For those of you who look forward to my riding stories, don’t despair. I will be back on track soon and writing about riding. Give me a little time.
Yesterday started with shock, ended in tears, and in between was a great abyss that will never be filled.
The phone rang at 4:20 a.m., and it was my dad. “They just called with the bad news.” It was all he had to say, I knew what it meant. My mother was gone. He did not want to go over to the hospice, he said, so I laid there for a while, exhausted, thinking, crying silently, unable to sleep. At 7 I finally got up.
My dad called again at 8 and wanted to know if I was going over there. I was. He’d decided to go after all, and I picked him up on the way. I was glad he didn’t want to drive because I was barely capable of it myself. When we got there, it was difficult because everyone kept saying, “I am so sorry!” which made me want to cry even more. They took us to my mom’s room, only we knew it wasn’t her anymore. She was too still, too silent. I knew she was not really there. I touched her skin, waxy-looking and an odd yellowish color, but still soft. I smoothed her thin, soft hair, caressed her cheek one last time. Then I kissed her goodbye forever.
We left, and it was over. My parents are not ones for any religious crap, nor are they the type of people who will make the living suffer through a sad memorial service, so there will be none. They decided this long ago. Typical of them, they planned ahead for everything. I’m glad, because my dad does not have to make any difficult decisions now. In a way, it’s good because once it’s over, it is just over, no need to drag things out. It’s already time to move on (easier said than done).
Dad and I went to breakfast at one of their favorite places. It was a quiet breakfast, but I think he enjoyed it as much as he could. Then I took him back to the house, and he said he was glad he had gone with me one last time to the hospice. He won’t have to think later that maybe he should have and regret the decision not to. He also said that everything already seemed very far away. He has had no peace for about three months, driving Mother to Mayo Clinic, the hospital, to dialysis, all over, seeking help. In the end, there was no saving her from the ravages of multiple myeloma, and kidney failure due to that disease. Finally, he will have some time to relax and take stock of all that happened.
I drove around, doing errands that I knew needed to be done, and that I hadn’t had time for because of work. That was my “alone time,” and I know I shouldn’t have been driving around and going places, my employer would probably not be happy that I spent my time that way, but it was my way of coping at that moment. After a while, though, I thought, I’d better get home, I am a danger to myself and others. I was not thinking of anything at that point, I was just in a daze. I went home and hugged my dogs. The little dog, Louie, was unusually tolerant, and my big Emma stuck to me like glue. She is “my” dog, and she can sense when something is wrong. I love her big snuggly self. Later, I found a mindless chore to do outside. At least I could accomplish something and be out in the beautiful day.
While I was doing it, I thought about things, of course. I thought about what makes this so terribly hard. It’s because the three of us, my dad, sister, and I, all loved her so very much. She was so beloved by us, and we thought, irrationally of course, that she would never be taken from us. Like, maybe that love we have for her would make her immortal. It does, in an intangible way, but it is still not the same as having her physically with us every day. It is going to make what comes next all the more difficult. Life without Mother was impossible to imagine, and now will be difficult to accept. Mother! How can she be gone?
The day went on, and I felt more and more depressed as the full weight of a world without Mother in it descended. I even went to the gym to work out, which I thought would help a lot, but was like a Band-Aid. After the workout, the Band-Aid was torn off, the scab picked at, and then the wound began to bleed again.
Later, I sat in front of the TV, eating something nondescript. I felt I would never be hungry again, food would never again have a taste. The depression makes me feel like I want to jump out of my skin. It has that electric feeling that you get when you have done something very embarassing, or something that you are not proud of, and there is no escaping the discomfort. The abyss opened, and it is just there.
I went to bed, finally. Tired is a way of life for now, and I wondered how I would feel in the morning. It will probably be the same: wake up, help Dad, go through the motions, go back to bed. Time is supposed to heal all wounds, but we’ll see.
As my dad said tonight, “Life just isn’t fair, you know that?”
I totally know that.