My mom died on 3/12.

I don't remember the last time we talked.  I'm sure I was impatient and sad and frustrated during the call.  I am sure I wished things were different.  I'm sure I cried about the call.  We texted.  We said I love you, and meant it.  But we were estranged in that I hadn't seen her in 17 months and didn't speak on the phone for most of that time.  I didn't even talk to her on my birthday when she called at 12:12 like she did every year.  It was a conscious choice.

My family of origin was and is complicated.  It was unhealthy and dysfunctional and took me years to navigate a path toward a healthy way of living.  That path led to me distancing myself from them over those 17-18 months and she let me have that.  She reached out from time to time and I responded without engaging in the negative/unhealthy back and forth.

She loved me and I loved her.  She wanted more and better for herself but was unable to make the choices necessary.  I struggle with guilt that maybe I didn't do enough to offer alternatives.

I do believe that she did her best, she did what she thought was best, what she was capable of doing.

She provided for my brother and I.  She gave us the gift of education and a belief that we could accomplish whatever we wanted.  She worked very hard to ensure we had the material things we needed and then some.  She even spoiled us in many ways.

What was lacking was the feeling of being safe, the innocence of childhood, and time together.  What was lacking was the feeling of being cared for on an emotional level.  The term "parentalized" has come up over the years in therapy.

She was admitted to the hospital on a Monday night, I went first thing Tuesday not knowing just how critical it was.  I thought it was going to be like the previous hospitalizations.  I was wrong.  She was in a crummy hospital with amazing nurses but was thankfully transferred to a much better hospital the next day, unfortunately that meant she was even more critical.  Her heart failed twice, they brought her back.

As she lay in the hospital bed, on the one day that week that I felt her presence, that I believe she was somewhat aware, I spoke to her.  I told her I loved her, that I was so sorry she was in so much pain.  I told her that she was a good mother and that I am who I am because of her.  She always told me how proud she was of me and how much she loved me, and so I returned that love to her.  I combed her hair, moisturized her arms, legs, hands and feet.  I read her Anne of Green Gables which she loved.  I watched movies on TMC with her.  But... it doesn't feel like it was enough.  I had a week with her in the hospital during which she was never conscious enough to speak.  It wasn't enough for me, how could it have been enough for her? I wanted to ease her suffering.  I wanted to rewind and force her to make different choices so she had a better life without so much pain, fear, and suffering.  I want so much to be different.

I kept telling her that if she wanted to fight, I'd fight for and with her, they she wouldn't have to go back to what had been, that I would help her. I also told her that it was okay to let go, to go and find peace and relief from her body that was failing and her life that was a constant struggle.  I said things I thought she needed to hear.

I was present with her, I was mindful, I was there.

It was the only day her eyes seemed somewhat responsive for about 30 minutes, and she looked at me, looked to the tv then to me again; she was present and I think she heard me.  I felt desperation from her, and it broke my heart.  The whole week broke my heart.

They had to increase the sedation because she was struggling with the breathing tube and that was that, she didn't open her eyes again.

We had two more days there, but it didn't feel like she was there.  The doctors kept pushing, making changes, and even did a surgery that felt like too  much.  She started spiking a fever. Ultimately the surgery was too much, she was septic, and at 4:15 AM on Sunday morning my phone rang.  The doctor said that we should come to the hospital, that it was not going to be long.

Johnny, Christy and I were there.  We sat with her.  We held her hands.  Christy prayed.  I told her it was okay.  We told her she was loved and appreciated.  I told her it was okay to let go.   They took her off the respirator and she struggled for a little, they increased the sedative to make her more comfortable, and around 8:30 she finally let go.  I had one hand, Johnny had the other and Christy had her hand on mom's head.  She was surrounded by love and quiet energy.  She stopped breathing.  She looked so small.

I know this is very personal, but I feel it is a story that needs to be told.  I want more of her story to be told, but I am not there yet.  I will be, eventually,  and I will tell it.


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