipped Away

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I’ve been absent for a while. I didn’t know how to put into words what life has thrown at me lately. But it’s time to write it down.

A month and a half ago the thing that I knew would happen eventually , but hoped wouldn’t for years to come, happened.

It was 6 am and I received a text. My dad told me to call home, it was about my mom. I had gotten these kinds of text before when my mom had to go into the hospital, but somehow I knew it was different this time. I called and my dad was crying.”This is it.” he said. The paramedics were there and they couldn’t find a pulse. My mom had passed away. I couldn’t believe it. It was 3 days before Christmas. I was going to be coming home tomorrow after work to see my parents. This couldn’t be real. I was just dreaming, right? It was so unexpected. I was joking around her with her just 10 hours ago on Facebook. How can she be gone?

She had been sick for years with kidney failure and more recently heart and lung problems. But she had been doing well. It had been awhile since she’d been in the hospital. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I want to be able to say goodbye and I love you one more time. I’m struggling everyday to put into words what I feel. How do you explain heart-break? How do you tell people what you need when you can’t name it yourself?

I think the hardest part has been when I think about all the things that will be different now. When I think about things that might be in my future that should be joyous occasions, my heart breaks because she won’t be there to share it. All of these future happy occasions will also be times of sorrow. When I think about the possibility of marriage, I realize she won’t be able to help me pick out my dress like she always wanted to. She was anxious for grand children and now she will never be able to hold her first grand baby. It’s not just the loss of her presence now that I mourn, but her presence in the future at important life events.

It reminds me of the words of an Avril Lavigne song, one that I feel says all that I’ve been feeling much more succinctly than I ever could.

“The day you slipped away, was the day I found it won’t be the same.”

I miss you mom. But I have hope that I will one day see you again.

me and momRest in Peace.