I said “goodbye” to my mom on Mother’s Day. I was in Venice, hours away from being able to reach her when I received the news that she had “48 hours” to live. Here is where I have never been so grateful for modern technology. I was able to FaceTime with her, able to tell her how much I loved her, and how I didn’t want her to be in pain any longer. Even though she was somewhat out of it, she looked at the phone, and I knew she knew it was me. I know she heard me. I told her I was going to be getting on the next plane I could, but that I did not want her to wait for me. I told her I knew she loved me, and that she would always be with me. It broke my heart to hang up, knowing I would probably never see her smile again.
We got on the water bus, and flew from Venice to Gatwick. On the plane, I heard her call my name, and I knew she was gone. When we got in the taxi, I sat in the backseat with my sister and brother-in-law, and messaged my husband that even if she was not technically ‘gone’, I knew she was. What I did not know was that he had already received the message that she passed while we were in the air. I received that confirmation once we were in our hotel room. My husband* was very thoughtful, and wanted me to be in a ‘safe space’ before he let me know.
Getting back to Dallas seemed to take forever. We slept at the hotel in London for a couple of hours and then flew out Monday morning from Heathrow – a nearly ten hour flight. As tired as we were, you would have thought we would have slept, but we did not.
We put everything together quickly, my mom was not big on ceremony, and she always believed that if things fell together easily, then you were headed in the right direction…and they did. We had a private graveside service early Wednesday morning, and a celebration of her life, Wednesday evening. It was perfect and my mom would have loved it. There were tears, of course, but we laughed and told stories. My family is so very close. We have a fierce love for one another, and we are generally so supportive of each other – just as mom always taught us to be, just as she would have expected us to be.
Listening to the stories, and reading the comments on Facebook, about how my mom changed so many people’s lives, has been very therapeutic for me. To hear people say “she saved my life” and “I would not be who I am, today, without her”, is so very powerful. Who would not want to leave that kind of legacy?!
There are words I keep hearing in my heart, things she has taught me all my life. I hope that I have half the impact on the world that she did. I also hope I learn from her mistakes, and apply the truths I have learned by watching her over time.
My new normal is going to take some time to get used to. Just like my Dad, who passed away 33 years ago, I will think of her every single day. I will still talk to her, and still tell her about how my day went. When I see a cardinal, I will wonder which one of them is checking up on me, and I will smile as I think about conversations they must be having with those of our family that have long been gone. In short, I am going to miss her every moment, but I hold fast to the knowledge that she is in a much better place, and I will see her again, one day. I will do my best to live each day to honor her memory, even though I will fall short often, because I am me.
Do not get me wrong, I have no delusions that my mom was perfect. I know better than most how human she could be, but I never doubted her love, and I never doubted her sincerity when she dealt with other people. I pray that all of you are fortunate enough to have someone like her in your life. I also pray that you have an amazing support system, like my family – not all of us are blood, I believe that family is more about who you choose, and although many members of my family are blood relation, many are simply mine by design.
Thank you mom for teaching me that family is one of the most important things you can have in your life, and for giving me a strong belief system. These are what get me through my day-to-day, and what gets me through those moments that would crush me otherwise. I will love you forever.
*for the record, my husband is the main reason I came through this with any amount of sanity. He should be sainted.