Trip South- Mom
It was so hard packing all of my moms belongings- emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Being considerate: Buddy, my step-father, is the sweetest man I know and he really loved her. It was so hard for him to see all of her things being packed up, so I tried to be very sensitive and even discreet whenever I could. If I took a picture down, I put another in its place. The same for decorations. I packed her closet while he was out and quickly moved them into a guest bedroom so he didn’t have to look at bags and bags of her clothes. It’s been hard for him.
A chance for closure: I got a chance to talk to my brother about my mom. He was by her side the whole time and he shared the details and photos with me. The pictures of her after her stroke were awful to see. They said she was not in any pain, but still. Her 2nd stroke (the one that put her in the hospice) paralyzed her esophageal muscles. She could not control what went into her stomach or her lungs. As a result, she had a feeding tube. She also kept filling her lungs with fluid. The paralysis would have killed her if the brain tumors did not. After learning all of this, I came to see that her death due to a 3rd stroke was definitely one of the more peaceful ways to go. I feel like I have some closure knowing that she went peacefully and without pain.
The inevitable void: I miss her a lot. It was hard being in her house just as she left it. While packing, I found myself hoping to feel her presence somehow, but it didn’t happen. All I felt was an emptiness where her presence should have been.
Memories: It’s quite an adjustment to live with feeling such a huge void. While packing, I found pictures of her and I when we were younger. The pictures were the hardest of all. I saw a picture of her before her cancer diagnosis. She was nicely dressed- whole, healthy, and very beautiful. The cancer took it all away, leaving in its place a shell of her former self. If I had only known…
Before things went downhill for us, I was a total mommy’s girl. I worshiped the ground that she walked on and made it my mission to be her shadow everywhere she went. When I was around 8 years old, I had a dream that she passed away from cancer. I sobbed uncontrollably because I felt then that this dream was almost prophetic in nature. Little did I know that it would actually come true.
This reminds me of a strange incident. One morning I felt Chris crawl into bed with me and put his arm across me. I reached behind me, eyes still closed, for his hand so I could tuck his arm under mine. All I felt was air where his arm should have been. No one was there. Yet I clearly felt someone crawl into bed and drape their arm across me. I felt the warmth and love and there was an indention in the covers. I went ahead and got up for the morning. I saw numerous missed phone calls on my phone from my family trying to let me know that my mom had passed away overnight.
It is the little things that is hard to deal with. Like her purse for example. It is filled with paper and a small fortune in coins- just like all of the purses prior to that one. Little notes on the backs of receipts were plentiful. I can almost see her on the phone, digging for a pen to scribble an illegible reminder for whatever she deemed important at the moment. I, of course, also found numerous reading glasses and several white tic-tac containers in there as well. I couldn’t help but to shake my head and smile at this. The things that I found annoying in life became endearing in death. These are the things that made her, “her.”
The guest bedroom also serves as a playroom for Valery, my niece, and my Mom’s grandchild. Valery saw a monogram duffle bag of my mom’s. She asked, in her innocent 4-year old way, “Where are you going with my granny’s bag?”
There was a lot to take in while I was down there. It was information overload and I have not even begun to process it all yet. Sometimes, when I least expect it, a memory will break through the numbness I feel and I will feel an overwhelming sadness and urge to cry. I hate it. I hate that she gone. I hate that she had cancer and had to fight like she did through all sorts of medical torture only to die anyways. I wanted so badly for her to see my son, my pride and joy. I just want to hug her again. I want to hear her voice. I am scared that I will forget what it sounds like one day. I don’t want to forget a single thing about her.
For now, her belongings are stashed away in the downstairs family room. I need to start going through them, but I’m scared of the repercussions of doing so. Right now I am content in the numbness that I feel, at least it is not painful this way. I am simply not ready to revisit the memories right now.