My mom passed away September 28, 2014 and it was the worst day of my life. She and I were very close; she was my biggest fan, my biggest supporter, my confidant, my sounding board, and my best friend. She had many medical problems and had been getting sicker for the few years prior to her passing. I'm a nurse and was well aware of the state of her health, I went with her to most doctor visits and helped coordinate her care with her many physicians. In her last year, her mobility began to rapidly decrease, she needed oxygen most of the time. I installed a chair lift and a ramp from the porch to the sidewalk and got her a walker and a wheelchair. Her cardiac disease was progressing and we discussed possibly having another cardiac catheterization; but her health was fragile and the risk of complications were high. I told her I'd support whatever she wanted to do and she decided she didn't want to have any more procedures. She adamantly refused to go to a nursing home and honestly it was a struggle to keep her at home. We got her a home health aid and visiting nurse and my dad helped with her day to day needs and I would come up every weekend and some weeknights as well. I think my mom and I both knew she didn't have a lot of time left. One night I came up and had dinner with her then helped her to get ready for bed. I fell easily into my role of nurse and helped her get washed and dressed, I gave her a backrub with some lotion then got her set up in bed (I had gotten her a hospital bed and bedside table and got her a little TV (she loved to watch the game show network late at night). So while it was still her bedroom, it was also kind of like a hospital room. We had one of those conversations that a lot of people don't get to have...I told her I was scared of losing her and couldn't imagine my life without her, that she was the best part of my life and had made me the good person I was. She didn't say a lot but told me she loved me and couldn't be more proud of the person I had become. A few weeks later I got a call late at night from my father telling me while getting her to into bed she had collapsed and was taking to the Emergency Room by ambulance where she had had a heart attack and passed away. I screamed and cried like I had never done in my life. When I could talk my father told me I was too upset and he didn't want me driving but I told him I wanted to see her. I drove the hour and a half and walked into the ER in the early am hours and told the receptionist I wanted to see my mom. A lot of time I hear people say after hearing the death of a loved one, that they were in a daze and don't remember anything. I remember those few terrible hours in great detail and over two years later, I can still remember them.
After her death I spent two-weeks vacillating between putting up strong emotional barriers as I needed to arrange her funeral and take care of all of mom and dad's household issues and being apoplectic with grief. I had a friend call my boss and tell her I didn't know when I would be back...I thought about quitting, I didn't know how I was ever going to be able to be a productive person ever again. I had a hard time just talking. My very good friend Denise wanted to come over to be with me, to help, and I told her no...I was so much of a mess the thought of someone seeing me like that in person made me even more anxious. I was saving all of my energy for those interactions that I had to have...meeting with the funeral director, talking to my dad about arrangements and the house, asking some family to help with mom's room and her clothes. As soon as those things were over all I wanted was to be alone. The drives back and forth from my house to my parents were terrible. I cried almost the whole way, sometimes so bad I'd have to pull over for fear I would crash the car. After two-weeks I had recovered enough that I returned to work but I asked my boss to pass around the word that I couldn't talk about it, as the mere mention of my mom would send me into a fit of grief and I wouldn't be able to function.
So, here I am, over two-years since her passing and I still think about her every day. I still cry. I recently heard the term "high functioning depressive" and I think that's me. There is no doubt in my mind that I am depressed but I'm also able to work and take care of my pets and house. I get up every day and shower and dress and do all the things "normal" people do, but I also feel like there's not much in the world for me...but I'm still trying to get better. Which brings me to this years Mother's Day, which is a pretty rough day anymore. This year I wanted to try to do something that might help me feel a little better, if even only a tiny bit better.
The Buy Nothing Project. Buy Nothing is an organization that encourage local neighbors to post things you might no longer want and give them away for free. The idea is to divert things from landfills, gift usable items to others in the spirit of giving, and to meet local neighbors and foster a sense of community. There are many many Buy Nothing groups all over. You can see if you have a group local to you by checking the website. This year I decided to make a cake in honor of my mom and to give it away to another family who was celebrating Mother's Day with their mom. It was a nice experience, when I posted my give on the Facebook group there were lots of other stories by people of how they struggled with Mothers Day without their mom. It was nice to feel that sense of community and that I wasn't alone. I chose one of the neighbors who asked to be considered for the cake and he came over and picked it up, he was going to be having a party with his mom and their grand kids. It was nice to know that there were others out there in the world thinking about my mom besides me and that they were celebrating life with their mom.
I still miss my mom...a lot, but I'm trying to feel better.
Kevin S. Devine
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