I Do Not Know How to Handle This

Wendy Pietri

I just lost my mother 2 1/2 months ago. She died of breast cancer. We knew the cancer was getting worse, she had had to deal with it for 9 years and it kept coming back. I didn't want to believe she was getting worse. Some ladies who work with my father had gotten together and given him their vacation time so he could be home with my mother monday and tuesday nights up through christmas. I had told him that I would take off as much time as necessary from work to help take care of Mom so she wouldn't be have to go to the hospital. Mom just got so tired. She lost her will--she couldn't work anymore, she couldn't play with my daughter, she couldn't do anything anymore because she was having a hard time breathing. Mom stopped eating. She stopped drinking. I tried to get her to eat, I tried to tell her that she would get better if she started eating, but she couldn't.

I was cleaning her sister's apartment when we got the call from the city police. She gave me the telephone, and my father told me that Mom had died. I think I just shut down then. I had to keep myself in shock or denial until we got over there so I could see her. I remember driving behind such a slow driver, I was on his bumper the whole way over to my parents house. When we got to my parents, I ran out of the car, ran inside, saw some of my family standing around, and then it started to sink in a little. My father came out of the bathroom, where my mother was, seeing him cry, it sunk in a little more. I remember going into the bathroom to see her, and I kept telling her to wake up, wake up, but she wouldn't move.

My whole family was there in a matter of a day or two. It was all a blur of hugs, tears, numbness, in the middle of funeral preparations. Thank God my mother had taken care of just about all the arrangements. My brother, father and I were in no shape to make any major decisions.

I remember the depression the first week or two, especially before the wake and the funeral. Depression so strong it literally bound my arms to my sides. I remember the feeling nothing, the feeling too much, everything. It was so strange being inside my parents house and my mother not being there.

I had taken her for granted for so long that she would always be there, no matter what everyone else tried to tell me. What hurt the most was how sad my father was and how much I didn't want him to feel sad or hurt or lonely.

I remember the last time I saw my mother alive. She had been wanting me to clean her fridge for her, so I brought my daughter over there the thursday before she died, and I thought how small she looked, how weak, how I really wanted her to get past this. I kept bugging her to eat or drink something, but she just looked at me and said, "I asked you to come over to clean the refrigerator, not to bug me to eat. If you're going to keep bugging me, you can leave." So I kept quiet after that. She ws tired and in pain. I can't remember if I told her that I loved her that night or not. I know she was happy that I cleaned the fridge for her. I was going to go over and see her the Saturday that she died, after my daughter's birthday party. But my ex-husband asked if it would be alright if he brought over some birthday cake for my parents, so Kristen could see them for a minute. I'm so glad that my daughter got to see her Nana that day-before she died. I was planning to go the next day to see her.

The holidays were really awful. I wanted to forget Thanksgiving altogether. There was nothing happy or festive or thankful for me. Christmas was strangely a little easier because I have a 7 year old who still believes in Santa Claus, so I needed to make it a good Christmas for her. But there was still a really big ache in me, and I'm not sure if it will ever go away.

My grief has taken me from being numb, to being sad, to being "okay" for a while, and now, at this point, I'm so angry at everyone and everything that I don't know what to do. I'm furious at my best friend, for no real reason, I'm angry at my family, I'm angry at my co-workers. I'm not the kind of person who can disguise her feelings, and I hate having my feelings show, but they do. I'm not sure how long the anger is supposed to last, but I wish it would clear up and leave.

There are moments when I think that my mother isn't in pain anymore, and she's in a better place, and she's okay--i've had waking visions of her, as has my daughter. There are more moments when I refuse to believe the whole thing ever happened. There are many moments when I feel like I am going crazy. I don't wish this pain on anyone. They say grief is a part of life and loving, but it hurts like hell, and maybe it is easier not to love. They also say grief is a very selfish experience, and I'm feeling very selfish right now. I need her to know that I'm so sorry for being a rotten teenager and mouthy and stubborn and bratty and selfish and I understand why she did what she did throughout our lives and I couldn't be the mother I am today if I didn't have the mother I had. I miss her so much. I love her.

Wendy Pietri

You can send email to Wendy Pietri at [email protected]

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Anniversary date - 11-20-99
Date of post - 2-9-00

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