My mother passed away on Monday, June 11th, 2012.
I’m having a terrible time writing anything about it. I can talk but I just can’t write so, I’m going to write about that fact until something comes out, no editing later… just spilling it while I wait here for a car inspection and oil change, because yeah, life must go on.
I tried to write the obituary yesterday. Actually, I called the local newspaper assuming someone would walk me through the process but instead, the woman was rude, cut me off and asked me to do it online. I asked if there was a form and she said no and hung up. So… not even a form to guide me through my first obituary.
I looked up some online guides. My dad wanted things simple and sweet. My mom didn’t want a funeral. Her family had turned their backs on her. Her friends had too so, she didn’t want “a bunch of assholes showing up acting like they give a shit.” So a short obituary would be fitting. I started writing the basics and it felt so cheap. No funeral means no real formal tribute to her. This was my only chance and I was at a complete loss of words. Then I remembered that scene from Fried Green Tomatoes when Ruth died of cancer and Sipsey held Idgie and said “You know Miss Ruth was a lady, and a lady always knows when to leave.” I wanted the exact quote so I found that bit of the movie on YouTube and watched it. And then I was crumpled on the kitchen floor sobbing for a while.
I didn’t use the quote. It didn’t feel right. So I decided on “Her strength and grace were unequaled” but I couldn’t find a good word for unequaled so I looked up words in an online thesaurus and sobbed some more. It was finally done, submitted. Okay. That part was over. I still don’t feel like it’s good enough and I guess that’s appropriate because I’m at that stage where nothing I ever did for her feels like it was good enough. Yes, I’m beating the hell out of myself right now. It’s getting better but goddam the guilt is unbelievable.
I never got to say goodbye. I have no idea if she heard me tell her how much I loved her. I was silent with her most of those last 4 hours she was unresponsive, just holding her hand and petting her head.
I’ve never wanted to believe in Heaven more than I do right now. I’m not a religious person but I’m not a staunch athiest either because they know just as little as a religious fanatic does about the certainty of anything. No one truly knows a damn thing about our universe or a god or what’s beyond death. My mom always said our universe was simply a cell in a giant’s wooden chair leg. Okay mom. So strange that my last blog post was about how insignificant we are in the big scheme of things. But yeah, I desperately want to believe that she’s “somewhere” watching over me, with an infinite wisdom you get when you go to that “somewhere” and she’s full of love and forgiveness and she’s guiding me like a guardian angel.
She promised me that she would haunt me after she died and maybe I’m silly but I really wish she would. I wish she would give me a sign… something… like a light breeze against my ear, or a whiff of her perfume, or for something to fall off a shelf when I’m talking to her, because I can’t stop talking to her. I talk to her in my car, in my home when I’m alone, at her home when I’m alone, and in my head every other time. My best friend Angie said maybe she’s in transition. Well, she needs to hurry the hell up because this is some serious weak sauce mom.
The house is so quiet. I’ve continued going there every day from 8-4 like I used to, to keep a semblance of normalcy for my dad. He’s been having a terrible time with this but today was the best day so far. We don’t sit in the house. We sit outside on the deck he built, chainsmoking cigarettes and chugging gallons of coffee. Little sleep, little food, I’ve lost 5 pounds. I feel torn like I had prepared for her death for so long, with her having been bedridden for 12+ years but also like I haven’t had a chance to really mourn yet because I’m having to be strong for my dad and take care of all the stupid formalities.
We had her body taken to a cremation society and I had to go there on Tuesday to make the arrangements. Oh boy. What a bunch of crooks. They wanted me to come immediately but I knew they wanted to get me when I was vulnerable so I waited a day to get a grip. $1000 for a casket to be cremated in? I know some people find comfort in that stuff but my mom, dad and I have always been so pragmatic, this kind of shit would’ve infuriated her. Simple cremation, simple box. She would never tell me where she wanted her ashes scattered so, we’re taking her ashes to her parents’ graves some time next week as soon as we can pick them up. The thought of having her ashes on a shelf really bothers us. They’re not HER. We’re probably not supposed to leave them there, because you have to get permits and stuff but whatever. Suck it. Now, I will have a formal place to go on holidays or any time I need to get away from everything and just be quiet with her. These rituals we do are so strange to me but there is some comfort to formalities at times.
So, I want to tell you all about my mom, her life, and how awesome she was but I just can’t do that right now. I will say that she was hilarious. Seriously, she was adorable. She was my best friend, my confidant. She was the strongest person I have ever met. She hardly ever cried about her situation. She always had a smile on her face. I really don’t know how the hell she did it for so long. Sick and slowly getting worse for 25+ years. She was a rock.
Her illness was really all I knew growing up and yet she still managed to be THE BEST mother a girl could ask for. She always thought I was perfect and beautiful. She was always encouraging and generous to a fault. She always had time for me. Sometimes, I think I didn’t deserve her.
Admittedly, our relationship was codependent as hell and I have no idea what I’m going to do with myself now that I no longer have to take care of her. As resentful as I could feel deep down inside for this whole awful unfair shitty damn disease taking away her life and my freedom and my parents’ ability to have a normal marriage, I would give anything right now to have her back. I would do so many things differently, say so many more loving things, bite my tongue and smile so much more. Trying to intellectualize this, as I’m wont to do, I’ve read that all these guilty feelings are normal and the pain will eventually subside but never go away. I just wish I could have her back for one more day.
I love you mom. I love you completely and with all of my heart. I don’t know what I’m going to do without you.
My mother passed away on Monday, June 11th, 2012.