My mother didn't have a sick day in her life and at 91 years of age took no medications other than her lengthy list of vitamin supplements. In spite of having mild angina she stopped seeing Doctors in her early fifties and believed that was the key to her longevity. She was completely coherent and funny and active for her age. After my father died some thirteen years back, she and I became incredibly close in spite of opposite communication styles. I loved (and still love) her more than anything and as an only child I made it my mission to make sure she had some joy in her life after my father's death, however I was able to engender that. I spoke to her every day and although she was two-thirds of the way across the country from me, we saw each other at least once a year. Her 90th birthday was pure magic, full of delicious foods and old family tales, lots of laugher and more love than you can even begin to imagine.
During the last year of her life she would warn me “you have to be ready for that phone call.” I’d tease her and tell her not to be silly, that she was going to live to be 100 years of age. and she would laugh wryly and say that she would go when it was no longer fun to be here. These declarations from her came more and more frequently (as did her heart issues) and after her 91st birthday in October she mentioned in passing that she didn’t think she would see her next birthday. I never took any of it to heart, not even for a moment.
The day before she died she complained on the phone that she felt the tiredest she'd ever felt in her entire life and that she was going to nap. An oddity for her and I honestly don't remember her ever napping once before. I spoke to her after she awakened and she mentioned sadly that she did not feel refreshed but rather yet more tired. We texted goodnight as we always did, a brief exchange of love and affection and she told me we'd chat in the morning. We did not.
The phone rang as.I was putting the last touches on my hair before work and when I saw the number, I simply knew. And, in a flurry of utterly numb busy-ness, I pulled myself together enough to go to Illinois to make her final arrangements and go through her stuff, my face drained white from the shock. Step after step, I somehow made it through. This was February. I had just started a new job in the new year and they were lovely, giving me bereavement pay and being supportive.
Somehow, I managed to go on with my life with very little support. I am single, no children and aside from a couple of close friends (one of whom is my ex), I have no one. My job is in outside sales and I found it helpful to put on a happy face and go sell, sell, sell. It took my mind off of my grief. I had a dream in which she comforted me (visitation type dream) that at first I thought would help me make it through my grief (newsflash, it did not). Then, my Mother's friend sent me some of her stuff which was lovely. In fact, several boxes came to me in California but the last box was the absolute catalyst that allowed my grief to completely envelop me and paralyze me. It was a box with a metal sculpture of Don Quixote that my Father had made and my mom's Buddha that she prayed to every day. A big loosely taped box with no "Fragile" warning, a small tapestry loosely wrapped around the Buddha and no other wrapping or precautions. The Buddha was broken from the carelessness and, for whatever reason, that plunged me into the deepest grief I've ever experienced. I wept copious tears, sobbing and forlorn. That was July.
I am worse now. Trying to edge myself out of this somehow, but how? I've never known sadness like this, never felt it so deeply or intimately nor had it permeate every aspect of my life until now. I can't seem to forgive my Mom's friend although I would like to do so. I cried all day today, on and off and am fighting back tears even now. I am clueless how to navigate any of this. My father's death was hideous and painful, the result of metastatic bladder cancer that made him suffer. I "pre-grieved" his death throughout his final months and, although I was heartbroken, I was also relieved he was out of his pain. This is different. This is worse. I feel it may never end.
My usual way with words is not present here and I feel somewhat lucky to have strung these sentences together in some semblance of clarity. I keep reminding myself that Love is always the gift...