We knew the end was near, though no one had any idea how near it was. Her ICU room was a blur of family in and out. Taking turns, letting her rest, asking for answers. Wanting, wishing, hoping, we could do anything to change the situation.
Eventually it was just Abby and I in the room. I was nearby, offering chapstick, water, jello. Suddenly she reached around me, as best she could given the amount of things attached to her.
“Get Abby.” she whispered.
“Mom, I’m right here. I can help.”
And as soon as I walked away and Abby took my place, my sweet, dying mama promptly vomited.
She knew, she knew which of her children could best handle her getting sick, and without a doubt it wasn’t me. So she asked for Abby.
These days I never know what the day will bring emotionally. I’ll have times now where I won’t break down, days will go by, perhaps a week or more, then it hits like a brick wall.
She isn’t here. She was, this time last year. But now she isn’t.
I came across a folder of unread messages sent to me during her final days and a few shortly after. One in particular from a friend who lost his own mom a number of years ago. He sent it to me just two days before she died and included his own heartfelt wishes for me, words of encouragement as to certain things he’s glad he did before he lost his own mom. Every thing he listed, are the exact regrets I have, that I myself didn’t get to do:
- record her voice
- ask her anything and everything
- say goodbye
- be there when she goes to Heaven
Of course his intentions were good. I just wish now that I’d have read it then. My biggest regret is that I wouldn’t admit to her I knew she was dying. She wouldn’t speak of it to me either, because she knew how scared I was, in a sense mothering me one final time.
Because of this though, I didn’t ask her anything and everything. I didn’t record her voice or say goodbye. And because I was too scared to be with her, I wasn’t there when she left this earth.
I know I was there a lot, I know she was thankful. But the regrets hold me tighter than I realized.
The void of her physically hurts this tender place inside of me. It’s a bruise I can’t seem to heal. A wound that won’t close. And just when I think I’ve got it together, I can walk these streets a motherless daughter, I’m reminded that I’m just that. The being that brought me into this world, is no longer a part of this world.
So the roller coaster will rise and fall and I’ll have a span of good days again, then likely I’ll find myself crying into my keyboard only to have another batch of happy. But for tonight I get to be sad, and I get to miss her with an ache that digs deep into my soul. I get to revisit her through messages and images and silly voice mails about raw honey. I get to sob and find myself wondering how I’ll get by. Because if I’ve learned anything through this, the more you run from it, the harder you’ll fall.
I choose to run with it. Head on into the emotional mess that is grief. Strapping myself into the front of the roller coaster. For it’s the only way I know how. And that, is okay.