Tuesday, September 8, 2009
In Her Honor...
She sang it , the words softening into a whisper. “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair…” She laid her head down and drifted off to sleep, the last dose of Morphine pulling her away into dreamland.
For the last 6 months, I had been trying to wrap my head around the idea of life without my mom. She was dying. Her cancer had spread and her once vigorous fight had become a slow waiting game. The three people she had spent her adult life taking care of had become her caregivers.
My dad, my sister, and I came together as a team to walk her through the last months of her life. They were filled with surgery, dr. appointments, chemotherapy, pain control, planning how to live, and finally…planning how to die.
As I sat with my mom one summer afternoon, a pen and pad of paper in hand, we outlined the details of her funeral. “What music do you want to be played?” My mom listed off all of her favorites, from Cat Stevens to Linda Ronstadt. When she thought of San Francisco, she lit up. I knew she loved that song and it would be perfect. The planning went on and she grew tired. As I sat there in silence with her, I thought of the past few months’ events and how they had led us to this place, my mom’s hand in mine, watching her peacefully sleep, while I wrote, “She doesn’t want any sad songs at the funeral.”
How did I get here? How could I do this?
I thought back at all of the ways how, instead of drowning in our own sorrow, my family had found the strength and courage to do whatever it took to make my mom comfortable and at peace. It was hard to see her suffer, both physically and emotionally. My mom was our protector and I knew it had to be excruciating for her to helplessly watch us experience such grief and pain.
Those eight months were the most difficult of my life, but they were the most poignant.
We were the only three people in the room when my mom took her last breath. And…as traumatic and difficult as those moments were, an unexplainable bond was formed between the three of us. We shared a life altering experience in that room on September 8, 2007 and I will
be the same.
I look back now and see myself going through the motions, almost controlled by something else. It was more surreal than anything I’ve ever known. My dad, sister, and I will often ask each other, “How did we do that?” But, we know. We did it for her. For 33 years she was always there when I needed her. She was more than what she had to be. From her husband and from her daughters,
Mom, I hope we did you proud.