Saturday, March 20, 2010
Well today is an anniversary, not the kind of anniversary you celebrate with a nice dinner and expensive bottle of wine but the kind you remember quietly. Four years ago today on the first day of Spring in Columbia, SC my Mom finally lost her numerous and final battle with cancer and passed away.
She was only 60 years old. And I'm not sure that on the day we lost her I realized the magnitude of what had been lost. I don't know that I was aware I lost my mentor, my teacher, my best friend, my advocate, hero, etc.
We were one of the lucky ones in so many ways. My brother and I had watched Mom battle cancer two other times and walk away with some battle scars but also as a a stronger person. And we were also given time to process and plan things. We knew Mom was dying and had time to try and come to grips with an impending loss. Time to discuss arrangements and purchase cemetery plots, caskets, flowers, etc. Days, weeks and months to spend by her side talking about old times, making amends, saying goodbye.
But with that time comes a price. A heavy price, the price of watching a once vibrant, healthy person transform into a vegetable. We watched her lose weight, and stop eating, we saw her suffering in pain and being ill, she was usually cognizant but in the last 3-6 days she became confused and incoherent and unable to rest peacefully. We prayed that God would give her peace, we knew she was tired and so were we but we also wanted her to stay.
Looking back there are things we would have done differently and things that we wouldn't have changed. I wish I'd known then that I'd become a different person. If I'd just realized my priorities had changed and that chasing my career was now secondary and finding the right man and starting a family was my new pursuit, I could have shared this revelation with my mom and probably made her extremely happy.
Neither Brian nor I knew what to expect with the loss of a parent. We didn't realize that the entire world changed. Initially you don't notice the basics, the weather, colors, the way food tastes or what day it is, you run on some stripped down version of autopilot and go through the motions.
While its now been four years since Mom left I still miss her terribly. Sometime I'm a little angry because I feel like we were robbed. I wanted Mom to be there at my wedding, I wanted to call her with the news that we were expecting our first child and ask her a million questions about what to expect. I want to call her now and find out why my tuna salad never tastes the way hers did and tell her all of the cute things that MC has done. But instead I hold the Snoopy she gave me when I was 18and leaving for college and I give it a big squeeze. I reflect on my Mom and our memories and I hope that I can have a better relationship with my children.
Mom always did the little things, she gave us "no reason gifts" when she felt like we needed a lift or just saw something she knew we'd enjoy. She'd fix us a favorite snack "just because" and deliver it to us but then exit so she wasn't infringing on our time alone or with a friend. She'd encourage me to push myself harder and always remind me that my strengths would cover my weaknesses. And she loved us no matter what.
Sometimes when she's bring that snack or give us a surprise she'd say, "Repeat after me, I have a good Mommy," and of course we'd giggle and then say "I have a good Mommy." One day I hope MC and I will be able to laugh and I'll hear her say, "I have a good Mommy."
I love you Mom. You have a beautiful granddaughter and a grandson on the way in August. I'm hoping he'll be born on the 14th so you'll share the same birthday. I'm sorry that sometimes we have to lose someone to realize exactly what we had and how very lucky we were. So enjoy the scenery and the popcorn and keep an eye on us from those luxury seats until one day we meet again!