One Last Time

I have tried to write this blog post a few times and never really got past the first line. It’s been hard to sort out my feelings, to be able to look at the past few weeks and say “it happened, it’s real” and not want to fall to pieces.

My mom has died. She died on the 21st of July. Her memorial was on the 30th – two years to the day since my Dad’s death.

She was ill. She’d had a mild cold, but she experienced sudden and rapid brain deterioration to the point where she didn’t seem to know who I was. And at times she seemed like she did, but she cried all the time, every time I went to visit her. So I don’t know if she recognised me or not. Either way, I think she wanted out of that hospital and I don’t blame her. But she developed epilepsy (which the doctor’s didn’t tell us until the day before she was released into a nursing home), which meant she’d had to stay there for longer.

The sisters at the frail care home said that if we’d got her to them sooner, she’d probably have survived.

That hurt. A lot. They didn’t mean it in a bad way, but I was the one going to visit her every day. I was the one who saw how unhappy she was. I was the one who should’ve realised that the hospital wasn’t the right place for her, how desperately unhappy she was there.

Should’ve. Could’ve. Would’ve. It doesn’t really matter. She’s gone.

Brett, my brother-in-law, shared a comforting thought with my sister and me: it took Dad two years just to get Heaven ready for her. And as my aunt put it, Peter Pan has been reunited with his Tinkerbell.

I just feel empty.

No one around me seems to have any concept of how I feel and it’s so isolating. I know many people who’ve lost a parent, but virtually none have lost both, and certainly not so close together. My parents are gone. For all intents and purposes, I’m an orphan. My worst nightmares have been realised.

People come to me and say, “You must be so relieved,” and I’m like, “Yes, I’m so relieved my mother just suddenly died, alone, in the middle of the night, surrounded by strangers. I’m so relieved I never said goodbye to her the day before, because I didn’t want to upset her more than she already was.” I’m not fucking relieved. I’m so, so sad. I want my mom. I want my dad. I’m not relieved. My heart feels like it’s been ripped out, torn up, roughly glued back together and shoved haphazardly back into my chest cavity.

But at the same time… there is a sense of relief and it’s not quite the same thing. She’s got her mind back. She’s back with Dad, and her parents and brothers. She’s not miserable any more. I don’t have to clean up after her when she loses control of her bowels. I don’t have to worry about leaving her alone. I don’t have to feel guilty for going out and leaving my sister to take care of her while I have fun.

And then I feel like an absolute shit for thinking that way.

She was my responsibility. I’ve been taking care of her since I was about 16 years old. I’ve been the grown-up in our relationship since I was 14. I had to make sure she was OK. And I feel like I let her down. I feel like I abandoned her to that place. I closed my eyes to her suffering when I should have realised something was desperately wrong and I didn’t.

And I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry, Mommy.

I feel so lost. I miss my parents so much. I just want to hold them. One last time.

 

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 22:58:18

    I am so sorry.

    Reply

  2. julietpapa
    Aug 25, 2012 @ 23:31:28

    Please don’t feel guilty. It’s natural to feel some relief after caring for a loved one that’s been ill, and don’t second guess what should, or could have been done. You did what you thought was right at the time, and only now, when you are hurting, and missing your parents are you questioning how you handled it. I know, I was there too. For a long time I felt really bad, but realized that no matter what I did the end result would have been the same. Neither of them will ever feel pain again, and you can bet if they could tell you right now, that they would tell you to move on, and have no guilt because they know that you loved them, and did your best. Take care of yourself, and I hope you have a great life.

    Reply

  3. tersiaburger
    Aug 27, 2012 @ 21:51:50

    I was grateful when my Dad stopped breathing. He died when he forgot how to breathe. I was grateful that the strong, proud, beautiful, protector of our family was saved further indignity and suffering. He would have chosen death above indignity… I miss my Dad every day of my life but I do not miss the person, wearing nappies who stopped breathing…

    I am sorry that you lost your Mom so early in your life!

    Reply

    • Kirsten
      Aug 28, 2012 @ 15:20:34

      I get that. My mom… having to see her in nappies, being changed like an infant, when she used to be so, so beautiful, so intelligent and witty… it hurt so much more than I ever thought it was going to. It doesn’t matter how prepared I was for it to get that bad, it was still awful. Thanks for the comment.

      Reply

  4. chuckandalison
    Aug 28, 2012 @ 08:16:27

    Kirsten,
    My heart goes out to you, for the recent death of your mom, and the not so long ago death of your dad. My own mom died 16 years ago (how can it possibly be that long)? She died of breast cancer just six months after my younger brother died, also of cancer. The whole thing sucked. And your doubts, and love, and pain and confusion touched my soul when I read your blog. I get it. Big time. So I wanted to reach out to you to invite you to check out a resource called Tapestries of Hope. After I’d gone through my initial mourning, I founded TOH along with my friend Alisa, to provide support to other daughters who had gone through this loss of a mom. We offer support groups and connect women with one another and its been beautiful to see so many come through their grieving and find true friendships with each other. We’re very grassroots and all volunteer and we’ve all gone through this. Anyways, I won’t get long winded. Check out Tapestries at http://www.tapestriesofhope.org and let me know if there’s anything we can do to stand with you through this as you find your way. You aren’t alone, though I know it must feel very isolating to you at this point. Hang in there~Alison, daughter of Betty Catharine

    Reply

    • Kirsten
      Aug 28, 2012 @ 15:24:01

      Thank you so much Alison. I am busy perusing the site now, it’s a wonderful initiative. I’m very far away from you, but I’m so grateful that you have a website. 🙂 It’s funny how isolated I feel, you’re right. Even though my sister is going through the exact same thing… I feel like I’m going through this alone half the time. Thanks for the comment and the info.

      Reply

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