When I walk around the lake at the Voice of America Park with Arthur, as I often do, I get about to the opposite end of the lake before my thoughts inevitably turn to Mom or Dad or both. Something about walking, or driving in a car, does that to me.
I never anticipated how difficult and painful it would be to lose my parents.
It’s been nearly nine months since they died and the pain of loss, when it hits, nearly knocks me off my feet. I had hoped to be better by now. And I suppose I am better if you consider that a lot of the time, most of the time, I am fine with no apparent pain and no tears. But the tears do still come, and often with surprise. I’m learning a lot about grief and loss.
The permanency of it all is starting to sink in and may be the reason I’ve backslid some on my grieving.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do when I can’t talk to you anymore,” I told my mom leaning over her Hospice bed with tears streaming down my face. “I’ll have to find another way to talk to you.”
“Yes. You will,” she answered.
December and the beginning of January were a blur of activities. Hospitalizations, legal paperwork, nursing home visits. Camping out on the hard hospital lobby sofa. Speech therapists telling me Dad wasn’t swallowing well enough to take anything orally. Questions. What now? Small notebooks with phone numbers. Larger notebooks with pertinent information that expanded daily. A couple baskets of Dad’s meager possessions labelled with his name. Dad’s first visit to the nursing home dining room. My parents’ bedroom with piles of clothes on the floor from frantic searches and chaotic packing. A cloth patch I hand-sewed on an afghan to label with Mom’s name. Dad’s visit to see Mom at Hospice. Wheeling my overnight suitcase through an icy parking lot.
By the time there was time to talk, Mom was under heavy medication for pain and nausea. And there wasn’t time.
So I don’t know what she thought about everything that was happening.
“I don’t know how you girls are doing all of this,” she said in one lucid moment.
“I’m going to be in that group of people who beat this,” she said shortly after her bleak diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, her indomitable spirit rising again.
“Sometimes you’re better off just getting through things quickly,” she told me as I drove her home from a doctor’s visit when her blood pressure was uncontrollably high.
We got through it quickly. But somehow I don’t feel better off.
I miss my mom.