Well - here it is. The middle of the month. September 15, 2012. Exactly one year and 4 months from the day Mom passed away. 16 very long, long months. You know? I wouldn't want her to have one more day of pain, one more day of being trapped on the couch or unable to enjoy anything but I often wonder how I'm going to get through every day of the rest of my life without her.
If you are - or were - fortunate enough to have an amazing mother, you know what I mean. My life was wound so incredibly tight around hers, her dying is like ripping open a hole in my side - one that refuses to stop bleeding let alone scab over. I think of her so often I'm amazed I can keep from crying constantly. I talk to her in my head quite often - but they are short conversations because I get SO angry that I can't hear her answer.
About a month or so before my mother passed away, I talked to my boss about using a vacation day every Friday until either Mom was better or she passed. My sister and my father were my mother's constant caretakers at that point and my coming up every Friday meant my sister could be at home with her family while my father went to work. To this day I wish I could have been there more often but I couldn't. Mom had retired (more on that as these posts continue - I've decided this post is going to be more about my feelings than about an account) back in October, 2010 so by April, 2011 we had filled her position and the woman had been with us for about four months. She could do enough to get the guys through a day without me around. It worked out ok.
And I loved it. I'd get up there about 10, give Mom the chance to wake up and get herself situated (she often slept in because the nights would be a bit rough). A couple of times I swung by Jimmy John's and bought us gargantuans for lunch. Mom loved them - they were as close to a yummy hoagie from New Jersey as we could find out here. She couldn't eat much but she loved it nonetheless. The first time I brought them up, she ate fully half of her sandwich. It worked out. I ate the other half and saved the second one for my Dad's dinner. After that, she ate maybe a quarter. The last one was just a bite or two. It was so hard to measure her decline in things like that.
The best part about those Fridays, though, was just being with Mom and talking. Talking about memories, about the kids, about the job - whatever came up. I'd do little things - I'd change the sheets on her bed and wash the old ones. When I made her bed, I'd add some little touch - a stuffed animal at the foot of it or some other such thing.
We talked about our relationship a lot in those few weeks. I was not a stellar example of a daughter and there were things that happened in my childhood that had put a wall between us. I was angry at her, too, for things she should have done but didn't. I didn't handle that anger very well - I was ridiculously immature about it. Add to that my anger at my sister and the stuff that happened there plus my anger that my mother was dying, I had behaved fairly poorly quite often over the previous several months. We talked through all of that. I asked her to forgive me and she said she did. I believe she meant it. It wasn't so cut and dried - I had to face up to a lot of ugliness I had done and she had to face up to a lot she had and hadn't done, too. It wasn't easy but it was good.
The last conversation I had with my mother we had to laugh. She made another comment about no one missing her when she was gone and I just reacted as I always did but this time I didn't just tell her she was wrong. I asked her if she realized that 99% of the fun in my life was because of her or with her? I told her - you have NO idea how much I'm going to miss you. Every day of my life involves you somehow or another. I told her I had absolutely no way of knowing how I was going to function. She told me I'd manage - she wasn't all that special. Laughed again...that kind of sarcastic laugh that has the undertone of "Are you KIDDING me????" Then I told her that most of my life I've wished I was just like her. She was kind, she was sweet, she was nice - people liked having her around.
That was when she started laughing. That was when she told me she'd spent a good part of her life wishing she was more like me.
I probably had the most confused look on my face. More like ME????? Whyever would she want to be like me? I'm loud, I say the wrong thing - always, I get angry far too quickly and often say things with the intention of hurting whomever I am talking to, if they get me mad. She told me, though, she always loved how sure I was, how strong I was. How I always knew what I was doing and didn't take crap from anybody.
She wished she was more like me...
To this day that conversation resonates in my head. See - all of my life, I felt like the expendable one. If I went away, my family not only wouldn't care, they'd forget I ever existed. There was a lot that was done to me growing up and I was pretty sure it turned me ugly enough that no one would ever want me. A lot of walls, a lot of foolish decisions and many years later and my mother tells me she wishes she was more like me....
Yeah. Losing my mother was going to be hard and I really, really, had NO idea what hard actually meant.