If someone had asked me when I was 10 how old my mom would be when she died, I'd have said 80 or 90 or some "reasonable" number. And I guess it is from the same mentality that I can honestly say that, at 54, mom's death has been an unbelievable and unnerving tragedy for me.
You might wonder if she had an unexpected illness that would explain the all-too-early departure she made. The answer is no. My mom had years of poor health. Both an alcoholic and a chain smoker, mom had years in and out of re-hab, of depression and poverty. She had 2 heart attacks, a stroke, lung cancer (which eventually metastasized throughout her body) high blood pressure, and countless other obstacles. She didn't eat right. She drank, in spite of this, with her medication. And you wonder why I can't believe she's gone??
With how I have described her, you may envision a wretched, maybe even abusive, horrible person. But please don't. My mom was an always-caring mom--about me that is. She was always supportive of me while I was in school. She stuck up for me when I maybe wasn't always worthy--picking fights when as a teenager when I should have kept my mouth shut. She was a fabulous artist, though the closet-variety. Few knew of her talent. She sketched pictures that seemed so real you could smell the grass and feel the warm air in the summer landscape she translated to paper. She was incredibly smart and had a rapier wit, not all too unlike my own...or should I say mine was much like hers. She had a wonderfully varied and interesting collection of music in her tiny one room apartment. Everything from Janis Joplin to Bread to Enya to the Barenaked Ladies. Her open mind was perhaps her best trait.
When I got married in 1996, my mom was saddened as she knew she had to share me with someone else. And over the course of the next 5 years, she and I would share great joy (the birth of my daughter) and great pain (her near-death in each of her last three years and then finally her conclusion in
2001). As the heartache wore on, I begged God to take her from me, as I wasn't sure I could handle much more. And yet, when God took her, not only was I heartbroken, but I also couldn't believe it was all over. The one person I knew my whole life and who knew me and loved me anyway was gone.
I should have seen it all coming. I knew her death was imminent. Yet I hid behind my disbelief thinking that would shield me from the truth.
If anyone reads this and has had a similar experience, please know you are in my prayers. The incredible grief I feel for the loss of my mom is only surpassed by the grief I feel for having denied myself the opportunity to deal with the loss of my mom while I still had her here. All of my life, I have gone to my mom with the problems I just couldn't solve or the fears I just couldn't shake. And here I am with the worst pain and suffering I have had in my life, and I have had much, and I have no clue as to how to get past this one.
My mom, despite her inner torture, was a very selfless and caring mom and friend. I only wish I could tell her now. I will never quit loving her and praying to see her again one day.