Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Great Loss

October 26th was the date of my last blog.  I was immersed in Cardinal baseball.  I was praying, quite literally, over a little boy to not be sick for the huge weekend we had coming up.  (Consisting of a fall fest at school, a fall fest for church, a 5K family run / walk, his last baseball game for the season, game party, birthday shopping for Cowboy boots, friends coming over, with the finale being his birthday party.  Phew.  I'm tired just writing it.)

Anyhow.  Life was banking along. Maybe moving so fast I failed to really see it.

On October 30th I talked with my mom again on the phone.  Her mom was in the hospital... again. This has been a going trend since May.  In and out.  Good and bad.  But never that bad.  Turns out she'd had a minor heart attack earlier in the week, probably due to the fact that her heart wasn't keeping rhythm and was just getting worn out.  The agenda for the next day was to physically 'shock' her heart back into rhythm.  Mom had left the hospital feeling better about the procedure than she had in the months prior.  There had been talks of doing this for some time.  Grandma was in good spirits when she left, with her last remark being that she was sad she couldn't be home to scare all of the kids on Halloween.  The woman loved her holidays.  Especially Christmas.

I passively said on the phone to my mom that night, "Mom, she'll be next."  We both knew what I meant, but as much as I meant it, I didn't expect the phone call at 6:30 the next morning saying she was gone.  To be honest, I wouldn't have expected that a year... or two... from now.

It all happened so fast.  Out of the blue she had severe back pain and no feeling in her legs.  After that she flat lined.  They brought her back twice before my mom could get to the hospital.  Her body was functioning, but she was gone, as my mom and uncles waited... for five hours... for her to go on.

It was Halloween.

The series of events that follows is a whirlwind.  I had school that day to function through.  Trying to know the right thing to do and the thing you want to do at a time where you can't really function anyway, all while being 700 miles away.  That's hard.  Especially when it's unexpected.  Especially when the weekend is supposed to unfold as previously mentioned.  Especially when your five year old's birthday is coming.  I was heartbroken, longed to be with my mom, and confused.

Once we had decided that we were going back come hail or high water, the hubs got rear ended in the car we were supposed to drive back only an hour or so before we were scheduled to leave.  It was also the little man's birthday.  The funeral was only 36 hours away.  Hubs was fine, car was not.  (We would find out later it was totaled.)

I went to bed with a pounding headache that night and no idea what the next day would hold.  A couple hours of talking and $450 for a rental car later, and we were on the road.

We literally made it to the steps of my parents house in time to change clothes and get back in the car to go the cemetery.  A cremation and an intimate graveside service was all she wanted.

I felt blank.  No chance to see her again.  Just a friggin' pot sitting there where at least a casket should be.  All I can think of is the last hug I gave her at those same steps at my parents house months earlier, along with a promise that the next time we went back we'd drive over to her apartment to see her.  This was not in the cards.

My mom held up ok, until the pastor handed her a rose from grandma's spray.  The kids sat on her lap the entire time.  She needed them.

I stood out from under the tent, still utterly shocked that we were doing this.  Ladybugs were everywhere.  Kamikaze ladybugs.  Flying into you like mad, sticking to all of your surfaces.  The infestation of these things were even on the front page of the paper that contained her obituary.  Fitting.
And as mom cried, and I cried, I realized something, my mom had lost her best friend on this earth. The only person who has always been there for her... always.  Her confidant, her listening ear, the crying shoulder... all in that urn.

We spent the week going through paperwork, running errands that no person should have to worry about in their grief, going through every piece of jewelry the woman owned (and it was a lot).  We laughed about that jewelry and about her crazy colors of finger nail polish.  Apparently she'd been complimented on her blazing blue polish in the hospital the day before she died.

She loved to dress up.

She loved shoes.

She loved jewelry.

She loved food.

She loved Jesus.  She was the first person I talked to about Him.  I can remember it like it was yesterday.

I can remember all of the weekends spent at their house, playing in their yard.  I have this whole collection of holiday memories.  I can remember her laugh.  She had the greatest laugh ever.  She, my mom and I would do these shopping days where we'd go all day and have lunch and hit every store our feet would carry us in.  I'm so thankful for those times.

She went with us to pick out my wedding dress.  She liked one, mom liked the other.  I chose hers.  I'm so glad I did.

And the week passed, and turns out we had to drive two cars 11 hours back to Texas.  And the sweet hubs knew I just needed some time.  And he led.  And I followed.  And for the first time... really... I cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I kept watching the clock thinking it would stop, and it would, for moments here and there, but for the most part, I cried the entire way home.  I needed it.  I needed to think on the good times and mourn the loss.

But mostly, I spent time despairing in the fact that my kids won't have the same relationship with their Gaga that I did with my grandma.  11 hours pretty much prevents any random shopping trips and weekend sleepovers.  I cried for myself, who can't stop by my grandma's anymore... but can't even stop by my mother's when I want to, just because.  And she's living.  But she won't always be.

Like I said... I cried.

I think about her often each day... and have tried to be in contact each day.  She's struggling with not being able to pick up the phone to call her mom.  I'm going to take advantage of being able to do that for as long as I can.

And each day that goes by is different.  Some days are hard.  Some days are easier.  Some I really can't stand the distance between my mom and I.  Some days I can't help but hug on my own kids a little bit more.  All in all... I'm discovering that life will never be the same... it's a new kind of normal that's going to have to happen... and the process is going to be slow and somedays it is going to be painful...

One thing is for sure, I have been able to appreciate the loved ones in my life more.  I know that they, or I, won't be here forever... like this... to call on the phone whenever I want.  Maybe I'll be a little more apt to make phone calls...

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