Thursday, June 18, 2009

558 Days

My mother has been gone for 558 days.
I was flipping through the channels yesterday and ended up on Oprah and as I watched I came to a realization.
I hadn't watched Oprah for 557 days.
Or Dr. Phil, or Judge Judy or As the World Turns or any of the shows I once watched.
I always just thought I had grown tired of tv but really what happened was that I didn't have anyone to call and discuss the shows with.
And they were too painful to watch.
But I just quit watching and never gave it a thought.
Until yesterday.

I have always loved going to Target, especially with my mom, but now when I go I hurry and get what I need and get out.
I might have gotten a popcorn and an Icee twice and I think I was with my sister when I did.
There wasn't a Starbucks in Target when mom was alive.
We always had our popcorn and Icee and maybe a Diet Coke too.
We always strapped our purses into the baby seatbelt so we could leave them in the cart if we turned our backs and nobody could grab them and run.
We always looked at the makeup for an unreasonably long time and discussed what would make us astonishingly gorgeous. We looked at shoes and bags and candles and yard furniture.
We rubbed soft towels on our cheeks and looked for great summer tops.
We discussed the finer things in life like if Tide and Downy used together make the best smelling laundry in the world (they do) and what type of dog treats would be good for dog breath.
We looked at shampoo and soap and tampons and books and magazines.
Ahhhh magazines.

My mother had every magazine under the sun and we would actually fight over who got to read the People first.
I blame her for my magazine addictions.
I like Us better these days. People is good but again my brain remembers the good times and got pushed away too.

My mom never saw the house we live in.
She was suffering from congestive heart failure when I called her on my way to work (she had been in and out of the hospital and we were hoping she would be home by Halloween and then Thanksgiving) and was telling her about the house we were looking at. The big yard, the basement and the columns out front.
"It looks like all the mansions we always drooled over, I can't wait for you to see it!"
She said (out of breath because of all the fluid around her lungs) "you don't need that big house, your house is perfectly beautiful" (it was 1600 sq. feet and too small but it was beautiful)
"Oh, mom, it is too small and we have outgrown it"
I told her I loved her and I would call after work and that was it.
I didn't call because it was 10:00 when I left the restaurant and she was in the hospital so I figured she was asleep by then.
I never heard her voice again.
I got the call in the early hours the next morning from my sister that she had heart failure and she had been deprived of oxygen for too long before they did CPR and she was brain dead.
I dropped the phone and dropped to my knees and sat in the dark staring at the wall and imagining what I would pack and if my car had gas or if I would need to shower first.
I don't remember anything else.
(There was much more before that but I was 4 hours away and my sisters were the sole caregivers for much of the time. All of the months she was sick.
I guess I thought if I wasn't there, it wasn't real. Stupid, I know.)
Except sitting in the hospital room and staring at her with her eyes open but they were tracking side to side or up and then down and it reminded me of a brain damaged child that I had seen somewhere that never focused. The eyes just rolled, and we tried to get her to focus on us and she seemed to hear us and we thought she was responding but really it was all but over and it was wishful thinking.
And it was the most sickening, painful thing to watch and I had to leave and sit alone in a far off waiting room because I wanted to sob and scream and shake her awake and get the hell out of there and take her to Target so she would wake up and just sniff body wash and buy mascara and eat popcorn.
Because I thought that if we could get her out of there, she would be better.

The days went by and the BS that the doctors dished out was too much and I finally got them together and asked if she was anywhere in there.
1% brain activity. No. She is a vegetable. (paraphrasing)
How long can she be like this?
Weeks or months.
We got together (my 3 sisters and brother and myself, and decided to take her off the ventilator and when we did, she breathed on her own for a long time.
We had nasty fights with the nurses when care wasn't given as we saw fit and had her moved to a Palliative Care unit where we were left alone in our grief and insanity.
We held her hand, slept next to her bed and in her bed, played with her hair and talked to her.
We talked about stupid things and while my sisters had their husbands/ boyfriends there to lean on, I chose to keep mine at home so I could be the strong one. (he hated that and it was a big mistake on my part)
I was anything but.
She left this world surrounded by the people she loved (my sister and I had run home to shower and she died seconds before we walked in the room) but she had not really been there for awhile.
She was loved.
She is loved.
We all have our days when the pain is too much to bear and the memories are so clear.
They are different for each of us.
And I really miss her every day and today is especially bad because I want to talk to her and I can't remember her voice as well as I used to and I want to go to Target and rub towels on my face and talk about The Young and the Restless and how annoying Nikki and Sharon are and how cute my puppy is and how my son got a job and how he made it into 6 different colleges and how the other one is leaving for Tennessee tonight to go to church camp and how damn lonely I am right now.
558 days.
It feels like yesterday.


  1. Oh... my heart breaks for you. I'm so sorry for your loss and your pain. Beautifully written.

  2. My heart goes out to you, growing up shopping with my mom was one of our favorite things to do together. My mom is the one I call to tell everything to. Now she lives 13 hours away, I hardly get to see her. I work with alot of women that have lost their moms. They are constantly telling me to get home and see her, moms aren't forever. My heart broke when reading this as my mom has been sick lately, it makes me thankful I will see her soon. I will be sure to hug her just a little bit tighter and longer than usual, for all the daughters that have lost their moms. I can't imagine how painful this is for you, thank you for sharing it.

  3. Such a beautiful post. I am so sorry.


  4. Beautiful and painful... Thank you for sharing your heart. Earlier I was thinking of the day my brother died and how weird and surreal it was to drive away from the hospital. He was there and then he wasn't. Uncanny that so much of your post feels so familiar. The hardest part of the loss of my brother has been not having him be a part of my daily life and now him not being here to be an uncle to Little One and Little, Too.

  5. I am sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you feel, I miss my mom everyday!

  6. If it helps, I have been missing Mom so much lately too. I'm not sure why, but lately has been hard for me too. When you come here in a few days we will have a good, drunken cry at 3:00 AM in my garage or back patio.

  7. I think we should gather at my house and listen to some Barry Manilow and Anne Murray! It's been too long since we've done that. We need a good bawling session.

  8. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it.

  9. I guess i miss her so much more because it is summer and everything is warm and sunny. And Alive. And she isn't.

  10. This is a beautiful post. My relationship with my mom sounds almost exactly like your relationship with your mom. I can't imagine how hard it would be if she wasn't in my life. Though I can't relate to your loss, I can relate to the depression. It's so hard sometimes. But it sounds like you have an amazing family who will always be there to support you. You're in my thoughts, sister!


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