Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Loss of a hero, best friend, closest confidant...my mom.

It's hard. Sure, death is hard - but somehow knowing it's coming makes the grieving easier, behooves one to spend more time with the-soon-dearly-departed. But when death comes unexpectedly and destroys dreams of future quality time with the loved one - it's brutal.

My mom was in the hospital before her open heart surgery on 29 August and she pulled through that with complications, but her last surgery today (6 September) to get rid of fluids in the lung (usually done by a stint placed in the chest to act like a drain hole) and there was plans that she would be released tomorrow.

Before her surgery, I was lucky to have called her - grateful to my brother to suggest doing so when I called him to see if Mom was up to talking to anyone. I remember thinking after I get finished with college I'd come up to visit.

Well, during her surgery today her heart stopped. They tried to do the crash cart scene, but she was long gone on to Heaven. So when my brother called me with the news, I was shell shocked. I still am if truth be told, for it was suppose to be a simple procedure.

So she went home a day early, but different address then the hospital had on record; it was curious how both me, my husband, and my mother-in-law were thinking she was overdue for a vacation - well, it seems that was remedied by the best place to be for eternity.

I'll admit at the moment it's not enough comfort against the raw feeling of loss. I lost someone I'd try to call every night just to catch up and talk to about things in my life; sometimes it'd take a little coaching and borderline pestering to have my mom tell me about how things were with her - but it was worth it or it'd feel that conversation wasn't a true one for there was no true give and take.

My mom was a true giver, but like any giver they need to sometimes to have someone give back so they don't burn out - I realize I gave back in a small meaningful way though it seems. (I've been told I'm a good listener, but horrible talker due to mispronunciation and such.) I could tell her anything and she did the same.

When I first met her at seven years of age, I was what the case workers thought was prime loony bin material - I made no eye contact, was a boor in social behavior, and preferred my own company than to figure out the dynamics of interacting with others for it was a mystery I didn't get. Sure, some of it is autism traits (as well at the time undiagnosed ADD) and some of it was due to the nasty abuse and neglect I had endured before the State stepped in and took me and my two siblings out of my birth father's custody.

I, with my brother and sister entered that house and asked if we could stay here, if we could call her Mom. The atmosphere there was unlike anything I had seen in other foster homes - here it felt we wouldn't be treated as a means to get money and the sharp contrast between the children they had and 'us' wasn't there. I could say it's the first time I felt what love was actually.

I can't say how many times Mom would talk to me or I'd ask her something only to have her say, "Eyes on me, not over my shoulder. I'm right here in front of you." Or her explaining why what I did was tactless or rude and what would've been appropriate response was. I was bullied through out elementary and middle school, she was the one that listened to me, wiped my tears and got involved with the teachers and principal to try to correct the problem.
  
I remember Ms. Burke in middle school saying part of the problem was the 'sign' I wore made me a target for I was different. The 'sign' was vibes, I guess. I didn't think being eccentric was bad, but at the time I didn't know how dangerous it could be not to be considered 'normal'. Luckily in high school, there was enough eccentrics present so I wasn't a target - or maybe at this time in my life after a hellish time in a private school for 8th grade I learned to be more assertive and confident so I didn't come across as an easy target.

In fact in high school, the groups were there and in an alcove in the cafeteria I'd meet with other 'eccentrics' and enjoy conversations from Star Trek to Wicca and more. The only one not welcomed was my oldest brother, for he didn't hesitate to tell someone their beliefs were wrong - which killed the conversation and broke the unspoken rule we had. Me? It was common sense, I guess due to lessons from Mom, not to get on a soap box and tell someone they're wrong to think that way. My oldest brother didn't learn that or get Shakespeare's memo or Voltaire's tip either:

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." - Shakespeare

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too." - Voltaire

To be honest, I think Mom taught me about altruism - we volunteered as a family to help out on events, always ready to listen, give advice, and lend assistance. I saw it everyday growing up and heard about it as well when I moved out.

Mom also was the first to accept me as I am - prone to writing than speaking to communicate and tendency to have to write out my thoughts at times to identify my feelings. I tend to do homework listening to music and it was a lengthy process - for my attention would wander but eventually it got done. Proof reading my reports took a bit of time for Mom, for like my attention the topics wandered and Mom had to read over it and often with a chuckle help me order it so it would make sense.

I loved walking on Wash-Away Beach (out near Tokeland, WA) with my mom. There wasn't much conversation due to the ever roaring ocean but we enjoyed being together feeling the cold wind, wet sand, and seeing the waves come in, the landscape constantly moving it seems but at a different pace then we walked.

Going shopping in Westport, to Granny Hazel's shop was a must for their awesome homemade salt water taffy. They made their taffy right in the shop, and they also had the neatest gifts – no trip up in that area was complete until we got to go there.

Mom would drag all of us out to Carpenter's Lake for camping - not only did she really have to load up the van for we had metabolisms of fire; that poor van was also crammed pack with our clothes and toys too. (Five kids to feed at lunch was a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a jar of jam - 5 sandwiches for one, 3 being the lowest it seemed! Not to mention a half gallon of milk too.)

The long road trips to see Uncle Harry and Aunt Cherry up in Tonasket, so far up north it's close to the Canadian border. Those roads through the mountains were scary but breathtaking, then there was the bunny chapel and the Grand Coulee Dam, and the garnet cave Uncle Harry would get permission for us to go to peek around and dig out of the mica some of the gems.

I loved camping growing up - sleeping outside was fine. Just make sure there's a tarp beneath me, another one above me, and plenty of blankets and I'd be snug as a bug in a rug. I remember one Eastern Washington trip, Mom came out the following morning nudging my feet with her foot - she didn't know if I froze or not but was relieved to find out I was fine. In fact I was reluctant to get out of my nice warm cocoon - but had to do that and the bolt to the cabin with frost on the ground for breakfast. During breakfast Mom teased Dad and my brothers who declared the night before they would be 'macho' and sleep outside to give more room for the girls - the only one who braved the night temperatures was a gal. I still chuckle over that.

I know some might want to say what nerve I had to stay home in Swamp East Missouri and not go up when Mom was having her initial surgery; I wavered on that pretty anxiously truth to be told. I called Mom before she had that surgery and she told me to stay home - no point coming up here anxious when I got classes to finish and besides, my siblings can handle what needs to be done. So I did the best I could, still being anxious and distracted due to circumstances is understandable.

However, with her being passing studying for my classes is nigh impossible with the grief. Like rain, when tears fall they clean inside and soothe the pain of loss and as the grief's initial jagged wounds are marks of a violent internal storm on a emotional landscape - they will pass in time.

I miss her, and hope to remember before dialing to call Mom; she's not at that number anymore. Dad is, true, but he wouldn't appreciate the late night call. 

Edited due to grammar mishaps that I didn't catch the other night. 

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