My mom passed away 18 days ago. Complete shock; I am still in denial. She was “healthy as a horse” and never got sick. If she did, she’d be better in a day or so, and we never worried about her. She also hadn’t been to a doctor in 20 years, so when she started with what appeared to be “pneumonia,” we had no idea it was from a massive heart attack. She didn’t even know she’d had one, liquid had built up on her lungs from the heart failure. She spent seven days in the ICU with several surgeries, machines pumping for her heart, having to be shocked back to life multiple times. At one point they told us that on the way to a surgery she was dead for 35 minutes, whilst a hero nurse beat on her chest, until she returned. The left side of her heart gave out. Four stents. V fibs. Thirty four different medicines pumped through IVs and ultimately ports. We thought the hardest part was going to be deciding if we put her on the heart transplant/donor list and maybe only getting another 10-20 years with her. We did not imagine that walking in there the morning before she died, that the doctors would tell us that her kidneys have been shutting down, her liver in shock, and they would be telling us she wasn’t going to last the surgery, or the day. My dad and I were the only ones there early that morning, and we collapsed into each other. I know that we were blessed to have time with her. We were blessed to know what it was that she died from. We were blessed to fight with everything we had for her. We were blessed to say I Love You and Goodbye. She could have died all by herself in her little home and we would never had known so many things or been able to have that time. But now, my sisters and brother and I have no mom. My dad has no wife. Our kids have no grandma. I am sure someday I’m going to be able, or will need to, write about this ordeal to be able to process it, but today is not that day. Today I am going to finish this glass of tequila and curl into my bed in a way that leaves me unaware that I am now motherless. Oblivious to the fact that everyone has gone back to their lives and I am sitting here in disbelief without being able to see my monitor through my tears. I don’t even want to write these words: death, dead, passed, gone, dead. Fuck this. It’s just not fair. In the whirlwind that has been these last 18 days, we have been sorting through bills to help my dad find a semblance of order to the bill paying system my mom took with her in that beautiful head of hers, cleaning out storage units that were filled with everything she needed for the dream home of hers, and planning a freaking “celebration of life” that was enough to keep me distracted and apparently mildly immune to the grief that has been seeping in drip by drip. Now that the distraction is gone, I am at a loss. We put on a phenomenal event for my mom. People I haven’t seen in decades surprised us and came to the service. Dear friends from the old neighborhood. Globetrotters who loved my mom. All kinds of family. Childhood friends of hers. And ours. We planned a rather long service and everyone got to give input. Cousins took over the mundane details leaving me free to help plan the speeches, the details and order, and assist dad in writing the eulogy. I had shared a blog that I’d written last Mother’s Day in the waiting room of the ICU with my extended family, the night we were deciding if mom was going to be okay with living with tubes coming out of her chest and replacing batteries every eight hours, and my family encouraged me to read it at the service. It was beautiful, but it wasn’t *quite* what I wanted to say to express who my mom was. She had read it last year and loved it; “ugly cried” she said, while sitting at her favorite restaurant when I had sent her the link. I had ideas floating in my head during my miserable, sleepless nights, and I began to jot notes. I thought I would write an intro explaining the blog, but ultimately, what I wrote became longer. Two days before the service I asked my baby sister, who just had a baby 5 weeks before mom died (another blog entirely), to meet me on my lunch break from work, and listen to this new thing and help me decide if I should bag it all, mix them together, or decide between the two. She said she loved the new thing, and how about I take some of my favorite parts from the previous blog and work them into the new speech. I did. What resulted was something that both horrified me (really, my mom’s fucking funeral?!?!?), and calmed me, because I felt I had captured a part of the essence of my mom. On Saturday, May 5th, or as we prefer to call it, Cinco de Mayo, we came together to say goodbye to my mom and drink margaritas with our aforementioned loved ones. The service was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It should have been a 50th wedding anniversary party for my parents (they had spent 43 together). It was decorated with my mom’s storage unit goodies, and felt just like something she would have put together. I. Hate. Public. Speaking. I would rather eat oysters, wear shorts, clean toilets – you catch my drift. The only reason I did this was because it became my mission to make sure everyone in the world knew who this inconceivable woman was. The room was full of like 5000 people, easy. My voice shook with the sadness and hurt, and my eyes were filled with tears the entire time, but I am so proud of the way it played out. I have received more compliments on this than on almost anything else I’ve ever created (except maybe my entirely too perfect 20 year old). I have read this speech probably thirty times in the last three days since the service. I get a feeling from it that makes me remember what my mom felt like. I hope you feel her when you read it, she was the world to me.
Read speech here.
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