Saturday, August 10, 2013

Tribute.

Three weeks after we lost Mom, we regrouped to honor her. 

The most heart wrenching arrangement from the littlest one to love her. 

Only a small portion of the flowers that were sent to the funeral home.  She was loved by many.

How do you say goodbye to your Mom, your best friend?  I pretty much spent the past couple of weeks convincing myself that Mom was on a vacation, that she wasn't really gone. 

Mom, actually on vacation.  This was on our cruise to Bermuda in October, 2007.

I greeted so many at the funeral home that Friday.  So many who hugged me and told me that she was too young.  Yes, I know.  That she loved me.  Yes, that I have never questioned.  I wish someone could tell me how to express how much one life can mean.  I was afraid to see her in the casket.  I didn't know what to "say" to her.  I walked up with my Dad and sang to her.  I sang her the same song she sang to me when I was little.  "Que Sera, Sera" by Doris Day.  I felt bad leaving at the end of the evening, just leaving her alone in that room.  On this subject, the funeral home has found a way to profit from this particular form of guilt; they actually offer an option (for a cost, of course) for loved ones to spend the night in a viewing room with their loved one.  I thought about it for a moment, but then realized I had a baby at home to take care of, plus I certainly wouldn't have gotten any sleep.

Mom's Girls....
My best friend, Jen, had come into town from West Virginia to attend the viewing and the funeral.  She had said to me that if I needed anything, to call.  So, after we had finished up at the funeral home, I realized I wasn't ready to go home yet.  Dad was at home, along with other family members.  I just wasn't ready to deal with all of that.  So, I called Jen and asked her to meet us for a drink.  We sat and talked about "normal" things for over an hour.  It was nice to not have to be completely consumed with my grief.

The next morning we headed to the church for Mom's funeral.  I personally picked out all of the Bible selections and the Hymns for her service.   There was one reading, a poem I read for my Mom.  I managed to make it all the way through without breaking down into tears, though my knees were knocking the whole time. 

Bobby with his "Uncle" Brian, right before Mom's funeral


Tuesday we had Mom cremated.  My Dad couldn't go in to say goodbye and he certainly wasn't able to witness Mom being placed in the cremation device.  Since I do WAY too much reading on the internet, I decided that I needed to witness Mom being placed in the cremation oven.  I was lead to a much smaller viewing room to say my final goodbye.  I brought her flowers, white and pink carnations.  Pink carnations symbolize a Mother's love and "I'll never forget you".  White carnations symbolize eternal life and love.  My husband, my son and I walked with Mom to the cremation area, saw her placed, and left.

We got to bring her home again two days later.


The Worst Day of My Life.

So, we were having a pretty difficult week at our house.  Dad had left on Monday and Mom developed a pretty nasty cough on Tuesday morning, which she attributed to smoking too much while my Dad was home.  I finally insisted that Mom take some cough syrup on Wednesday, and the cough disappeared almost instantly.  She told us she was improving daily, and we were kinda surprised when she didn't go to work on Thursday.  On Thursday, I came up to her room to check on her, and brought her some cereal.  She was in bed, and didn't have her glasses on, so I didn't really question when I saw the milk occasionally sloshing out of her cereal bowl onto her comforter.  It took her a little bit of time, but she finally realized what was going on, and looked up at me and told me "I'm a klutz".  I told her not to worry about it, and promply cleaned up the milk spill.  We had a brief conversation and then she asked me where Bobby was, and I told her he was in his swing in the basement, sleeping.  She raised her eyebrows and asked if I would be able to hear him if he cried.  I told her no, and said that I would go check on him. 

That was the last time I spoke to my Mom.

Friday morning came.  I got Bobby up, was getting him ready for bath, and having to tell him "Shhh.  Don't wake Grammy up."  I bathed Bobby, took him downstairs to the kitchen, fed him and played for a bit before he dozed off during a nursing session.  I decided this would be the perfect time for me to go check and see what Mom wanted me to make her for breakfast.  Things seemed off as I walked up the stairs to her bedroom.  I didn't hear snoring.  I looked up and saw that her television was in sleep mode (which only ever happens during the middle of the night).  My heart went into my throat as I turned and looked towards the bed.  Mom was there.  She looked so peaceful.  I couldn't see her chest moving.  I strained my eyes to look closely as I started shaking my head and saying "No.  Mommy!  Wake up please!  Don't leave me!  MOM!!!!"  After a minute or so of screaming, I calmly turned away and started down the stairs.  I stopped on my level of the house (right below hers).  I stared down at my cell phone and thought "do I call C.W., or 911"?  I continued down the stairs to the front door, opened it, and dialed 911.  I remember exactly what I told them.  My Mom isn't responsive.  They asked me to go to her, which I did.  They told me to move her to the floor.  I didn't think I could move her, and told them so.  They asked me to perform chest compressions, which I did.  The whole time I was on the phone with the operator, I was counting.  "1, 2, 3, please don't leave me Mom, 5....1, 2, oh Mom, 4, I can't lose you.....".  Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, I heard men yelling in the house...."Where are you???"  "Up here!!", I replied.  "Please help me!"  At least 3 firefighters/EMT's entered Mom's room and told me that they had it from here.  I picked my phone up from Mom's pillow, thanked the 911 operator, and stepped away from the bed. 

One of the responders, Walter, asked me to follow him down to the main level of the house.  I told him that I needed to go check on my son who had been napping, but more than likely was up now due to all the commotion.  He nodded and followed me to the basement.  I scooped a frightened Bobby up, and sat down on the couch.  It was then that Walter announced to me that there are certain signs of life they look for when coming onto a scene, and that my Mom didn't have any of those signs.  He apologized and told me that my Mom was gone.  I remember sobbing and telling him I had a feeling he was going to tell me that.  Then I remember asking aloud "what am I going to do???  I can't do this (life) without my Mom". 

I walked up the stairs and Walter asked if I wanted to hand him Bobby.  I assured him that I was fine, but he seemed pretty insistent that I pass Bobby over, he said I didn't look well.  I handed Bobby over, and I called C.W. at work.  He answered, cheerful as ever and I just blurted out "Mom's dead."  I heard him burst into tears and tell me he would be right home, the whole time repeating "Oh my God, Mom...." over and over.

About this time, two police officers entered the house, and my first thought was "wait a minute....do they honestly think there was foul play here"?  The last thing I want to do is answer a bunch of questions.  I just lost my best friend, my Mom.  I've got at least 8 people walking around my home that I don't even know.  At this point, I have managed to call Mom's best friend, Carol and she and her husband are on their way down to the house.  Carol has called our pastor, who is also on his way.  Walter, the EMT is still with me, trying (unsucessfully) to calm me down.  My main concern at this point is not scaring Bobby.  I don't want him to be afraid to go near his Mommy.

 C.W. arrived about an hour after I discovered Mom, and I melted into his arms.  We stood at the entrance to our home, sobbing together for several moments.  Shortly thereafter Pastor Campbell arrived, and I relayed for the 3rd time in an hour how I found Mom.  I kept assuring him, yes, I know my Mom is already in heaven with our Savior.  She was a wonderful woman, her eternal life is something I have never questioned. 

Carol and Bob arrived, and I did my best to put on a brave face.  I relayed the story (again), and at that time the police blocked off the top 2 levels of our townhouse, to preserve the scene.  It's funny how when you're told you can't do something, you want the ability to.  All I wanted to do was sit with Mom.  I didn't like her being alone up there. 

I talked to several more people that day, but my wonderful husband fielded most of the phone calls.  Lord knows I wasn't up to the task.  I talked with my best friend, Jen, who was like a daughter to Mom.  I talked to my cousin, Laurie.  Then I dealt with my most difficult phone call.  How do you tell your Dad that the woman he kissed less than 96 hours ago was gone forever?  He thought I was joking at first, until I assured him that I most certainly would never joke about something like that.  I remember him saying "oh Sweetie, don't tell me that".  Then I had to tell him the whole story.  He kept saying "Oh, baby", over and over, sometimes referring to me, sometimes referring to Mom. 

Everyone escorted me out onto the deck so that when the funeral home arrived, I wouldn't have to witness my Mom being carried out of the house.  C.W. stayed inside, to make sure she was handled gently.  He'll never know how much that act meant to me. 

Carol said that she thought it was best that I had found Mom.  I think she's right.  I honestly think I handled the situation better than either my Dad or Hubby would've handled it.  Both my Dad and C.W. feel regret.  Dad is dealing with the guilt that comes with being away from Mom so much.  His visit, I believe, was divine intervention.  Neither Mom nor Dad knew that weeklong visit would be their last time together, but I think his visit was more than coincidence.  C.W. holds guilt for not being the one to find her.  You see, C.W. was my Mom's personal alarm clock.  Every morning, he would get up at 5 in the morning and wake my Mom up.  C.W. said that on that morning, he thought "I'll let her sleep in today".  He wishes that he could have spared me the trauma of finding her. 

I spent most of the day in a complete fog.  All I did was answer questions and hold my son.  I didn't even eat until my husband force fed me around 5.

I knew my life would never be the same.

Visit From Gramps!!

So, it only took about 13 months for it to finally happen, but my Dad finally met his grandson in June 2011. 

I was a little nervous as to how Bobby would take to his Gramps, but they got on famously.  It was really cool for me to watch my Dad interact with Bobby. 

It was pretty hard for me to watch Dad head back to Florida on the train, and as I kept trying to explain to C.W., I was sad for me, but really sad for Bobby to have to say goodbye for a couple more months, just when they were starting to bond.  Little did I know what the next week had in store for me....