I’m not sure but I think I was sitting at the kitchen table with my 12-year-old daughter, who was getting ready for her 7th grade play, when the call came.
Urgent. Hospital. Brain actively bleeding. Trying to stabilize her. Intensive care.
My mother had collapsed while working at the computer in her home office. She was taken to the emergency room but the local hospital was not equipped to handle what happened to her. By the time I talked to a doctor, they were doing the paperwork to transfer her to a hospital with a neurological ICU.
I woke my 2-year-old at 4 a.m. the next morning so we could catch a 5:30 flight. I was by my mom’s side by 7 p.m., her important documents—the health proxy, power-of-attorney, and living will—in hand.
“I looked at the scans, Jenny,” her doctor of twenty years—more a friend than a physician—told me on the phone that day. “‘Massive’ would not be too big a word for the bleed.”
Five days after the stroke my mother died. At her home. My 12-year-old held her right hand, my 10-year-old held her left. Those were the worst five days of my life, but at least I know she died surrounded by more love than the room could contain.
Ever since that phone call I’ve been living underwater.
It wasn’t until yesterday that I was able to start up the computer. There’s a package my mother sent me that I cannot open. The day she collapsed she bought tickets to come visit us.
It feels like someone has stabbed me with a hundred daggers, in my stomach, in my back, in my neck, but most of all in my heart.
Mom, I wish I could have gotten there sooner. I miss you so much. I’m not ready for you to be gone.
This holiday season, be extra kind to your mom, tell her you love her, do something special for her.
You only get one, no matter how imperfect she is.
And when she dies, you can’t ever get her back.