The Day Before Mother’s Day

It has been four years since my mother passed away, but somehow it does not seem that long. The years have simply gone by in a flash although the first days after it happened were very difficult. It seemed that time moved rather slowly- painfully slow, and later on time began to fly and the next thing I knew, I had made it through the first year with my sanity somewhat still in tact.  Her birthday was on Dec. 13, my youngest son was born on Jan. 13, and she passed on Feb. 13…strange…I normally am not a ‘numbers’ person, but  the number thirteen has become quite significant to me now.

I thought that I would be sad and depressed when this time of year rolled around but that is not the case. The death of my parents had always been my greatest fear in not knowing whether I would be there to actually witness their last breath…I was not there although I had been with them both the day before.

The mind can be a very strong force in one’s life especially when that person is unwilling to face reality due to their greatest fear. I literally watched my parents dying gradually each day for many months but even up until the last day that I saw my mother in the hospital, and despite the telling dreams that I had which I assume were for the purpose of preparing me for the inevitable, my mind simply ‘put it away’ of course until it happened. An unnatural calm came over me as I casually informed my husband and then seven-year old daughter that momma was dead. That is how I said it – calm voice, “Momma is dead, I need to go to the hospital.” All while I hand pumped enough milk for my 4-week-old during my absence. Despite the reports from nurses that she would be okay, I still knew deep down that she would not leave that hospital as she came in. How does one know and not know at the same time? Well, I did. A couple of days beforehand, I was on the phone with her and my oldest sister. She was talking gibberish, (which was really big hint) that I ignored, and suddenly completely coherent, she told my sister good-bye. Then she went back to the gibberish talk and a chill went down my spine when she called out to her own mother and brother saying, “I’m ready!” My heart sank. And there was total silence on the phone for some time before my sister who was in the room with her took the phone and we hung up – my hands shaking like a leaf.

I am having a really hard time writing this. At first I was not going to write a Mother’s Day post, but something keeps telling me to do it through silent tears and despite this cruel discomfort that I didn’t even know I had. I guess it is to make a point and to help myself understand what has lain dormant in my heart for some time. Maybe it will help someone else too.

Several months before her transition, I had a dream (one of many) that let me know what would happen eventually. Both of my parents were plagued with health problems. My father lay helpless in the VA while my mom struggled but was still somewhat active. She was still walking, talking, etc., still  functioning with the exception of those days when nothing was normal. (another hint) Anyway, the dream went like this…I am holding my moms hand, my oldest sister is holding my father’s hand and we are high up on some type of platform (it was blue) and felt like those inflated moonwalkers and slides that kids play on.

I still don’t know what that meant, but we were surrounded by clouds and blue skies overhead although we seemed to be inside of somewhere. Mom and I seemed to be in a hurry as we were jogging along trying to get to this wooden door, so I looked back to see that my sister and dad had come through the door behind us. All of a sudden as mom and I are right in front of this door, she wriggled her hand out of mine (I was holding very tightly) and she said, “I’m here now, I gotta go!” The door opened, she ran through, I saw clouds and blue skies, and the door quickly closed in my face. I could hear my dad struggling on the unstable platform as he tried to run…my sister was holding his hand and I grabbed the other. Upon reaching that same door that my mom went through, it opened again as my sister and I still holding his hands swung him into the clouds and the door closed. I looked down to see that there was a clear place on the platform and as I looked through it, I could see my other three sisters standing there. I don’t know what they were saying. I woke up. My parents died 4 months apart… I call both of their dying days their ‘new birthdays’.

I can’t help but think that she decided to go first because she simply could not bear to watch my dad die as he did. If he got sick, she did too and vice versa. One could not fall without the other, but after over fifty years who would?

For many weeks afterwards, I continued to have a series of extremely realistic dreams so much that upon awakening, I had to remind myself that my parents were no longer on this earth, (It still happens to this day) but that night at the hospital when my daughter and I went to see my mother’s body (I didn’t know whether to take her or not, but she was not taking no for an answer), I combed her hair for the last time, cried, and my daughter sang a song as the family stood around saying their last words. Once home and in bed, I was freezing and my husband held me in a fierce embrace contemplating the ‘breakdown’. It didn’t happen. I actually began to go back and forth – dozing and waking right back up. I distinctly remember not being completely asleep when the strangest thing happened. Lost in thought about how to go to tell dad (he seemed to already know), I felt my mom’s hand cupped on the side of my face like one does when preparing to whisper a secret. She spoke directly into my ear (not a whisper – I heard clearly) saying, “I wanted to go, now you handle it.” Of course I called out to her, “Momma?!” She sounded as if she was in a hurry. “You heard me…I wanted to go now you handle it from now on!” I immediately awoke my snoring husband to tell him what had just happened…he understood, I thanked God and slept peacefully with no dreams.

I made the arrangements with some help from my siblings…the funeral was beautiful…not much standing room it was so full…I kept checking the side mirror en route to the burial and never did see the end of the line up which practically wrapped around the entire cemetery.

A lot happened in the days that followed. After two weeks, the breakdown came, but I recovered quickly as I heard my little girl awake. I am sure that her songwriting began in order to make her way through her pain, and she has the voice of a songbird. We talk often, because I know that she was unable to grasp the true meaning of what happened. She was the strongest little soldier ever until they closed the casket. I heard my baby say that she didn’t want them to close the box on Dorothy Doll (That was her nickname for her grandma as Baby Doll  the nickname given to her by my mom.) I didn’t hold her when she began to cry…she covered her little face with the program and let her tears flow although she was quiet. I froze – unable to comfort my own child as she leaned on my sister. I felt like such a failure right then and this still bothers me now. Herein lies ‘my help’  the true purpose for this post. I feel as if I abandoned her that day and she has never gotten over it although she has never said anything about it, but I know what I have to do now. We have to cry together because I don’t think that has ever happened. I have tried to be strong for her, but I feel now that this was a mistake. I  realize now that in my attempts to be strong, I am turning to stone…could it be that I am trying to keep my own pain at bay? She was extremely close to my parents but she is able to open up more now that she is a bit older…she dreams now. I thank my mom for that.

My mother had written two poems that she wanted included on her funeral program…I will be sure to post them. She was quite the poet and I thank her for passing that down to me.

I made it through the post. I guess that  my purpose for it was to say that I owe my daughter an apology and that I don’t actually feel that emptiness that people talk about when a loved one dies. Yes, I know that I cannot hug, kiss, or talk on the phone with her daily as we did before, but in a way, I feel closer to her and dad now than I did while they went through all the sickness. Their better days were already behind them and now their days are complete bliss. Of course I still have sad days, basically from what she and dad went through but my mom was also a dreamer. I thank her for passing that down to me also, and I still tell her Happy Mother’s Day…I truly believe that she hears me.

The latest dream that I had (day before yesterday), we spent the whole day together and she looked beautiful. Once again, I had to tell myself that she is not here. Nevertheless, I am a living witness that ‘weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning’.

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