Thursday, November 16, 2006

Two Years

Two years ago today I rushed to my parents' house knowing full well what was happening. Mom was in pain that they could no longer control and not breathing well. I arrived at their home to find an ambulance already in the driveway. I remember parking in the neighbor's driveway and running into their home to find my mom unable to speak and my dad and aunt in calm but nervous voices telling me that they couldn't take care of her pain anymore and that she had to go to the hospital. She'd been home under hospice care for the past few weeks with all of us taking turns caring for her.

I remember driving behind the ambulance with my dad in the car and letting him out at the ER entrance so he could be with her while I parked. I remember calling my husband and asking him to pray that my mom be released from her pain. I remember all of us trying to frantically find my brother to tell him to come immediately. I remember knowing in a most searing and painful way exactly what was happening.

At my mom's bedside in the emergency room were my dad, myself, my Aunt Carol (my dad's sister), finally my brother, and the minister who my parents were good friends with. My brother nearly collapsed when he came in. I've never in my life seen a grown man cry like he did that day, without any regard for who saw or heard his pain. I remember just holding her hand and stroking her head as they began a morphine drip that slowed her breathing until it stopped. I remember feeling relieved when she finally passed away after so much time spent suffering through her illness. I remember grey skies much like today.

The rest of the next few weeks were just a blur for me. A wake and funeral followed by joyless holidays, making the best of it all for my kids. What I didn't know then was how much I would miss her every single day. At first it just felt like a void, almost unreal. I had dreams where she was very much alive almost every night. Those dreams eventually ended and the reality set in.

My mother, you see, was the most loving and luminous person I have ever known. She was smart, fairminded, generous, and caring. Our family is not the same without her. I have tried to fill some of the emptiness that exists in our family, but I pale in comparison to her. I feel all of my rough edges when I compare myself to her. I feel my selfishness. My mom wasn't perfect, but she was one of those people that you couldn't say many bad things about.

So two years later, I am looking at myself and feeling sorry for myself and feeling angry. Angry is one of the things I do best. It's not always an external anger, but the kind that roils below the surface. I know in my mind that I am more fortunate than many to have had her as long as we did. I hate that I lost something so precious. I hate that it still hurts like it does. I hate that it has changed me. I hate that autumn is now one big season of bad memories. I hate that I feel like I'm sleepwalking through my life. I hate the hole that I can't seem to fill.


lulu said...

Sharon, you are a beautiful, smart woman, a loving mother, and a dear dear friend, in short, you are exactly like your mother in all the important ways.

I knew your mom for many years, and I know that the last thing she would ever want is for you to feel that you were not living up to her example. You have pretty much singlehandedly kept your family together for the past two years, and have been a rock for your brother and your father as well as for your husband and children.

Please let me know if you want to talk, or walk, or go and get drunk. I love you.

Tenacious S said...

I'd love to talk, walk, drink, and fall down, but I have to work and act like a responsible parent. I need loud music and booze.

Coaster Punchman said...

I second Lu's statements - when I read your description of your mom I thought it sounded very much like you.

Thinking of you.

Beth said...

G*ddamn, TenS, I wish I were nearby so that I could give you a long, hard hug. I'm listening to R.E.M.'s "Make It All OK" and sobbing. Your story is so close to that final day of my dad's life, his last day battling that bastard cancer. Fifteen months later (to the day), and that hole is still as large and empty and painful as that horrible day. I was so glad at The Moment to see him released from the pain -- and, damn, he fought until the end -- but my life has missed something big since. I have a photo of him on my desk, and I look at it and talk to him all day long, especially on the rough days. I guess when we're deeply loved and love deeply, we'll always ache when we lose those beautiful creatures. You'll be in my thoughts all weekend.

Tenacious S said...

Thanks, guys. Gotta let it out or it'll eat you alive. Beth, I know that unfortunately you understand this very well. I was talking to my friend Sonja, who lost her mom shortly after I did, about how when you are loved so much, you lose so much. Thanks for your thoughts. It really does help.

Sonja said...

I understand. And it seems unreal that, although it was two years ago, the pain is still so fresh and the tears so near the surface. Certain times of year make that tape play over and over in your head.

Your mom, be assured, had her own sense of shortcomings, her own doubts about how she stacked up to her role models. But there is no adjective that you used to describe her that I don't see in you.

Bubs said...

Your mom sounds like a wonderful woman, and I know she's proud of you. You go easy on yourself, you hear?

Dale said...

I'm very glad you have a way to let some of it out. Draw on the love of your friends, family and keep moving.

Anonymous said...

I have found my children to be a great comfort in the loss I had this year. From everything I've heard, you are the person to your children that your mother was to you. I hope you can draw some strength and comfort from that.

wonderturtle said...

Thinking of you and not knowing what to say. I am so sorry.