My mom died tonight.
This isn't a post where I wax poetic about her life or show a bunch of nice photos. I don't even know why I'm writing this, I suppose because I don't know what else to do or where to turn. Although I have had great support from friends. I think I need to write to get some things off my chest, how I'm feeling, and so on. So don't expect this blog entry to be pretty. Or nice, or whatever normal blogs about parent death are like.
I don't know what happened. I know my dad found her unconscious and the paramedics were called and performed CPR and took her to the hospital. I was in the kitchen baking cookies when I got a message on Facebook from my sister. I told Henri what was happening. Then I went back into the kitchen and kept making cookies. I knew while I was in there that she was gone. You hear people talking about that stuff and I never believed it before, but it's true. I really did know. When I went back in the living room to check Facebook a few minutes later, my sister told me that she hadn't made it.
I went back to my cookies. Henri came in to make sure I was okay and I remember saying in a haze, "If it was me, she wouldn't have stopped what she was doing." Just saying that made me feel awful. I had a lot of stuff to do; things to pack, crab tank to clean, and a ton of other chores and I just did them slowly and pathetically with a lot of nosebleeds and crying inbetween.
For a long time now I thought that my mom dying would change something for me. I sometimes hated her so much that it wouldn't have fazed me if she had died. Especially in recent years after I found out more about her past, and I tried every year to wish her a happy birthday and got nothing but spite in return. I have known for a very long time that there would be no second chance. That we would never get along before she died. That hurt, but I had accepted it. But now, there is no hypothetical future. There is no option to dial her just to hear her say something mean to me. There's nothing. There's no chance of anything changing. She's gone.
But it didn't change me. It wasn't a solution to our bad relationship. Her passing has not changed how I feel about myself, or my past, or her, it hasn't made anything better and I am not at peace with it the way I thought I would be. She's just gone. I feel an intense sadness and of course all of the nice memories I have of her are coming to the surface which is bittersweet, but the only other thing I feel is an extreme vulnerability.
When you have two parents, everything seems natural. Whether you love them or hate them or just see them on holidays or whatever...you're still in the bell curve of normal. When one parent dies, that all falls to pieces, because you now have one parent less. One parent left. That one parent is all you have and suddenly they seem so fragile and breakable and like something you need to lock away to prevent anything from happening to.
I haven't spoken to my dad. I know that when I go back to America I will try to call him and reach out and see if he will let me help him. I'm pretty sure he won't. But I'm going to try anyway, because it's the right thing to do and because he's my dad. I feel terrible for whatever he's going through, and at the same time I wonder how he feels. He didn't treat my mother well. He doesn't know how to treat anyone well. These are things again, I don't like thinking, but I've been thinking them anyway, because they're true.
One thing that is comforting is that my mom has children who she allowed to be a part of her life. She has children she loved and children who love her back. They will cherish every last moment they had with her and I'm sure she knew that they will be her legacy. It wasn't me, but she did have that comfort. When my Nonna died, she also had a daughter that loved her. It wasn't my mom. It was my aunt.
And in some strange way I feel like she isn't gone. Not completely. As an atheist, I don't have the luxury of believing that her soul or spirit is anywhere, in any place, good or bad. I know that she believed that, and I hope very much that before she died she at least had the hope that somewhere better was around the corner. But there are qualities in my mother that I share, even if I've always complained about them. I look like her. So do my sisters, and their sons. Immortality is achieved through children. So in that sense, I feel that she lives on. I spoke with Derik today and he said something that resonated; that I was more like her in a good way, than any of my siblings. Among my mother's good qualities were being headstrong, stubborn, adventurous, and in charge of herself. Even though all those traits I share and my parents despised them in me most of the time, it's something that ties me to that family line. I guess I wouldn't have those qualities were it not for who my mother was.
Everyone has been telling me to not feel guilty, that I've done all I could. I attempted for years to remedy things with both of my parents and every single time I was shot down, painfully so. I eventually learned to cope without them in my life, but I still cared. I called her for her birthday. I actually just sent them a Christmas card a week or so ago. I don't know if they got it. I know that I can't live life feeling guilty about how awful our relationship was. But those questions of course have came up. What if I had called one more time. What if I had only tried a little harder. They're useless questions now.
I'm fortunate that I have good friends who will take care of me while I'm in a state of extreme emotional distress. I'm fortunate that my mom had good relationships with her other children and with people in the community. I'm happy that parts of her carry on, both in my siblings and in me, and I will try to be more proud of the traits she's given me. I don't know how to deal with everything that I'm feeling, but I know that I won't have to deal with it alone.