When someone loses a parent, a part of your life is forever changed. A void is ever present. Today marks one year since my own parent, my mom, went to Heaven. This time last year my sister and I were goofing around in the ICU room while Mom was in a medically induced sleep. We had stayed the night with her and were hoping for her breathing tube to be removed. They had tried to remove it the day before, but she wasn't quite ready. We were very hopeful that day. Then her nurse had some bad news. She had an infection. And it was spreading throughout her body. Her body wasn't responding well to the tube. And she would need dialysis for the rest of her life. Something she never wanted. Not only that, but she had c. diff. The only chance she had was having a surgery to place a tracheostomy, and because there was no facility around here to care for her, she would have to go to St. Louis, or maybe even Indianapolis. Far away from family. There was no guarantee she would even survive the surgery, and in all likelihood, she wouldn't.
Around noon, they woke her up for us to talk to her. We, as well as her doctor, and her nurse, explained her choices. And she kept motioning for us to take out her tube. We asked if she was ready to go to Jesus. She shook her head, yes she was ready. We made the heartbreaking phone call to family. They waited to remove the tube until our brother, step dad, and husbands came. Her brothers and their wives came, her niece and nephew came. My niece and nephews came to say good bye. My kids did not come, they couldn't come into the ICU because of their ages, and I didn't want them around all of the sadness. Friends came or called to say good bye.
I can't really remember what time the tube was removed. I just remember laughing and trying to be happy. And remembering. And singing with her. And praying. And then she went to sleep. So we went out to stretch and use the bathroom. But her nurse called us back. We ran back to the room. Just in time. At 3:35, she went to sleep and never woke up. It oh so peaceful. And so very sad.
And now, a year later, it seems like yesterday. As the days go by, in some ways it seems to get easier. You get used to not having her there to call or talk to, or share what funny thing the kids said or did. At the same time, I still want to pick up the phone and call her. Tell her I love her. Share the day to day struggles of being a mother and wife. So now I have a new normal. One that doesn't have my mom in it. Which is so hard. What hurts the most, is the kids are slowly beginning to forget. I am trying my hardest to keep her memory alive for them, but it is so hard. It is still hard for me to talk about, and because of that, it is hard for me to share stories and talk about her with my kids.
Grief is a funny thing. This past year, I have went through so many emotions. In nursing school, you learn all about the stages of grief. For the first few months, it was like Mom was on vacation. She would be back. She wasn't gone forever. When I would go to her home, I would get butterflies and think "maybe she will be here today". Realistically, I knew she wasn't there. But before you remember, oh yeah, she's dead, your mind tricks you. And you believe for a few seconds she is home. By Thanksgiving, I was cycling through the anger, bargaining, and depression stage. Very quickly. One minute I was angry and blaming anyone I could. The next I was bargaining, what if we would have signed her out AMA from the nursing/rehab facility that Sunday? What if I would have taken better care of her? What if I had her move in with me, instead of letting her go to the rehab place? And then depression. The crying, sadness, and numbness. And then I would be right back at anger or maybe bargaining. Or maybe all three.
I'm not exactly sure when it happened. But at some point, I accepted that she died. I know she isn't coming back. I know she is in a better place. I know she is surrounded by her loved ones who went before her. And I know that someday I will see her again. I hope it isn't too soon. I am grateful that I had 25 years. And I am so glad that I had a mother that I could look up to and learn from. And that my kids had a grandmother who loved them. I am sure I will miss her every day for the rest of my life. I am still sad that she isn't here to see my kids and nephews and nieces grow up. And that she won't meet any future children we may have, but who knows, maybe she already knows them?
One thing that has happened this past year, I found a great God. I always knew he was there. But I just figured as long as I did okay with my life, asked for forgiveness every once in a while, I was golden. But I was wrong. I am striving to live my life, so that when my time comes, I will be ready for Heaven. I will be ready for my mom to welcome me Home and introduce me to Jesus.