I have not shared with my blog audience, that I lost my mother back on the second of November. In addition to medical issues, she also had a long history of mental illness, and she simply gave up the will to live.
This created a strain on her relationships with others, and truly broke my heart, especially around the holidays. While celebrating with friends and family, thoughts of my mom home alone in her apartment always nagged at me. Knowing there was nothing I could do to make the holidays a happy time for her did little to ease my guilt.
In the weeks that have gone by since her passing, I am saddened by the fact that she is gone. All she ever was has been reduced to memories, and the thoughts she jotted down on paper, and in her journals. A thought will pop into my head, and I think, “I should tell mom about this.” and realize I can not.
I catch myself wondering how she lived her last day. What did she eat? Did she laugh? Did she cry? Did she know? I wonder if at the very end she was afraid. I pray she felt no pain.
In addition to the deep sorrow of her passing came the responsibility that lands in the laps of the survivors. An obituary to be written. A celebration of life. The handling of the remains. The emptying of her apartment.
Many people came together. There were some tears, some laughter, some anguish, some petty bickering, and even a sense of relief for some of us as we shared and learned from each other what it was that drove my mother’s relationships with those in her life.
Also, as in with all situations like this came the financial burden. Nothing in this world comes free, especially not death. People missed time from work and traveled great distances to come together. Some loved ones living very far away were not able to grieve with the rest of us, and that hurts almost as bad as the loss.
There is still a lot of work to be done. My sister and I were able to get into my mother’s apartment and start sorting through her life. Her apartment was warm and tidy. Standing there in her living room you could almost expect her to come in from checking her mail.
I wanted to leave it all as it was, but that can not happen. The reality is that she is gone, and her belongings needed to be dealt with. Her apartment complex has a waiting list. I felt like a criminal invading her private spaces. I was filled with sorrow as her things we being shifted from where she had placed them, to a jumble of piles, boxes, and bags. In less than half an hour, her apartment no longer looked like a home.
Now it is Christmas. For weeks I found myself selecting a gift for my mom and then remembering she is gone. I think of her at this time of year when she wasn’t so sick, and I smile.
I also find myself overwhelmingly grateful for the way her friends and my family and friends came together to help me. From the simplest little things like making sure I ate, up to large financial contributions. People came together and shared this burden with me, and I want to thank them all.
I won’t single them out by name. They know who they are. They did not do the things they did for personal recognition. They did them out of love. They did them out of respect. They did them because they are good people.
Without them, I would have been overwhelmed. I have never before had to deal with the technicalities involved in the death of a loved one. I could never have pulled off a memorial like the one we had.
My mother had no insurance, and what little money she did have on hand appears to have been stolen from her apartment. Because it was thirty days before I could get into her apartment, her direct payments for cable/phone/internet still came out of her checking account and resulted in a negative balance.
Without the generosity of my family and friends, and my mother’s friends, the financial burden on our single income family would have been devastating. The cost of gas alone for the trips from my home to hers have totaled more than $200, and there are more trips to come.
Without my friends and family, and the friends of my mother, not only would Christmas have been severely impacted for Jen, William, and me, but our home would be without heat. Our van would have been in disrepair, and my animals would be without food.
There is still a long way to go. Bills need to be paid. The final stages of cleaning out her apartment still need to be completed, Thanks to all of you, I am in a good place mentally, and financially to pull it off, and finish what needs to be done.
I can never thank you enough for what you have done for my family. All I can do is pray that God recognizes you for all you have done for me these last few months, and I can promise that I will do my best to act as you have when I am called on to do so!
Merry Christmas to you all!