Today is one month. One month without you, mom. One month without my best friend. One month of no phone calls, no texts, no hugs, no dinners, no visits to Yale. One month without the one person who could always give me the words of encouragement I needed.
How can it be? How can a month go by without you here? How did this happen and why? Each day I try to remember you’re still here. I try to think that you’re in a better place. I try to hope that this is a bad dream. I would give anything to see you again. I would give anything for that grave not to be yours. I would give anything to wrap my arms around you and hold tight.
Our routines are different now. There are spaces in our days that you used to fill. Whether it was a phone call or a visit, you were a part of my every day. I used to call you every morning on my way to work. Now I drive in silence. I used to call you a couple times throughout the day to ask you what you were doing or to check in and make sure everything was okay. I used to talk to you on the way home from work, asking you questions about how to prepare something for dinner. I used to drive to Yale to spend time with you after work. I used to drive to the rehab facility to force you to eat something.
Now, I try to visit with you as much as I can. I try to go to see you as much as possible. I kneel down and my tears make a puddle of mud on your grave; my makeup down my face. It’s not always real, but when it is – it’s unbearable. It’s the feeling of hopelessness, of weakness, pity and agony. The days that it’s real, my eyes swell, my tears flow, my head pounds and my day drags.
And it brings me back to one month ago today. We sat there at noon, the last time you were awake was 7 PM the night before – the last time you squeezed my hand, the last time you told me you loved me. So, each hour they told us it was closer to loosing you and that you were closer to letting go. Each hour your hands became colder, moving up your arms. Each hour you received morphine and ativan. Each minute we counted your breaths. Each minute we watched your chest. We watched as your breaths got shallower. We watched as you could no longer swallow. We watched as your body shut down and we watched as you battled with letting go.
On hour four, we each begged you to let go. We told you it would be okay, even though it really isn’t okay. We cried to you and told you enough was enough. We cried and told you how much we were going to miss you. You became more swollen and you started to not look like you anymore. I held your hand and my tears didn’t stop. I rubbed your head and tried to make sure you were warm.
The house was full the day you passed. Your friends and your family came to say goodbye and to be the strength we so desperately needed. Your friends, they cried and they told you how much you meant to them. We opened a window to help your spirit along. We left the room to let you be alone. We drank Pino Grigio and ate plate after plate of food. And, every so often we’d break down, cry and be angry.
Your nurses became our family and they watched your every move. Their eyes were on you. They told us when they were giving you medication. They moved you so you didn’t choke. They counted your breaths.
One month ago, today, was the longest day of my life, as well as the absolute worst. At 2 AM, I went upstairs to take a break from watching you and 20 minutes later, it was time. We watched you as you took your last breath. You opened your eyes. My anxiety took over and I could barely stand without shaking. I didn’t cry then. But when everyone left the room and gave me and you a second, I cried to you and begged you to tell me this was a bad dream. I asked you what I was going to do without you. What was I going to do when Steve and I decide to have a family? What was I going to do when something didn’t go the way I had imagined? What was I going to do when all I need is my mom?
Your funeral came and went in a blink of an eye. We celebrated you and put in a shift at Rose’s afterwards. And the next day, Steve and I packed up our things and moved back to our home. It was at that moment is was real. We were no longer taking care of you. We were no longer needed. We didn’t have you anymore. So, we unpacked our bags and tried to put our life back together. But, since you’ve been gone, I can’t say that my life it put back together. It’s mostly patched up and there are times when I wonder how I am going to get through this.
There are nights that I don’t sleep. There are nights that all I do is dream of you. There are nights that I wake up in a sweat, tears falling down my face and my heart racing. There are days when I force myself to get up out of bed and go to work. There are days when I’m nasty and angry.
So, one month has gone by and it’s not much easier. If anything it’s a little bit harder. And, I think that’s because until recently I didn’t believe this was real. I didn’t believe that this was the life that we now live… without you. I love you, mom. And each day I think of you. Each day I wish you were here. And each day I wonder what you’re doing, what you’re thinking, what you’re watching.
And, I look forward to your signs. I look forward to the hoot of an owl. I look forward to a knock at my door. And I look forward to the wind at your grave.