Last August 7th, (it will be a year ago this Thursday) I lost my mom. My mind says she’s so much better off there, than the condition she had to endure here, and that we WILL be reunited someday, and that she is still a big part of my life and I feel her presence with me everyday. My heart still aches for the physical attachment we had though, and that’s the part I still struggle with in my mourning of her.
The way she looked at me, held my hand everywhere we went, and kissed my hand while she held it. Shopping, talking, advising and complaining are all absent in my daily activities now. Hugging all 4’11″ of her, hearing her laugh, the smell of her home, I feel like someone who has lost a limb, and still feels it’s there, although they know it’s absent forever.
I was fortunate enough to be given the gift of being her caregiver- even with the lack of sleep, becoming severely anemic, and daily pressure of making the decisions for her that she would have wanted most and wondering what the day was going to bring, and was this going to be the day she leaves my side? Care giving is the transitional world that you enter when you realize that the life you used to know with that person is gone, and you know the inevitability of where you’re going- so every moment in between is your whole world.
The outside world holds no meaning at that time, and if you go out in it, it’s like you’re floating among other people. You don’t really see them, or hear them, because your focus is getting back to your loved one and wallow in every magical moment you have with them. Mom was a singer too, even had a CD made once, and she loved Dan. I took her and my Dad to see him in concert and we had tickets to see him in Clearwater, FL again when his health had become too difficult to continue the strain of touring. She would ask about him from time to time because she knew how much I enjoyed his music and was hoping for a recovery.
Her “favorite” guy was Luciano Pavarotti, (yes we are Italian!) She had met him, and even been to his home in Italy a while back. Ironically, she has both of them there with her now….Shortly before she passed, she had a “visit to the other side” one day while I was at her bedside. I started looking around the room myself, because it was clear she was seeing things that I didn’t see. Luckily, there were two other girls in the room with me to validate that I wasn’t completely out of my mind. She described the beautiful scene to us, and the people she saw (mostly family members, but even people we didn’t know and a small animal or something that she was trying to coax from behind an object).
The beautiful flowers, an angel, a beautiful house, the singing, it all went on for about 30 minutes. She even tried to call to them and was very happy to see that certain family members “made it”. After that, she did not wish to hear any music that we played regularly in her room. But she did have some conversations with my dad, and her cousin(s) who had passed years earlier, as she listened intently and spoke to them via her pillow.She even sent a message to me from my dad, and a message to our cousin that the cousin that she was speaking to knew of a coming birth. She told me things she felt I needed to hear before she left, and asked if I was happy, and thanked me for all I had done for her.
At other times, particularly at night, she would still see her parents and brothers that had passed at the foot of her bed comforting her. It was an intense, intriguing, marvelous experience that will never leave me or those that shared it with me. I know it gave her the peace she needed to leave and the comfort to go to what was ahead. And for me, there’s no doubt as to where I believe she is, and who’s she with- and how she feels. That should be consoling enough for me, but as I am of this world, the caregiving I gave my mom, although I would have it NO other way, completely drained all physical and emotional energy from me. I sometimes feel as though when her soul left, she took most of mine with her and the only physical connection that is left, are her possessions that I keep close to me.
I consider myself in a rebuilding process- my physical strength, emotional balance, and pathway to my future. I want to be the wonderful example of a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend that my mom taught me by her own example. And enjoy the ride and the view that life has to give me, everyday.
Bless all you caregivers out there!