Sunday, March 24, 2013

4 years later ...

There are a lot of things we take for granted. Hot water, clean drinking water, indoor plumbing. You don't know what you have until it's gone.

But what about people? 4 years ago, I lost my mother. I don't exactly understand why, other than a sepsis infection. The details are very foggy. I was in a haze when I found out. I was sick. Literally. My ears were so plugged up that I had an extremely hard time hearing what was being told to me. All I knew was, my mother had gotten ill quickly, and had never gotten better. The fact that she did not have a spleen made her condition deteriorate quicker than it should have.

My mother and I (1987?)

I still remember how I received the news. Anthony and I had just put the kids to sleep a few hours prior (Sofia and AJ at the time). We were watching TV and decided to order a pizza because we were hungry. Just as I picked up my phone from the bed, it rang. I saw it was my cousin, S. Her and I are super close, so I wasn't surprised that she would call. She lived in Tennessee, I live in NY. Likely, she was on her way home and wanted to chat a bit to pass the time on the ride home. I answered and asked her if I could call her back in just a few moments. I was starving, and desperately wanted to eat. The words she said next, there was no way to prepare for.

First thing she said was, I need to tell you something before you order. Thank God she told me before, because there would be no way in hell I'd be able to eat in a few minutes. She asked if I was sitting. At that point, I knew something was wrong. I just didn't know HOW wrong. I immediately sat down and answered that yes, I was sitting. She then said "have you gotten any phone calls lately?". Well, a few friends, doctor appt reminder calls, etc. Other than that, no. She then said something that ripped my heart out.

"Kristen, Aunt Debi passed away today."

Excuse me? Say that again?? It hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn't talk. Instantly, the tears came. There was no sound. Just uncontrollable sobbing. How could this be?? My daughters birthday was just a few days before, and she sounded just fine. She didn't sound sick when she called to wish her a happy birthday. She didn't complain of a headache. No belly ache. Nothing. She called, spoke with Sofia. Told her happy birthday. We spoke briefly because I was mad at her, and we had gotten into an argument a while back. Seems silly now.

But here it was, about midnight. I'm getting the call from my cousin. Who heard from someone else. Who heard from someone else. Who heard from someone else. I swear, I was THE LAST person to know. I was her first born, yet I was the last to know. And she had died HOURS earlier. I didn't even get a phone call to say that she was in the hospital, seriously ill. I would have dropped everything to get up there. 7 hour drive? I could have made it in 5, I'm sure. That is what made me so angry. I wasn't given the courtesy to receive a phone call. I am glad I heard from S, but still. Not hours later. Perhaps if I was called first, she would still be alive. I could have informed the doctors that she had no spleen. It would have saved her.

I try not to dwell on the past. Only because I can't be sure it would have done any good. If I keep thinking about it, I get more and more upset that I was one of the LAST people to find out. I get more and more upset that I wasn't even called when she was admitted. That she didn't call me to tell me she wasn't feeling good. That she moved out of state. That she left us, her kids, and moved hundreds of miles away. And because of her moving, she wasn't there when I gave birth to my kids. She wasn't there when I graduated High School. The more I think about the past, the more upset I get.

4 years later, and Sofia is still crying at night because she misses Grammy. Those two had an AMAZING bond. Sofia loved her Grammy to pieces, and Grammy loved her Sofia to pieces. Sofia went with her every summer for a few weeks, and we looked forward to it. Before she had passed, we had made plans that she would take Sofia for the next school year. Mom had said that a few weeks in the summer wasn't enough. Also, at the time, AJ was just about 2, and she was still having a hard time adjusting. We were all looking forward to it.

Mothers Day at the Zoo (2005)
Another from Mothers Day at the Zoo (2005)

Summer visit (2006)

It's been 4 years, and I still miss my mother terribly. I am often haunted by the last real conversation we had. Though I don't recall exactly what it was, I do remember being very upset at something she did. I remember the summer prior, she had cut Sofia's hair quite a bit. I remember being angry because she didn't tell me she needed to. I wasn't angry that she had cut it, just that she didn't TELL me. I *think* this is why I was so upset with her and we didn't talk for a while before she passed away. The problem was, I had told her that it was rude that she didn't tell me. She got mad that I told her that, and demanded an apology. I had told her that it would be a cold day in hell when I apologize to her for saying I was upset. We didn't talk for a long time after that. 

The only reason we spoke before she passed away was so that she could call and tell Sofia happy birthday. We spoke briefly. I am thankful that that conversation was pleasant. Since she called while Sofia was still in school, she wasn't able to talk to her right then. We spoke very briefly about what Sofia was up to. We discussed the plans for Summer for that year. The plan was that she would not have Sofia during the Summer. Instead, we would meet up late August, and she would then have Sofia all the way until the end of the school year, in June. We would then discuss what we would do for future years. It was a very tough decision. One that we did not take lightly. It took a VERY long time to decide that was the best for Sofia. Since AJ was having health problems, and we were having financial difficulties, it just made sense.

Unfortunately, that plan was cut short. And everything went down hill from that point on. I became an emotional wreck. Staying strong for my kids was not an option. I tried, but it just made it worse. I had to break the news to Sofia in school because I didn't think I'd be strong enough to do it at home. It was the hardest thing I have EVER had to do. Telling my parents that I was pregnant at 17 years old? Piece of cake compared to this. I knew it would break Sofia's little heart just as much, if not more, than mine was breaking.  And broken it sure was. She collapsed. Just completely collapsed in my arms.

You never expect your parents to go so suddenly. I was under the impression that my mother was invincible. My life changed the day that I learned she passed. It changed even more when Sofia found out. I spiraled out of control. Not really, but I did feel myself lose myself. I did things I swore I never would, and I hurt others so that they would feel the same level of hurt I did. (No, I did not abuse drugs, or my kids.) I just had to figure out who I was now. 

4 years later, I guess you can say I have come to terms with it. I am still upset, and sad, and hurting, but I now know it's not just a bad dream. Sometimes, I really wish it were, though. I still wish she were here. I wish she had a chance to meet Gianna. I wish she were here to watch Sofia grow up. I wish she were here to help me with AJ. I just wish she were here so I could talk to her. I still have the Happy Birthday Sofia message she left on my voicemail. I am just not ready to delete it yet. It brings me comfort when I need it most.

Please remember, your parents will not be here forever. Remember that when your mother is upsetting you and trying to tell you how to do something. Remember that when your dad is on your behind about who you're dating. Watch your words carefully. You never know if that's the last time you'll talk to someone. I am thankful that we were able to have a good last conversation. One where I was able to tell her that I love her and miss her, and she told me the same. Tell your parents, every day, that you love them. Forgive them if they've upset you. I wish I wouldn't have been so stubborn. What I wouldn't give for one more chance to talk to her. 

Mom, I love you so much. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I have pictures of you in the playroom, so you're always watching over the kids. Sofia has grown into such an amazing child. You'd be proud of her. AJ, well, we're working on that. As for Gianna, I really wish you would have been able to meet her. You would adore her. She's such a happy baby. Plus, I could really use your support and guidance with her HS. I miss you, and I can't wait to see you again.

August 15, 1958 - March 24, 2009

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