Tag Archives: death

Screw Resolutions – 2015: How are you going to spend your time?

31 Dec

Screw Resolutions – 2015: How are you going to spend your time?.

Screw Resolutions – 2015: How are you going to spend your time?

31 Dec

Screw Resolutions – 2015: How are you going to spend your time?.

How Do You Say Goodbye?

6 Sep

“Chrissie, it’s Carol….should I answer it?” Hubs asked, somewhat bewildered, as he held out his cell phone towards me.

Carol…..my mother. Why would she be calling Hubs cell while we were on vacation?  We were relaxing on the  beach in Ocean City Md, enjoy the sun and sand for our last day of vacation. What was so important that couldn’t wait until we got home?

“Hello.”  I said impatiently.

“Hi.”  She sounded reluctant. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. I had a CAT scan of the abdomen and it looks like I have  malignant tumors on my liver. I am waiting to hear from the MAYO clinic but things are not looking good. ”

I was standing on the beach, wind in my hair and sun in my eyes, but in an instant all that eclipsed and everything went dark.  Our relationship has been distant for the last several years and I had no idea she was not feeling well, never the less,  going for testing. I sat down, feeling sick.  My mind immediately flashed back to a recurring dream I’ve had in the past 6 months in which my deceased father comes to me and tells me to bury the hatchet, let her live her life and don’t take her abandonment personally. Our once close relationship shifted after my father passed away in 2005. After a year or so of mourning,  she lost interest in the family and morphed into someone I did not recognize. With no apologies or regrets, she sold the house, discarded boxes of  treasured family mementos, and announced she was moving to FLA with her new boyfriend.  She never looked back, and at no time seemed to miss any of us. Her telephone calls were distracted, her visits to us are brief and obligatory. All of that cut deep into my heart over the years, I’ve missed her terribly, walking around like a jilted daughter. And now I was hearing that her time was growing short. My head started spinning. I ask her about 3,000 questions, all of what you would expect: Are they certain its malignant? Do you have any symptoms? What stage? Etc. She is vague. She makes it extremely clear that her boyfriend  is her medical proxy and she has no intention of traveling back up to the NY/NJ area for treatment or a 2nd opinion. Basically, the 4 of her children have no say in her medical care, should she be unable to make decisions herself. That feels like yet another rejection added to the devastating news like some sort of decrepid cherry on top of a macabre sundae.

My mind is reeling. My mother and I were so different in so many ways, I remember as a child often questioning her if I was in fact adopted. I was never ‘my mother’s daughter’ so to speak, and I know she failed to understand me as much as I failed to grasp the things that were important to her. Yet we shared a sense of humor, and a history rich in experience and emotion.  Some good years,  some bad.  She stayed with me after the birth of all three of my natural-born children, She held my hand when I needed it, and stood by me regardless of what I did. Many times through the years we clung to each other for support.  As I matured, our roles would reverse, and sometimes it was I who comforted her. She was my mother, and she used to be my best friend. I’ve missed her so much over the past several years, and I’d let that hurt form into a nerve so raw that I found it easier to avoid her rather than to relate to her on her limited terms. And now she was telling me those chances will never come again.

As the call ended we exchanged affections, despite the traffic jam erupting inside my mind.  I managed to bind it at the seams of my heart with a shallow thread, so I could choke out the words assuring her I will pray for her healing, and that I love her.  I hang up the phone just as my youngest child runs up the sand dune, tugging at me. She wants to play with me near the water’s edge. Robotically I walk with her as she tugs me towards the surf.  I pass people along the way and smile sheepishly. I know I look normal but inside my head is flooded with static like that of a white noise machine running like non stop background clatter. My little girl and I sit and dig. The day is breezy, and a soft ocean wind is blowing my daughter’s  strawberry blonde curls back far enough for me to see her cheekbones. The same Eastern European high cheekbones passed down to four generations that I know of.  From my grandmother to my mother, from my mother to myself, and now from me to her, the youngest member of our family. At 2 1/2 I know she will never remember my mother, and that thought provokes yet another emotional spasm I struggle to stifle in front of my sweet girl.   It feels as if my heart is leaking and pouring out into the sand, mixing with the salt water of the tides.  I think to ask my mother to write each of her grandchildren a note to remember her by, but I choke as I imagine myself saying those words out loud.  What hurts equally is that I am not sure she would do it, even if I asked.

Snapping me back to the moment, My little one  suddenly giggles and squirms with delight as the crisp ocean water hits her feet. She reaches over and hugs me, a wet, sandy hug so raw and visceral that if she wasnt grinning, I’d think she was reading my mind.  I contemplate the complex relationship of mothers and daughters as I watch the surf  rise and recede. Like the years I’ve spent being my mother’s child, some waves are jarring and choppy,  knocking me to my feet, disorienting me as I struggled to regain my footing.  Other waves (and years) are calm and serene offering a cool comfort while I tried to navigate the hot sand of the world around me. The breakers crash and rise, reminding me of the forty-five years of being her daughter. Some years we struggled and some were effortless.  Anger and heartache, elation and celebration, she saw me through it all.  Her rejection stung like no other, but her tender maternal care made me the kind and loving person that I am. At that moment I realized that everything I know about love was taught to me by my mother. And the love that I feel for her, despite the last few years, is as fierce and abysmal as the ocean.

I’ll miss her for the rest of my life.

Photo credit: Justina Anastasi August 2011  Ocean City, Maryland.

As always my friends, thank you for reading, and if you can spare a good thought and a prayer for Carol, I’d appreciate it.

Copyright 2011 Livelaughloveliquor. All Rights Reserved.  No reproduction in any medium without prior written consent of the author is permitted.