Thanksgiving 2008 was on November 27th. Thankfully that day is etched in my memory, even 10 years later. The whole family was gathered at my brother’s house in Charlotte. Kids, grandkids and most especially, my mom. She had been diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis but I was an optimist when I read the facts. SOME people lived for 20 years or more with the disease so I expected that to be true of Mom. The days following Thanksgiving were filled with pain, each of her breaths more and more suffocating until she passed away on December 11th. I’ve spent a decade trying to be able to block the memories of her surprisingly quick-but also slow-death…the sounds of the equipment, the smells of the hospital, the feeling of helplessness and grief and sleeplessness, the visual of her body, unable to be sedated as she was intubated for days, the confusion we were all experiencing as she tried to communicate with us, mostly unsuccessfully. God it was horrible. So I’ve relived those memories a thousand times and now I want to start mindfully remembering the day before that all started.
It was chilly, the leaves were brown. There was a fire in the fireplace. She and dad took a walk around the lake with my kids. They don’t remember that walk, but I do. Eli was just 1 and the others were 4, 5 and 7. Their cousins were there and kids were running everywhere. I have a vivid memory of mom sitting at the table, doing crafts with the kids. I’m sure she bought the foam crafts at Michaels and prepared for that time. She always did. She loved the grandkids so much and I wonder how many minutes of each day she thought of them. Later she was laughing and laughing as some of us played cards around that table. I don’t remember what was funny but I can hear her laugh. Even later in the evening we sat around the living room and Eric played 80s ballads on the piano while we all sang/screamed along. Mom didn’t know most of the words, but again, I can see her sitting there, looking around so pleased.
She woke up the next day coughing and the rest is history. It’s all history.
I took today off. I had planned on taking a day off before I start working full time in January, just to be alone in the quiet house and get my office organized, take a walk and breathe. Last week I realized that today was the actual 10 year anniversary of that beautiful Thanksgiving. The last time I saw my mom smile or heard her laugh. The last time she hugged me. We didn’t know. It’s been 10 years and it’s still so sad. I just miss her. I suppose I always will. I stare at her handwriting in her 2008 calendar and touch the paper and wish it could give me more. I look at a picture and wish it would speak to me. Just one more conversation, one more afternoon. How in the world did she deal with 16 year old me? I need to know! That’s just one question I’d ask.
Once when my mom and I were home alone for dinner, she made me noodles with a slice of American cheese melted on top. She let me watch Mr. Rodgers while I ate on the floor of the family room. She loved me like that.