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Friday, March 8, 2013

Remembering My Mother

Today is my mother's birthday.  She would have been 95 years old.  She died ten days after her 89th birthday while in hospice.  I miss her gentleness and love. She and I would talk on the phone almost every day until my son died eleven months prior to my mother's death. 

When my son died my mother felt like she was losing her only daughter in addition to her youngest grandchild.  She was desperate to make me “better.”  Whenever I would call her she would ask me how I was feeling and that would lead me to tell her the truth, I was feeling rotten.  She couldn’t accept this and would tell me that I needed to get through this because she needed me.  It became more difficult for me to talk to her because of these exchanges and I began to call her less often and distanced myself from her as I suffered from the severe grief of losing my only child.
My mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the beginning of 2007, just months after my son’s death.  I felt like I had not been doing my job of taking care of her like I always had---taking her to the doctor and making sure she had the things she needed.  I had given over these duties to my brother and his wife because I was just too exhausted from my grief and didn’t feel like I could handle any additional stress.  When I found out that my mom was terminal I took over and made sure that she was comfortable at the hospital and then eventually in hospice.
I stayed with her most of the time and we talked, laughed, and cried.  I would take in photo albums; we would look at the pictures and tell stories of our family and of course memories of my son.  At one point I was sitting in my mom’s bed with her and she told me this was just what she had wanted—for us to be together and talking like old times.  I was so happy that I was able to be there for her and for me.
Her death taught me what a “good” death was like.  She had lived a long life and she was ready to transition to the next phase.  She was able to have a gentle death and we were then able to give her a well-planned and loving memorial service. 
Although I miss her in my life, I am so grateful to have had the honor to be there to help her when she was facing death.  It showed me that death can be a welcomed event for the dying and that it is a privilege to be able to assist someone in his or her journey.
I love you Mom.

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