My mother's headstone. My father picked it out. He
bought the plot next to hers as well as a dual headstone.
The ultimate act of love, even death can't take away...
(click on pic for close up)
I can't believe it's been two years. I am so lost with no one to follow. All my movements seem to be robotic. Especially the holidays. I will forever miss you. I have lost so much in my life and suffered in such a way no one should ever have to suffer. But losing you by far has been the absolute worst thing to happen to me. We have decided to finally go through your Christmas boxes. You loved Christmas like no other. You made the holiday what it is today for us. The traditions you created were forever embedded into our hearts and souls. Although my tears will continue this blog will end. It's time. Mom, I don't know HOW to live without you. Although I must it's so fucking unbearable. I HATE that you died right before Christmas, I hate how you died, I hate how heartbroken we still are, I hate missing you as much as I do. You loved me like no one on this earth ever has. This journal will end because it's time to move on from these feelings of despair. I need to get up and move on. I need to fix my life. I need to fight for my future. Thank you for coming to me in my dreams. I always see you in the same dress. The dress I picked out to bury you in. Mom save me one more time, save me from my broken heart. As much as I pray it never goes away. HOW did you manage to move on after losing your mom in the same horrific way? I want to be just like you. I just can't seem to find my way out of this thick forest filled with nothing but sorrow and heart ache. The fog never lifts, it relents like blanket over my heart. Goodbye again as I say every year on this day. We shall be together again, I know it will be many, many years until that day comes but our love will last the test of time. I miss you Mommy......
I had a dream of my Mother the other night. I call it a nightmare because when I woke I cried the rest of the night. To hug her again, to talk to her again, we even prayed together. It was such a short lived gift to have her in my life again. Even if it wasn't real. it was such a blessing. Winter is to come again. I am dreading it. My mother died on a rainy day. Now when it rains I think of her. How stupid is that? The ironic thing is we rarely get rain and now it seems we have had so much rain. Who knows, maybe I never noticed. I have been bothered lately. Bothered by her last day. I have never thought about it as much. But now I lay down and the worst images strewn through my head. It's like a flash in my mind. It's instant and it's there. I know it's time. Time to talk about her last day. Although I would rather not. I knew this day was coming. So my last blog entry will be about the day she died. I will never write about again.
Like I said it was raining that day. My nerves were shot. wait, I don't think I can define how my nerves were. There was this sense of pressure. So indescribable. You would have to live through it to understand it. Torn between the suffering and the prospect of losing a loved one. It is something I had never encountered. To this day I don't know what is worse. Losing my mother or the suffering. I cannot cope or reason as to why she suffered like that. She was always a good person. So with all of this on the weight of my shoulders I was a ticking time bomb. So was everyone else in my family. By this time we were all fighting. Coupled with my Dad's sorrow. He was a strong, unemotional man. He lived by giving and getting respect. The only time I ever saw my father cry was 21 years earlier when I gave birth to my first born son. But with the my mother's suffering came his sorrow. He cried often. It was such a shock. It was like watching the strength of a human being ripped out and replaced with a desperate need not to lose the love of his life. He wept for a love that had grown with 42 years of conviction and bond. A bond that he was forced to give up. No choices given. He just had to lose his wife.
Did I think my Mother would die? I don't know. We had been told many times she would die and she always came home from the hospital. This time just seemed like another one of those times. Why would God take my mom during the holidays? This did not seem possible. My mother had gone back in because the tumor in her stomach had ruptured through the skin. If my mother had gone to the hospital on Thanksgiving then they would have treated it. She didn't want to. Because of this she had developed sepsis. ( blood poisoning) How ironic. In the end the tumor did kill her but it wasn't the actual cancer. My mother died of sepsis.
We refused to leave my mother alone in the hospital. We took shifts. I am sure we annoyed all the nurses even though they were so good to us.. She had great nurses but we felt she always needed one of us. I was in school at the time so I would stay overnight and sit in one chair, lay my feet on another. Study all night like that and try and sleep. She was always needing something so rest was not something we had much of anymore. I remember being mad at the hospital. They had decorated right outside the rooms with Christmas decor. Every time I walked right past it, it pissed me off. It was like a huge insult. Here we were emotionally dying along side with our mother and being reminded of the holiday season.
The morning of December 12, 2009 I had gone home to shower. I felt rushed. I knew I had to get back right away that morning to meet up with my oldest sister Fran. As I got there I remember stepping out of my car into the rain. I was struck at the fact that it was raining. As if the Angels were crying with us. When I got to my mother's room Fran was already on edge. We fought and I left. I was tired of all the stress. I was sick of her and her controlling everything. I left in tears and with a heavy heart.
My boys had missed my mother. So my plan was to take them to visit my Mom. When I came back my sister Lisa was there. I walked in as she was trying to stop my mother from pulling her leads off. I thought about how odd this was. Something was different. My mother was irrational. One minute she would grab my hand then a minute later she would push it away. When she realized what she had done, it was as if fear came over her and she would grab my hand again. I comforted her as best as I could. I will never forget the look in her eyes. I knew it wasn't a good time for a visit. I rushed the boys in to say hello, then they quickly left. I am forever grateful they got to see her alive one last time. I would have never guessed in just a few hours she would be gone. I also remember some cousins came to see her and that seemed to offset her even more. After a discussion with the nurse. WE felt it was best that only one of stay with her. I lived literally 2 minutes from the hospital so I opted to leave. My sister could have that time with her. I planned to go back later that evening.
Rest was scarce so any opportunity I had, I took it. As I lay on my recliner trying to talk myself into getting up to go back to the hospital, I received a phone call. It was my father. He was crying. In as sad, sullen voice her proceeded to tell me my mom didn't look good. Something had happened. My mother was no longer responsive. One minute she was talking to him, then the next just aimlessly staring afar. I stood up. Called for my kids. We raced to the hospital. I was the first from the family to get there. My father told me her blood pressure had dropped. They had brought in a machine to resuscitate her if necessary. Right away when he saw the machine he told them no, he couldn't bare have her suffer any more. (this had been much discussed in the past)
I have to say while all this was happening it was almost like we were not there. There was a calmness to all of this. I went up to my Mother. She laid there. Motionless. Breathing heavily, with her eyes open affixed on the ceiling. There I was, literally watching my mother die. I tried to ask my Dad what happened. He had no answer. I stood next to her. I rubbed my hand through her head. AT this point seeing the end was near I was trying to absorb every moment. feeling of her I could get. I kissed her, hugged her, kissed her. Spoke to her. I said the words I never thought would come out of my mouth. I told my mother it was ok. It was ok to go. We would all be ok. The hospital staff brought many chairs in. They brought us a big bucket full of ice with water bottles in it. Next to my mom sat a small Christmas tree. The lights gleamed a small flicker of hope as family started pouring in. There stood a testament to who my mother is and was. All the children, grandchildren, siblings, cousins, friends. WE were all there.
My mother's lungs began to fill with fluid so there was a tube in her mouth. My father would use it to clear out her nose and mouth. The odd thing is my mother was holding on to the tube as well. Her eyes were open looking afar, she was completely unresponsive, and there she was holding on to this tube. The noise she made as she struggled to breathe every last breath was awful. As her lungs filled with fluid she gasped. All i wanted to do was make it stop. To this day I hope she wasn't aware or scared. I remember my sister laying over her weeping. I remember my son Joey getting angry with me because I told my mother is was ok to leave us. His young heart could not comprehend how he would live without his grandma. I never let go of my mother. Her touch was everything to me. I was trying to hard to absorb it all.
As we all relented in the anguish of the room we waited for the priest to give my mother her last rights. As he walked in he quickly took control of the room. We all held hands around my mother. I made sure I grabbed her hand. To look back now. What an honor to hold her hand as her last rights were given to her. I have no memory or what the priest said or did. I just know that is was as if she waited for him. Things quickly went downhill after he left. But one thing I will not forget was my mother's hand. I had taken her hand off the tube she was holding so I could hold her hand. When the priest left, I turned around maybe a second and when I looked back at my Mom her hand was back on the tube! My Mother was still with us. She may not be able to communicate but her hand was on that tube again. She was still in control.
A little after the priest left my mother's heart rate began to plummet. When this happened and the alarms went on I will never forget what my father said. In a tearful burst of words, he said. "Here we go" The doctor came in and prepared us. He told us my mother's heart was extremely strong. Even though her other organs had shut down her heart would fight to beat. My mother did not just die. What an awful thing to experience. Her heart. Trying so hard to pump. To live. It fought so hard to keep her here. We all were around her comforting her. There was my Daddy. Always by her side. Never leaving her side. Then slowly her heart had tired out. Her heart would beat, then stop and white line, then began to beat again. She took one final breath, then she was gone. As her life was over, with it went a part of mine. I walked out to the waiting room and wailed. I sobbed a sob, a scream. The last 3 years came flooding out of me in one moment. I fell to my knees and cried.
After a quick composure I went back into the room. The room was filled with so much love. Love my mother had created and worked to the bone to protect and flourish. In that room were all her children, my father, my oldest son, my oldest niece, my dad's sisters, my mom's sister. She had friends there too. When I had gotten pregnant at 15 who knew my parents and J's other grandparents would become so close. Instead of fighting they embraced. And when my mother went to be with the lord they were there. Not just them but their daughter as well. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
The next moment was the worst part. The doctor came in and poked her eye with this plastic probe. I asked him why he did that and he said it was part of the routine they do. He then pronounced her dead. I closed her eyes and I grabbed her hand. She was still warm. I looked at her legs. All the pressure, redness, swelling was gone. No more. . Then like a shock to my soul I saw something. I saw my mother's feet turning purple. This jolted me back literally. There was no fog or haze anymore. No. I was not going to see this. I was not going to remember my mother like that. I knew right then that I had to leave. As everyone aimlessly walked around consumed in empty conversation; I stood over my mom and cut strands of her hair. My mother always had the regret that she had nothing concrete left of her mother. I believe she let me know that so I would never have the same regret. I kept touching her and kissing her. I was one of the first to go. I left knowing I would never see her again. She did not want an open casket, so I kept looking at her. She looked asleep. Relaxed, finally. Usually her pain was so bad, even when she slept she moaned. Now she slept in peace. Walking away was the hardest thing I had ever done. I was completely conscious of every move I made. I had walked away only to run back for "one more time" Her physical appearance was changing so fast. Within an hour the change was noticeable. I had to leave. I gave her one last kiss and I took her hand and touched my face. I said goodbye to my heart, my soul, my life. My mother was dead. Dead. How did this happen?
Through the hour family trickled out. but not my Dad. My sister Adriana stayed until the funeral home came to get my mom but not my Dad. He watched as they put her in the body bag. He put his arm over the bag and as they wheeled her out he walked aside her body all the way to the hearse. A few days later the funeral home told me this. They had told me they never had seen a spouse do this. My father's love was radiating through her death and even a stranger was a witness to it.
Coming home from the hospital was a blur. The next few days were a blur. My mind was consumed thinking of her. I remember that night as I lay in bed I could not get her out of my mind. It was as if she wasn't gone. On a vacation. Reality had not hit. I must have cried myself to sleep. That was the first day I can say in all of my life I felt hopeless. Confused. I awoke the next morning really early. I had not planned on waking up so early but I did. I knew we were meeting at my parent's home to discuss everything. I had NO IDEA the whole house would fill up with so many people. They all brought food and flowers. Everywhere I turned was a person consoling me. We had all brought are picture of my Mom. We had they all laid out on the table. There on a table stood a lifetime of events. Events that belonged to a woman who should not have left this earth. The house seemed so empty without her. Later that day we decided to go through her closet. It wasn't planned but my dad didn't seem to mind. My friend had lost her dad the year before. She told me how his clothing had lost "his smell". So I bagged all my mom's clothes and sealed the bag. I didn't ever want to lose her smell. She was a clothes horse. OMG she had two closets full of clothes. BIG closets too. She also wore this deodorant. It smelled really good. I took it too. As crazy as it sounds, I had to have that. We spent the day there just going through the motions. Lisa stayed with our Dad for a few days and I would come by often.
My mother had specific plans for the funeral. Well they didn't really turn out that way. Our family insisted that she have the best of the best. Fran picked out the most beautiful and expensive casket with the finest lining. She didn't care about if no one ever saw it again, She wanted the best for my mother and my father agreed that expense was not an issue. She had the most lavish and stunning service I had ever seen. The flowers, the huge 4 song picture video, and my sisters and myself all went up to speak. As we left service for the burial I marveled at how many people were there. Even some of my friends came and they never knew my mother. It was an epic moment.
My mother was insistent she be buried in the same cemetery as her sister. Rosalie ( we called her Chalia, and I don't know why lol) was younger than my mother and died a sudden death. There was no planning. We had an existing family plot in our family and my aunt Elva generously gave it to my cousin to bury her Mom in it. I had actually been the one in charge to pick out the plot and pay for it while my mother was alive. She HAD TO KNOW where and how close she would be to her sister. I found the closest plot available to my aunt and got it for my mother. I kept myself composed through the entire service until the burial.
7 years before when my aunt Rosalie had died, as ridiculous as this sounds my oldest aunt Manuelita was never told! She was very ill and her idiot husband felt that the news of losing her baby sister may make her sick. So for years she never knew the truth. Well sooner than later my mother got sick of the BS and told my aunt. So here we are at the burial burying my mother. We had bought flowers for are other family members as well. So as I made my rounds to pay my respects to all of them I see my aunt Manuelita hovered over Rosalie's grave sobbing. She was crying out in Spanish about her little sister. How she never knew or got to say goodbye. She wept and laid her hands over the headstone. She never had the "moment" as we all did when we buried my aunt. That is when I could not contain my sadness anymore. I ran, ran away so they could not here me cry. Louder and louder I cried. By the time I reached my mother's casket hovered over the deep hole, I realized we were really going to put her down there. I grabbed her casket and kissed it. Over and over. My father was behind me trying to console me but it did him not good. My mother was in that casket and she was about to buried. I had never imagined that part of her death. Now here it was. I then stood straight up, and just walked to my car. Crying the entire way. I left.
We had a reception following the funeral. I don't remember much about it. I do remember hugging my aunt Elva and telling her she was all I had left that was like a mother to me. I was given some very special gifts from family members in her remembrance. I saw family members I had not seen as a child. I was so touched that my father's side of the family drove all the way from Mexico to pay their respects. What a day it was. Then it was over. Forever.
It took me awhile to go visit my mother for the first time. I had to gain the strength to go. I went alone. There. There was her headstone. All I could think was I may not have my mom, but I have her body. It's right here. Maybe not next to me so I can touch her but it's right here. I laid above her. I laid there and cried. I spoke to her for what seemed like hours. There I was, connected to her. As we lay six feet apart, ants crawled over me, mud got all over my clothes, none of that mattered. I laid there and tried so hard to make some sort of connection. I asked her to help me. I needed her. I don't even know why I asked of those things. I just did. In the last two years I take the kids often to my mother's gravesite. It gives them comfort.. They love to decorate her headstone for the holidays and her birthday. It's something they treasure.
I keep hearing how I need to stop focusing on her death and the day she died and I need to start celebrating her life. In order to do this , I have to write this. Her death still haunts me. But I finally feel like a part can let go a long with this blog. This blog has been such a blessing. I was able to say things here that I could never say out loud or admit otherwise. The rawest, weakest, susceptible part of me was written throughout this blog. It helped me cope and vent when I needed to. It symbolized so much. It was ABLE to console me. Now I CAN end this chapter in my life and this blog and start a new. Yes, life will still seem the same tomorrow as it is today but it won't be. Even if it's just a tiny bit, I will be stronger.
Mom, I love you. Thank you so much for being my best friend. For loving me as much as you did. Thank you for just being you. Come back to my dreams again Mommy. Bring your laugh with you. Hugs and kisses, your baby girl Cynthia (Cindy)