January 17, 2017---It is now April 7. I have sat on this for a long time trying to decide if I was ready to share it. I am. The healing begins.
It Isn’t Just Another Day……
Last night was possibly the longest night of my life. I awoke to Laura’s alarm going off. Laura did not wake to that sound. Oh, to sleep like a kid. I would give anything just to sleep like that. I don’t think I finally went to sleep until after 2 am. So, now the alarm is going off and I want to sleep. The dog is still in bed. Joe is on his pillow and Bella is wedged in the bend of my knees. We just don’t want to get up. After a moment I remember. What happened was real. This was not a dream. I am awake now and my head is pounding. It is a hangover of another kind. It is not the kind brought on by too much wine. It was brought on by too much crying. I guess I may as well just get up because now that I remember I won’t be able to go back to sleep anyway.
I head towards the kitchen to get my coffee, just like every day. I pour it, put sugar and cream in it. I look out the kitchen window wondering if there are any birds around. There are not. Hmmpph, fine, I don’t care anyway. The animals all get up because they are sure they have not been fed in a week. Joe is at my feet persistently meowing and it is on my nerves. I say, “shut up, Joe. I’m not up for all of this drama today.” Kando comes over just to say good morning. She gets her pets and her wigglyness is getting on Joe’s nerves. He could just move, but cats are not like that. So, he sits there with his ears back being a jerk. Then he gives Kando a slap. The dog just gives him a big old lick on the head, like she always does. There is the difference between cats and dogs right there. The cat is being mean cuz he just feels like it. The dog is unconditionally loving to everyone, forgiving, full of kisses. Joe now has a wet spot on his long fur and hahahahaha on him. He deserves it. I hear the shower start indicating that Laura is actually up and getting ready for school. I see the white board and my list of things to do, go to the bank, pick up prescriptions, pack. If things aren’t on the white board, they don’t usually get done. I am forgetful. There is a list of things to do just like any other day. BUT THIS ISN’T LIKE ANY OTHER DAY!!! No day will ever be the same again. The world as I know it is altered now. Everything seems different.
You see, now my world does not have my Mom in it. I knew it was coming. I prayed for it to come soon as she was in pain. I wanted that over with. Well, she passed away a few minutes past five last night. Wham. The world as I see it changed. I didn’t really see that coming. When I had my babies, the same thing happened. I never saw things the same again. Now I cannot imagine this hole in my heart ever repairing and the world seems different. My Mom was my phone call. You know, I called her when something great happened, something sad, whatever. She was my call. In truth, she hadn’t been my call for a few years now. I had to shield her from any stress and she didn’t understand a lot of things. Her memory had faded quite a bit. My Mom always knew when something was bothering me, even before I told her. She would ask, “What is wrong, Erin?” If I tried to deny it, she would call me out.
I sat down at the kitchen table and put my head down and sobbed. How was I supposed to just act like today is a regular day? Ben came and put his hand on my back. I said, “How can today be the same, you know, everyone gets up, does the same thing. People all over are just getting ready for work, or whatever, like it’s just a regular day. How can that be? Like nothing happened. I am supposed to just accept that life goes on? My MOM is not in this world. She is gone. Poof. Gone.”
I am leaving for Grand Junction today with my brother, Colin. Kathleen and Kevin are already there. We need to all be there with Dad. Poor Dad. How will he manage? Ben took Laura to school. She does not want to go to Grand Junction now. She just wants normalcy. She and Ben will stay here as the service will not be until spring when the weather is better. So, Ben takes Laura to school and goes to work. Here I am. I start the bath water. The year I was diagnosed with MS, we installed a fabulous Jacuzzi tub for my aching muscles. Wow, I love that thing and I love my Ben for agreeing to it. My phone is going bananas with texts. My siblings are all discussing dinner tonight when we get there. Should we go out, should we stay in? What will dad want? Sometimes texting just kills me. Every time someone has an idea, it bleeps through. Then, someone else has another opinion and that bleeps through. I said to ask Dad what he wants and then go with it. I could care less. Go out, stay in, don’t eat at all. What difference does it make? Just whatever Dad wants. I look in the mirror and it isn’t good. My eyes are bloodshot and so swollen. I look like I was hit by a train. I was.
Last night I cried and cried. I asked Mom to give me a sign. When I was last there Mom and I had an interesting discussion. I was telling her it was ok to go. She said, “I just don’t know about this heaven and hell thing. So, there are so many people gone. So, we are all up in heaven. Then what? Then what do we do??” That’s when I said maybe you have an Irish coffee with Auntie Margie. She said she didn’t believe any of that and it was “absolutely ludicrous.” Ludicrous, there is a strong word for ya. My brother and I laughed a lot at this because my Mom is Catholic. Definitely strong beliefs in heaven and hell, whom will go where and why. How can it be that Mom is on her death bed questioning the whole deal? If I was going to get to see my Mom again alive I intended to ask her to show me a sign from the other side. I was going to ask her to have a bird sit on my kitchen window ledge. My Mom adores birds, knows them all, and has not been able to see them for years now. Now she can see them!! Well, I didn’t get a chance to talk to her about sending me a sign. I asked her last night. Ben and Laura and I were lying in Laura’s bed with Bella talking about how God will have his hands full now. I prayed out loud. I asked Mom to show me a sign. I asked God to watch over Papa and help him find some happiness for his remaining time.
So, this morning I climb into the tub. My cell phone and cat are on the edge. Joe likes to watch the water fill up and wonder why humans are so very stupid. We have tongues, why don’t we use them? Once when they were kittens Bella jumped in the tub. Joe was sitting on the counter by the sink and jumped in after her. It was insane. Crazy catness everywhere. Long haired cats like Joe are very ugly wet, by the way. His tail looked like a pencil. I had my cell phone in case anything urgent came up. I don’t know what could come up now, Mom already died. I had decided to opt out of the discussion with my siblings as I am very overwhelmed. I am feeling so very overwhelmed. I have not been answering my phone either. I can’t. I just can’t talk.
So, let me back up a minute to when I was last visiting Mom and Dad a few weeks ago. After saying a hard goodbye to Mom I was heading for the door. By the door there is a dresser with a million pictures of all of us on it. Almost all of them are in frames. There is one of Mom that was just sitting there, not in a frame, just propped up against another picture. She was wearing a rose colored turtleneck, a cute vest and looked so pretty and happy and healthy. I took my phone out and took a picture of the picture. That is how I want to remember my Mom. I want to remember her happy, healthy, and smiling. My beautiful Mom.
The tub filled and I turned the water off. There sat Joe. All was quiet. I am alone in my head and just so very sad. I feel so lonely……you know, like I lost a huge part of who I am. My base was rocked. My head was spinning. I took a deep breath and thought about Mom in the picture. Seeing her so sick was beautiful in its own way, but I want to remember her well. She would want that. I open my eyes and look up at the ceiling, wondering if when you die you then really visit people from up there or if you can just go wherever. I say, “Oh Mom, I am going to miss you so much. I miss you already.” My phone made a weird noise and lit up. You know, when you aren’t on it for a while it goes dark. It lit up like I had a message. I look at it and there is the picture of my Mom. The picture of the picture I took when I was in Grand Junction last. It is up on my screen and lit up. What?? My jaw dropped and I sat there in shock. After a minute or so, I picked my phone up and scrolled all around everywhere looking for a message from a sibling or someone that might have just sent me that picture. Nope. It was not sent to me. It is on my camera in my phone but there are several pictures before it and after. It is in the middle. There is not an explanation for why that picture came up on my screen right then.
It was Mom. Mom was helping to calm me down, just like she always has. She was giving me a sign. I thought the sign would come in the form of a bird, but nope, Mom had to do her own thing. This was real. It really happened. I said, “Thanks, Mom.” I was calm then. After I was done blow drying my hair and getting dressed, I remembered what Mom had said about heaven and hell and how ludicrous it was. I could not help myself. I said. “I knew heaven was real. I knew it. Now you are there and you know it too! I told you so!”