Thursday, March 25, 2010

This is So Weird

"It's so weird." I said, almost to myself as we waited to turn out of the parking lot.  Finally, Greg couldn't take it anymore and said, in semi-irritation, "You keep saying that.  What do you mean?"  I blinked once or twice, as if just waking up.  Really?  Had I been repeating it over and over?  Hmmm, thinking back on it, I guess I had.  I remember saying it a few times.  There's no telling how many times I had actually muttered it in the two plus hours since finding out that Mother had passed away.

To answer Greg's question was complicated.  I never thought she would go out like that.  She was such a fighter, but, in the end, she had a few minutes of distress (according to what I was told) when they were trying to get her up for the day, and then she was gone.  The quiet, quick end to such a tumultuous, long life.  I had seen her the night before, but very briefly.  I had a headache that was bordering on a migraine, so I brought her clean clothes and picked up the soiled ones, and then begged off.  In the few minutes I was there she drifted off to sleep twice, and she was asleep when I walked in, one bite out of her little burger.  In retrospect, I should have worried about that, and I did a little.  But, what actually ran through my mind is to wonder how in the world she was going to handle being at the Senior Olympics this coming Saturday if she couldn't stay awake through dinner.  I had been worried about the Olympic games for a few days now actually.  She had been signed up to participate in a crafts competition, and in general, just to observe the other "games" (wheelchair races, volleyball, I am not sure what else) for four hours this coming Saturday, and I was to take her down to the UT campus, where the City-wide gathering of senior citizens is be held.  I was completely freaked about how to handle her adult diapers, feeding her, and generally making sure it didn't wear her down too much, but she was excited about going, so, for all those worries and my gripes about them, I was going to do it.  Well, that problem is solved, I guess.

If and when I thought about how she was likely to see her final moments, I expected it to be a more drawn out affair.  Not that I wanted that for her, but I just expected her to fight her way out, as she fought with her age and condition over the last several years.  I thought I would be there.  Instead she died without me.  Dad died without me too.  So did Kelsey.  I struggle with that.  I should have been there.  Mother was by Dad's side, but I had left to go home to get the book he had been reading to bring back and read to him, thinking we were in for a long wait.  He had slipped into a coma that morning, and we were on vigil, but in the twenty minutes I was gone, he passed away. I was always sure he somehow chose that, not wanting me to be there.  But, at least he wasn't without family at the end.  Both my daughter and my mother were, and that seems wrong to me; it seems "weird".

I had hoped, to be honest, that I would see in her a final moment of clarity that would allow me to ask her a few things, such as "Why did you choose me?", "Did you know my parents and what were they like?"  I had wanted to tell her thank you, despite all the struggles over the last few years, for choosing me, whatever the reason was, and giving me what she did.  I wanted her to know Marissa would be taken care of.   I wanted her to have the chance to say what she needed to.  Maybe she didn't have a need to say anything.  I'm not sure.  I'll never know.  And, I really wanted to know about the second engagement ring I found among her things when I closed down her apartment.  Dad didn't give it to her, so who did?  The handsome man whose picture is one of the albums?  Or someone else?  I wear the ring on my right hand, it's very lovely, but every time I slip it on, I wonder what secrets it holds.  She's seen it on me and never acknowledged it.  I knew I couldn't ask her and get a reliable answer, but I am so curious.  There were so many things about my parents that I didn't know.  They lived full, complex lives, and they shared only a fraction of that with me, always wanting to seem more pristine, for lack of a better word, in my eyes than they were.  They never understood that I would have loved them more for all their human flaws and foibles.  I like interesting stories, and I think they had many of them locked away in their heads and hearts.  It is weird to know the opportunity to know them on that level is irrevocably gone.

Finally, it's weird that I am without a parent.  I remember, as a girl of 11, watching the final moments of my father's father and thinking to myself, "Now my father is an orphan" and feeling very badly for him.  Now I am an orphan of sorts.  There will be that weird void of not having to balance visiting Mother with mowing the yard, of fighting with her to gain control of her assets so she wouldn't blow them and leave herself destitute.  It's weird to think that she and I alone in the world shared a certain bond of my childhood.  Greg didn't know me then, Mom and Dad's families were across the country, it was just the three of us in Montana.  The other two people who shared that with me, for better and worse, are now gone.

Finally, it was so weird to be so upset at the loss of a woman who had given me such a hard run for the last few years of her life.  You would think it would come as a relief, but it wasn't.  And that was really weird in its own way.  As much as you know this day will come, you are never ready for it when it does.  So, it will be a weird one no matter what.

Last night a violent storm swept over the area, lightning illuminating the night like it was the sun, followed by rolling, angry thunder and roaring winds.  Rain pelted down, slamming against the house.  I watched it from the back porch and wondered who Mother was tearing into up in the heavens.


  1. There are no words. That was amazing. Bless you. Thinking of your storm and your Mom giving someone heck. So visual. I also found myself wanted to track back and read more of your blog. Be well.

  2. I was watching that storm last night and thinking
    about your mom too....only I was thinking that she was just letting everyone know that she was not leaving quietly!

  3. Cheryl, so very sorry for you loss.