It was twelve months ago our family gathered around her bedside and watched her fade away. Afterward, we spent time just being silent, just being. I tried to speak into her ear and my voice would not work. I screamed but all was quiet. I was a silent strain. My sister and I dressed her for her final ride, knowing that she would want it to be done properly. She was a dignified woman and a lady. Cancer never took my mother's dignity, even though she felt that it had. As long as you hold yourself to the highest standards, you still have your dignity, even when it is difficult to reach the bar you keep setting for yourself.
Daily, I ask myself, "How long do I have to go on this way?" I am nearly forty years old and I have no longer the person who brought me here. When she left, there loomed such a gaping hole that I feel I might very well be swallowed up in it. I suppose the giant hole has a name and it is Grief. I know that Grief can swallow a person completely and I know that some people find that they cannot face their daily business without the pall of sadness that wraps around them like a swaddling blanket. There are those who prefer to dwell there. There are also those who let it take them. I do not want to risk sounding suicidal, because I most certainly am not. But I do wonder, "How long must I go on without my Mom?" Each time I look at her photograph, I think "I miss you so much, how long do I have to do this?" And then...tears. Her photograph does not answer.
The presence of my children is my answer. The fact is I had my mother so much longer than she had hers. I am in the more fortunate position of having been raised by my mother into adulthood. She knows I would always choose to stick it out and give my children all the advantages a mother can provide. To leave them, would be pure selfishness. But how to answer the question of how long must one go on this way? What I mean to say is in this condition of sadness. I manage very well in the day to day drumbeat of life. I enjoy my work, my co-workers, my husband, my children, my family, my church, my friends. With the help of family and friends, we tackle the logistics of getting the children where they need to be daily. Somehow, the basics get done and no one gets hurt. Frankly, it is all a blur. Most days, I feel like life gets done, but not done very well. Getting a delicious meal on the table used to seem like such a culinary adventure. Now it is simply a burdensome task that deserves no more creativity than picking out the which ketchup to purchase.
At what point do I attend a social function or go to the mall and not constantly think, "Mom would have liked this. I wish she could be here."? If there is one thing I have figured out, in these twelve months, it is that it does not get any easier. I will always miss her.
I will always miss her smell.
I will always miss her smile.
I will miss her critiques.
I miss her infectious laugh and her wicked sense of humor.
I miss calling her on the phone for every question and to tell her every little mundane detail.
I miss her encouragement.
I miss her insistent generosity.
I miss her scrappiness.
I miss her unsolicited advice.
I miss the way she bragged about her all her children and her grandchildren.
I miss her obsessive cleanliness.
I miss her pissing me off.
I miss her telling me what to do.
I miss her amazing ability to be Mom.
When you miss the good, the bad and the ugly in a person whom you love, how do you carry on and live a normal life? Or a happy life? And all these questions just feel like a whistling into a deep cave. The sound just gets lost and the answers are just as vague as the inquisition.
Oh to be in the arms of my sweet mother and to tell her one more time "I love you, Mom."
There are too many names of loved ones on this list.
But it is God's Will that they appear here to see.
Like the changing colors of Autumn's leaves,
There is a season and a time for all things.
Our time is continually drawing near,
our souls draw nearer to Thee.
Our hearts are drumbeats on
the march to Heaven.