And then

You usually don’t know it’s the biggest day of your life when it’s happening. My brain stored her last 24 hours in choppy fragments.

Crying with Dad in the waiting room at an ungodly early hour after hearing there was nothing left to do, and then calling my siblings one by one to come and say goodbye.

Karissa—our baby, who just had her first baby—falling to her knees once she arrived and being wrapped in Dad, then us kids.

After they took out her breathing tube and lowered her medicines, Mom waking up and licking her mouth, eyes closed and nodding as the doctors explained to her what hell was unfolding.

The hours in that room with her, waiting, telling her all of the things we should’ve told her every hour of every day.

When asked if she had any words of wisdom, she said, “Be all you can be. Don’t act small. I’ll be with you always. Listen for me.”

Realizing it could take hours or days or weeks, we hobbled together a sleeping schedule which sent Dad and me home around midnight.

Returning at 5:30am and pausing to stare at the sky looming over the hospital in deep purples and navy and pink.

Kim reading us some of the sad and hilarious things Mom said throughout the night, like, “I thought I had forty more years. I wanna be a crotchety old bitch.”

Dad crying, unconsolably, imagining this going on for days and days. And then.

I don’t have words to describe how bad it felt. Like the pain should have just carried me out of my body and taken me with her. She was enveloped and told she could go, we’d be okay. Lying, to my mother. I managed a thousand more “I love yous” before her final breath, since it was a horrifyingly long process.

And then an eery calm, like the eye of a storm, that allowed us to call family, pack up her belongings, leave a love note for all the incredible staff who keep calm amidst lives shattering, every day.

No, you usually don’t know it’s the biggest day of your life when it’s happening, but after this all, we stood in that parking lot without a clue of what to do next, and looked around at the cars and people, and buildings beyond that, and couldn’t fathom how this wasn’t the most life-altering day for them either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s