Its 4am and I’m pulling an “all nighter” just like i do many nights. While my husband and dogs are snoring away, I sneak out of the room and head down to the couch to either read magazines , get sucked into ordering something from those “suck me in” infomercials, or sometimes just sit with a cup of hot tea and think. Lately I’ve had this very strange pit in my stomach..a feeling i just haven’t ever felt before..its a sad empty weird feeling so i’ve wondered what this feeling inside me is lately. Then tonite, it hit me like a brick. This is the first year without at least ONE of my parents for the holidays….and its breaking my heart.
A year ago immediately after my huge December sale, I locked up the door after the final customer left, (didn’t even tally up tickets or anything, not even cleaning up the place) and drove to my hometown because my mom got very ill. I will never forget pulling into my hometown and deep down when I saw the small town lit up with the same lights that were used when I was a child, I had a heart wrenching feeling this was going to be the last Christmas with my mom, the remaining “part” of my parents.
I remember walking into her bedroom and she was lying there on her side…she could hardly move. She had been sick for a while and the dr.’s in that community and a community close by could never give her any answers. I was determined to get answers. After much begging and doing research we brought her to Oklahoma City and the process began. She was tired but her mind was sharp as a tack. My daughter and my husband were my lifesavers. I rearranged my work schedule and took her to as many doctors as I could. My sweet friend Julie helped us find the appropriate doctors. Kidney failure had taken its toll.
Moms birthday is on Christmas day. While she was at dialysis I went shopping and as I was buying her lots of gifts, I knew she wouldn’t live long enough to enjoy them. My daughter and I decorated the house Christmas eve while mom was in dialysis and when we brought her home, we had a birthday party for her. We videotaped the party and I think I still watch it twice a week, and look at the photos almost everyday.
After a few weeks of mom having to hold on to furniture to walk, she then had to use a cane..then be pushed in a wheelchair, then she wasn’t able to walk at all on her own. We had to lift her in and out of bed, then feed her, all while she was mentally perfect. She was watching her loose her body while her mind was still perfect. My daughter came to our house every day for lunch and spent every night with me on the other couch while we watched her sleep. Then the news came. The dr.’s told her dialysis was killing her…she could continue taking it and die, or she could find someplace comfortable and die peacefully. Kidney failure is a peaceful death they explained. Something I did not understand. She felt no pain during the entire illness.
The words were heart wrenching, but I wanted the dr.’s to be upfront at all times. It was hospice time. We turned our tv room into “her room”. I brought things from her bedroom, photos of my dad and her, and still laugh at one photo when she stared at it and said..”i sure was a pretty girl”. I smiled and said “you still are mom”. We kept fresh flowers by her bed, kept the tv on QVC (and yes I’m now addicted ) My daughter and I kept her wrinkle cream applied, her lipstick, her moisturizer, and her hair done everyday. Its what she would have wanted. Her favorite nephew and his wife drove up to see her from Kentucky 3 days before she passed. My brother was here when they were visiting so it was a great family time.
The day came we were warned about…the sleep coma. Its a memory I can’t get out of my mind. My daughter was engaged and so wedding plans were taking place but we were trying to not discuss it much knowing mom wouldn’t be there. Mom talked constantly about her dad and my dad…she couldn’t wait to see them she kept saying.
She had a great christmas and we talked about when I was a little girl at Christmas. I was very onry around the holidays. I would open gifts and wrap them back…I wore a ring once an entire week to school that I was “getting for Christmas”..and put it back in the box .I would get a sharpie and mark in every catalog that arrived what all I wanted…(okay i still do that) I would check the closets, under beds for gifts…(okay I still do that too..I’m seriously bad). Mom and I laughed so much about things. We had the best Christmas with her. At 1am one morning my daughter was talking to my mom while she lay in the hospital bed in our house and she asked my mom “grandma, what was momma like when she was a little girl”..I pretended to be asleep and I was afraid what my mom would say and she said “she was a sweet girl…and she still is”. That made me cry silently as I sat and heard the grandmother and granddaughter have quality time together. They were so close and I”m grateful for that. My mom was the best grandmother in the entire world.
That morning at 5:25 am, I was sitting in the chair watching my mom breathe/sleep (she had come in and out of the sleep coma ) and she opened her eyes and looked over at me with the biggest smile and opened her mouth like she was so excited and then looked upwards like she was seeing someone she knew..she then looked at me again and smiled…then she was gone. I know she saw both her dad and my dad. That was the best gift my mom had ever gotten and its what she had been wanting for years since she lost my dad. She was finally with the two men who loved her so much.
Leaving behind her two girls in the room (and my sister in law was with us that evening/morning too…grateful she was here )…we said our goodbyes to the woman who had the best birthday party and Christmas ever.
So as I sit here tonite wondering why I’ve been so sad lately when I have so much to be grateful for, I’m reminded that I”m human. I’ve lost both my parents and I feel very alone this holiday for the first time in my 51 years. My daughter is now married, my parents are gone, and the new generation/chapter begins. Hearing the Christmas songs this year takes on different meanings. I feel like I”ve been abandoned in some ways and lost in others.
I only wish I had enjoyed my younger years more and not wasted so many nights worrying….like I’ve been doing tonite…but at least tonite I know what the worry is about…its about heartbreak, change and life.
Mom and dad get to celebrate her birthday and Christmas for the first time together in 13 years, so I have to be happy for them and not selfish for us.
Treasure your family, embrace their good, forgive for their bad, and be grateful for one more day.
Merry Christmas mom and dad…and Happy Birthday mom.
Happy Holidays to you all