My mother died almost 15 years ago. I don’t think of her every single day anymore, because thankfully time does dull the pain of loss. Sometimes, though, I start to phone her, and then I remember she’s not there. Sometimes I want to share with her my experiences, my joys, my sorrows. But, then I remember she isn’t here anymore to celebrate my accomplishments or ease my concerns. And so, periodically I grieve again for the loss of someone who showed me such unconditional love, and whom I loved and respected so much.
I have a thoughtful and loving family, and a husband I love more than he will ever fully realize. So, I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, except one thing — I would choose to have my mother back in it. It doesn’t matter that she lived a “long and full life.” It just doesn’t matter, because she’s not here now. I miss our long conversations about everything and our long conversations about nothing at all.
Although my mother had slowed down considerably in her later years, she was like that Energizer Bunny – she never stopped, she just kept on going. She enjoyed her life to its fullest, and remarkably she had more stamina than people decades her junior.
She had a massive stroke on a beautiful spring morning while preparing for a shopping trip with my sister. Fifteen minutes after phoning mother to confirm her arrival time, my sister discovered her lying unconscious on her bed. She died two weeks later without ever regaining consciousness.
The doctors told us because of the severity of the stroke and her age, there was very little they could do for her but make her comfortable. They told us she might never regain consciousness, and if she did, she would be paralyzed and would more than likely not be able to speak. They prepared us for, what became increasingly obvious they thought would happen, her death.
In the early days after her stroke, I held out hope that she would wake up and begin her road to recovery. After a few days, though, I just wanted her to wake up so I tell her how much I loved her, and that everything would be okay. I was still trying to be optimistic, but it was becoming more and more difficult. In her final days, although hope was always in the back of my mind, I had started to prepare myself for what seemed to be inevitable. I had been praying for her to wake up so she would know I was there, but now I was afraid that she would wake up. I was afraid she would wake up and comprehend what had happened to her. I kept asking the doctors, “Do you think she knows what is going on? Do you think she is in pain? I don’t want her to be scared.” They all assured me, “No, she isn’t aware of anything.”
She died quietly on a Saturday morning. There was no drama, she just seemed to slip away. I prefer to believe that she wasn’t in pain, that she didn’t know she was lying in a bed unable to move, unable to speak. I prefer to believe she wasn’t scared. Believing these things gives me peace of mind.
My mother’s birthday is on September 19. I wish she were here to celebrate it, but actually I suppose she has never really left. She is such a significant part of me, of who I have become. She gave me so many wonderful gifts – unlimited energy, and an unlimited capacity to love life, to love my husband, and to love my family. She taught me to be respectful of others, to endeavor always to show kindness to others, and she taught me how to be happy.
Thank you, mother, for being you. I will always be grateful for having you in my life. And, I will always miss you. You were the best!