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Motherless Day

May 13, 2007

In the days after my mother died so many of her friends, my friends, relatives and family I barely knew called me to say how sorry they were. Each time someone called I felt compelled to repeat the tedious details of my mother’s hospital ordeal, her brief recovery and speedy decline ultimately resulting in her death. Different variations of the same story for many people. Its length and amount of detail varied upon who it was I was talking with and how tired I was of telling the story that particular day. Repeating details included how she pulled away from me seeming so distant and angry but how she embraced my husband and that I was grateful she could find comfort in someone even if it was not me. Her doctors were amazing and kind. My false hope of recovery and my return to Cape Cod to finish my semester quickly so I could return to help her when she got out of the hospital. The phone call with her doctor who hung up on me saying quickly that he needed to go and it was my mother. No goodbye just a dial tone. I quickly called back to speak with a nurse who told me my mother had stopped breathing and they were trying to help her. Also that I should come if I could. My frantic ride with my good and kind friend Mary who didn’t say anything for the drive to the airport. I can’t even remember what airport I flew out of and don’t remember anything until I was in my mother’s best friends car driving once again to the hospital. When I got there she was covered up to her chin because her bodily fluids were leaking out of her skin. She was conscious and I was close to her face crying and my tears dropped on her face. I repeated how much I loved her and I was only crying because I loved her and I was okay. She was okay. And I was so sorry this was happening. I asked her if she knew I loved her and although she had a tube in her mouth so she could breath she purposefully blinked looking me in the face. I was so frightened and felt like something was crushing me. I couldn’t stand there and look at her. I stood up and she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She waited for my husband to arrive and she died. She let go and was just gone. Friends of hers that had come to the hospital put there arms around me and I told them to go away please. So many people were crying. They told me I needed to call a funeral home to come and get her. I called a number someone gave me and I don’t even know what I said. I know I arranged for the funeral. I know I went to the cemetery. We had her funeral. We buried her in a blue and white ginger jar she loved and that had sat in her front window on Wheeling Street. I stayed behind and took care of things. I sent my husband home to our animals because I had been gone for a month in total and although they were well cared for I missed them and wanted him home. I wanted to be alone. Every night I went to bed, in my mothers bed and dreamed of her. She smelled like White Linen, Doublemint gum, cigarettes and Avon hand cream. Her hair was soft and shiny brown silk. Her teeth were slightly crooked in the front and she hated the bump on her nose. Her tiny size 5 feet. Her soft brown eyes. Her voice. Her cough. Her medicine smell.

I don’t know why I felt compelled to tell people over and over again. It was not as though they asked me. No one said, so how did she die? What exactly happened? Some asked why didn’t she get better? Or they didn’t know she was that sick and were surprised. She was so young, only 52. Did I know? Was I okay?

I think I wanted to tell it over and over again and even now as I tell it for the umteenth time I wonder if it will ever seem real? I guess repeating it, the last of what it was to have a mother, makes her existence before seem more real. I feel like the baby bird in P.D. Eastmans, “Are You My Mother?” waking up out of their egg declaring, “I did have a mother. I did.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 13, 2007 3:17 pm

    I’m crying and so sorry. I wish I had known your mother, but I feel like I do a little from things you say and write and who you are. I was thinking of you this morning and hoping this day wouldn’t be too hard for you. I can’t imagine that loss. I love you.

  2. May 16, 2007 5:18 am

    Sorry, dear. It’s never easy, is it?

    XOXO

  3. May 23, 2007 3:46 am

    I would think it won’t make it real. It will just become the story, which is real. You know…?

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