Early in the summer of this year, I received news that I had been accepted into a PhD program in cognitive neuroscience. This was after being on a waiting list for a few months; I had acceded that I wouldn't get into a program, and I would just have to try again the next year. When I received the news that I had been accepted, my mother was so proud. She cried and hugged me, but I tried to play it off like the whole thing wasn't a big deal. In reality, I was excited and it meant more to me than anything that my mother was that proud. Of course, this meant that I had to move out of my house. I was still living with my parents and sister, but the commute to the college was absurdly impractical. I began looking for apartments frantically, fully aware that I had very little time. This was on top of the fact that I would be away for two and a half weeks in July, which severely cut into my search time. The whole time, my mom helped me every step of the way, voiced her concerns, and tried to get me to calm down - getting stressed wouldn't help anything. I finally did find an apartment in the middle of August. I was cutting it way too close. My mom was relieved, but at the same time she was sad that I was going to be leaving the house. I was her youngest, and I don't think she expected that I would be moving out at age 22. In spite of this, she stayed supportive and I promised that I would visit and call her on the phone. I signed the lease on the apartment, and I started to mentally prepare myself for moving out and starting a PhD program. I was certain this big change in my life was going to take a large adjustment period. I had never been on my own before, and, from what I could gather from other PhD students to whom I had spoken, the workload was going to be enormous. As I was mentally preparing myself, I was finishing up research with a professor from my undergraduate institution. On the last day working in that lab, I found out I had earned a bit of a nickname. In the words of a PhD student working in the lab, "They call him All-Day Jon. How long does he work? All day." This was in reference to the fact that I had a tendency to work 10-12 hour days in the lab. I was used to that much work. So, when I finally finished my work and said my goodbyes to everyone in the lab, it felt odd not having anything to do. I had a few loose ends to tie up with the apartment, but other than that I was free for a week until my program began. On Monday night, August 20th, I got back from the apartment and found my mom cooking. I updated her on apartment-related news. I then stopped and said to her, "You know, for the first time in a long time, I have nothing to do tomorrow. I can seriously just stay home all day and relax." It was a big deal in that moment, and so I naturally made a big deal over it. I told my mom that I loved her, and she said, "Thank you, I love you too." I stopped, taken aback, and responded, "No, no, no, you don't thank me for saying that. I'm just saying it." I figured I wouldn't be seeing as much of her once I moved into the apartment, so I wanted to get all of my "I love you's" out before then. I went to bed early that night, feeling tired and figuring that it would be a decent investment to try to get 11 hours of sleep (I was used to 5-6). When I woke up the next morning, I went downstairs and saw that my mom wasn't around. That was odd, since she was usually awake at that time. I went down to the basement, where we have a den, and found her lying down on the couch. It sounded like she was snoring. I figured she must have had an argument with my dad the night before (a very common occurrence in my house), and slept on the couch. I knew her well enough to know that she hated being woken up, so I decided to let her wake up on her own. A few hours later, she still wasn't awake. I tried to rouse her and got no response. I shouted and shook her, and she didn't react. But she was breathing. I called 911, called my dad to get home immediately, and spent the next few moments shaking and pulling at my hair. When the paramedics arrived, they said said she had slipped into a diabetic coma. One of them, a man, told me, "We're gonna wake her up right now." My heart leapt, and I felt a rush of relief. However, they were taking a very long time to come back up. When the same guy came up, I asked him if she had woken up. He said, "She's doing better." I watched them carry her to the ambulance, and got into the back with her. At one point her eyes opened and stared off into space before closing again. I took all of this as a good sign, and in spite of my general level of pessimism, I held onto hope that she would be okay. I visited the hospital every day for the next several days, trying to get information. They gave her a cat-scan to see if there was any brain damage since she wasn't waking up. They told me that there were no signs of lesions, hemorrhaging, or anything of the sort. I felt even more hopeful. But why wasn't she waking up? A few days later, they gave her another cat-scan. This time, they told me that she had advanced cerebral swelling such that her grey matter wasn't even visible on the scan. They made it clear that any damage done was permanent, but I sort of already knew that. My heart sank. I asked two different doctors and nurses if there was any real chance of her waking up. They flatly told me no. I went home and broke down. By this time, my PhD program had started. I hadn't yet moved into the apartment, and I didn't really feel prepared. I mostly stayed in bed while not at the hospital and I couldn't really eat. I dropped six pounds in a week, which scared me. I commuted to the university twice over the course of the week, but made it clear to professors what was going on in my life. I finally moved my belongings into the apartment the following week, and questioned how I was going to adjust to all of these changes now. A few days later, on September 7th, my mom finally died. It felt surreal, and it didn't really sink in right away. I honestly still don't think it's sunk in. I'll want to tell her something, or I'll just think of her as if she's still around, and then - reality snaps into place and I feel a rush of sadness when I realize... she's not around. I can't tell her things. I can't see her anymore. Even writing this, right now, feels unreal to me. We were so close. I was never as close with my father, but my mother and I had an affinity. And we would argue a lot, and I valued that... because it meant I was comfortable enough with her and could be open enough with her to disagree with her. And as I was moving out, I was hoping that the simple mother-son paradigm would transform into a friendship based upon mutual respect and understanding. I don't think anything could have prepared me for this, or how swiftly it's happened. And now, I honestly don't know what to do with myself. I kind of wish I could just stay in bed. I tried to take a leave of absence from my program, but then I would owe a ton of money that I don't have. At the same time, I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to concentrate on school. I just wish.. I could take a break from life for a year. But I know that's not realistic, and so I'm left floating through the motions of everyday life while feeling numb. Random little nonsense memories about my mom keep surging into the forefront of my mind. Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I laugh to myself. I was going to make a blog to record those random little memories since they were meaningful to me, but then I noticed that there wasn't really a place online where people can do just that. There are plenty of bereavement groups, but nothing I found on simply writing a memory of a lost loved one. As such, I decided to make a site where people can do that. My hope is that it will help people, and hopefully it can eventually become an archive to keep the memories of departed people alive. Just because you're gone doesn't mean every trace of you has to disappear with time... I don't know if the idea will catch on. But before pursuing a PhD in cognitive neuroscience, I was seriously considering becoming a therapist because I had a desire to help people. However, I really don't know how to help people. But if this site is able to help anyone to cope, or even if it's just a nice way for people to recollect memories... That will mean something to me. So, if you think it would be helpful, please post your memory to MemDen: The Den of Memories and suggest the site to anyone who you think can benefit. Obviously it's a free service, and I will post all memories. This isn't a popularity contest or something where only pieces worthy of the Pulitzer Prize will be added. This is for everyone. Thanks for listening..