Ten years ago today, I was sleeping on the floor of the sunroom at the hospital. It was the last day. We had been preparing for over a month and today would be that day.
You never realize how long it can take a person to die.
My mother was admitted to the palliative ward two days after her birthday. She had fought Stage 4 uterine cancer for 2 full years, but that Sunday in March it became apparent, she had done all she could. She stayed in the hospital for 32 days.
Today was the last day.
The nurses and other staff at Palliative were also her coworkers and friends of over a decade, so they moved us into the sunroom for Mom's final moments. Mom raised the funds to get the room built; it was her dream that saw it come to fruition, so was fitting she leave us in the room that she planned for others' comfort.
She didn't look like the mom I knew. The mom with fuzzy hair and brilliant eyes. The mom with strong will, quick wit, and caring heart. If I close my eyes, I can see her as the mom I knew who never changed despite any hairstyle, weight gain/loss, or denture removal.
If I close my eyes, I can see her on that last day. Battle scarred and war weary. I hate that image, but it's important.
Ten years ago, I leaned down for the last time, told her I loved her and to say hi to her cousin and my dog when she got to heaven. I wasn't scared for her.
I was scared for us.
Ten years has gone by since I lost my best friend and hero. I cannot say I regret experiencing the loss. I cannot say I wish it had never happened. Amazing things have come in the last decade that could not have happened without it.
When you lose your centre, you have to realign.
My family reached a level of independence (and yet, inter-dependence) we had never had before. My family began to spread out to explore what was beyond the borders of the "home" that no longer existed. My father and siblings each found amazing lives in far off places.
Personally, I learned to look outside my immediate family for support and friendship. I grew up. I don't believe The Guy and I would have the relationship we do if I remained the woman I was while my mother was alive. I don't know if that makes sense.
I relied on her so heavily, I believe our relationship could have been a bond insurmountable to anyone else.
Losing my mother to cancer has allowed me to be a support to others. It allowed me to bond with a client who lost his mother and was struggling. It allowed me to be present when friends saw their parent through cancer treatment. It has allowed me to be there when my other best friend died suddenly and unfairly. It allows me to be around for her children and show them there is hope and life despite the shit-tacular-ness of the present.
Somedays, I am still struck with grief. I am saddened she never saw my first house. She never met my insane dog that brought me back into the real world. She never met The Guy or saw us get married. She will miss all the big events I wanted her to be present for.
I think often we grieve the potential - the future - that could have been.
I would give anything to have my mother back, but I am thankful for all she gave me while she was alive and everything I have learned since.
Hope you're having a good time, Mom. Say hi to Grandpa, Auntie Carolyn, Uncle Lorne, and Dezi. Miss you.