I found this image posted on a friend's Facebook page. The sharp realization that I will never be able to jovially nudge a friend in the arm after seeing a sign like this and say "Aw, man, no wifi? Man, that sucks. I need to give Ter (my mom) a call anyways to check in" is a pain that I've never felt before.
The simple realization hit me: I'll never be able to make that phone call ever again.
I still forget that when my dad and I walk into our house alone that we are not taking a break to come home and eat after staying with her in the hospital. Unfortunately, this scenario was a familiar one for my dad and I, and as of late, my husband too. I had adjusted to a point where her feeling well was the anomaly. The cancer (metastatic melanoma) that she'd fought for so long was finally taking over, sixteen surgeries later. Yes, sixteen.
We are coming home, feeling a bit lost, to the house she loved that simply oozes her beautiful taste in photography and art. I look at the pantry and see her food still sitting there. All of her makeup is in her bathroom, which I used to borrow, with a reply of "It better be something I don't like because with your organizational skills, I will not see that again". (Fair statement.) She still gets mail sent to her. I want to believe that she is still there, hanging on, as she did for so long. She'll make it, I always thought. I knew she wasn't the bubbly, energetic "Ter" that used to be on the go from sunrise to sunset, but, she was THERE. However, some strange gut feeling told me that her amazing ability to bounce back wasn't going to topple the severity of the disease this time.
I was lucky enough to be able to spend the last two days with my mom at home before she got admitted to the hospital terminally. In the past, my mom had gone through unbelievably difficult surgeries (full hip and femur replacement due to spread of the melanoma, for example). If I would have asked my mom if she needed assistance to walk to the kitchen, she would have told me "Ame, go play on your laptop or whatever, I'm fine, give me a second." She'd get up with her crutches, cane, whatever necessary, and get herself up and around, and we'd soon be laughing and joking in the kitchen with some coffee even though she was in pain.
This time was different.
I offered to walk my mom to the bathroom and she asked for my help. I felt an unfortunate role reversal as I was now caring for my mom as she had cared for me when I was a child and couldn't do things on my own. I started crying and hid it from her as I knew that things were at that point where she had surrendered and was willing to rely on me for such a simple need as being able to get to the bathroom.
The pain of seeing someone you love in pain is something I cannot describe. You wish you could take any of the pain off of their shoulders and bear it yourself to give some relief. The pain of seeing her those two days at home then following in the hospital in the condition she was in rivals the pain of loss I am feeling now. It is a different type of pain, I suppose. Neither are a type of pain I wish on anyone.
Yesterday, I came across the last text message I had from my mom and I had to smile. It was "Amy please order the rest of your wedding photos they are going to shut down the access to your site. I love you." This was from a few weeks ago when she was still holding up as well as she could and was able to text and still briefly talk on the phone.
I can't believe I'll never get another message again.
I know that not everyone has the ideal relationship with their mother. I was lucky to have a wonderful one. However, I think that picture above, as "tongue in cheek" as it is more than just "call your mom". I mean, call your dad. Call your siblings or cousins. Call your friends. Call SOMEONE. Please. Just do it. I guarantee it will not be time wasted. Cherish the relationships you've got; cultivate the ones that are developing; repair the ones that need fixing.
Now, I am going to follow the sign's advice and "live", as I am lucky enough to do so.
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