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.