Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Dear Mom,

Since I haven't been able to talk to you now for over nine days, I had a few things I wanted to tell you.

I wanted to tell you that you broke my heart when you left so suddenly.  
While I am forever grateful for the afternoon we spent together, just hours before you left, that doesn't nearly suffice for the time I still needed with you.

I wanted to tell you that all I have thought of in the last week is that day.  
That day when I didn't have any plans to come and see you, but decided on the spur of the moment to come over and watch football.  
Chris and Julien went to Auburn to watch the game, and while Addie was having a terrible day anyway, it only got worse when she discovered that her Julien and Daddy were heading to Auburn for some unknown reason because we all refused to say the word, "football".

I know we had talked about the delays that kept me from being at your house sooner and how my entire day was consumed by Addie's behavior.  
You know by the time I got to your house, 
Addie was, completely off the hook.  
That's why as soon as I parked the car, I got her and brought her straight in to you.

I sat her on your lap and turned and walked out to the car so I could take a minute to compose myself.
  I don't think I told you "thank you" for holding Addie in your arms and rocking her until she calmed down.  
Then again, I don't think it required a "thank you" because you were doing what you always did best - loving one of us.

I busied myself as you struggled to open the plastic on the American Girl note pad you were opening for Addie - because I knew you would eventually get it and you were taking care of Addie.
I know I didn't tell you "thank you" for letting me spend the entire afternoon with you.
I didn't thank you for letting me tell you story after story of nothing of real importance and I didn't thank you for actively listening - because you always did it so well.

I don't even know when I decided it was time to leave, I guess when it was starting to get dark, and I wanted to be back home before it got past Addie's bed time.
After all, it had been a horrible day with her, and I thought a night of rest would solve the problem.

I thought about calling you when we got home, just to let you know we made it safely.
I didn't.
I don't know why I didn't.
While I was getting Addie ready for bed, I kept replaying in my mind the last moment I saw you.
As tradition would have it, you had walked out onto the porch to wave bye to us as we were leaving.
I backed out of your driveway, all the way to the front of your house and rolled down the windows on the car so Addie and I both could wave and yell, "Bye GaGa!", "Bye Mom!", "We love you!".

I didn't tell you that when I stopped at the next stop sign that I had a fleeting thought.
I had just found out about two other people who had just passed away and I was thinking that I had to brace...for the third.
Because we both know, it always comes in three's.

I didn't tell you that when I got home, I had one of the worst night's with Addie.
She cried and cried and cried, until finally falling asleep, just minutes before the phone call.
The phone call that had me, Chris, Addie, and her bear racing towards your house.
I called Julien and told him to keep his phone right by him because I might need him.
He wasted no time making the decision to meet me at your house.
I knew when nobody called me back that I wasn't going to make it in time for you to hear the things I know I didn't tell you.

I hope you know that I never left your side except for a brief few minutes and that was to tell Julien that he could see you - one last time - if he wanted to.
Despite his current state, I immediately returned back into the house to you, because I couldn't miss one second of holding your hand, laying my head on your stomach or kissing your face.
I couldn't miss one second of getting to feel the softness of your hands.
The hands that were never anything but gentle and loving.

I stayed with you for hours, and asked the medics the same questions over and over.
I wanted to make sure that I would understand that you were already gone by the time they got to you and I wanted to make sure that their 45 minutes of futile efforts of resuscitation didn't hurt you.
I was offered condolences by everyone who raced to save you and just as you would have wanted, I thanked them profusely for their efforts.

I stayed with you until they made me leave, so they could take you away.
Letting them take you was the hardest thing I have ever had to do.
Julien held me tight while they took you away, but please don't worry, Addie never saw anything that would have upset her.
I made sure I wiped my face and dried my tears before I went to see her, because I know that you wouldn't have wanted me to upset her.

I was numb on the drive home.
It was early morning hours and I didn't dare make any phone calls, because it would have upset you had I woke someone up in the middle of the night.
As you know, as our luck would have it, we were still in the midst of only one working air conditioner in the house so we had been sleeping in the living room.
Just like the first night we brought Addie home from the hospital, we all camped out in the living room, because that's what we needed to do.
We were in shock, and we were heartbroken.

Mom, you would be so mad at me for some of the decisions I made, telling me I was being ridiculous.
I needed help and in the midst of me needing help, logic went out the door.
I couldn't even think rationally, and couldn't even imagine having to shop for clothes.
I took Julien to a professional who coordinated his clothes for him and had them tailored within minutes.
You wouldn't have wanted us to make such a fuss, but I didn't know what else to do, except let somebody else do it for me.
I don't even remember getting dressed, or walking to the car, much less standing and watching as
Julien figured out what clothes he needed.
You always taught us to be self sufficient and independent and never take from others, and in the midst of such heartache, it's hard to allow others to help, but I couldn't even think clearly.

Chris misses you.
No, no, not just because you always made sure you had a five course meal every time he was at your house.
He misses you because, how could he not?
You were always so kind, loving and giving.
You were so cautious with his feelings, always making sure that he was happy.
You loved him because he always takes care of us.
He is a phenomenal husband and father and everything a Mother hopes for in a son in law.

Mom, I don't know that I can tell you much about the next few days.
We all made decisions solely based on things we knew you wanted and didn't want, but the decisions were still not easy.

I waited a little while before telling Addie.
After all, what was I supposed to tell her?
Her precious, sweet, loving GaGa was suddenly gone from her life and I was left with not knowing how to give her any understanding.

How should I have known, I could barely comprehend it myself.
I allowed others to help and Addie has a beautiful book that may help her find an understanding.
Yet, she continues to ask about you - constantly.

She looked for you at your house, at the football game, and when I make phone calls, she wants to know if it's you that I'm talking to.

I wish it was Mom, because I miss you so terribly bad.

I left Julien's football game on Friday night because Addie wouldn't stop looking for you.
She had saved you a seat and was waiting for you.

While I wish it were not so excruciating trying to explain to her over and over, I have decided that I would rather endure the pain, than for her to stop asking about you.
I want her memories of you to always remain, because that's all she has left.
When she asked me, "Where's heaven?", it took all the strength I had to tell her that it's, "a beautiful place not so far away.".

She loves you so much Mom and you were always her biggest fan.

From the moment of birth, you never second guessed her.
You never told me she was going to be OK because you didn't know.
You never said she was perfectly fine, because you knew she wasn't.
You just held her and loved her and accepted her for everything that she is.
You celebrated her every accomplishment and never once spoke of any delay.
You loved when she studied your face, and found complete amusement when she was so nosy, because you knew she was watching and learning.

Julien is having a much harder time than I ever could have imagined.
He told me that he is truly going to miss watching Family Feud with you because it was so much fun trying to see which one of you would get the number one answer first.
He has been strong for me when I needed it and he has been patient with Addie.

You made him proud.
You were always there for him.
Every single event in his life, you were there.

On the rare occasions, when you weren't sitting in the stands, it was always due to something beyond your control and if he ever looked into the stands and didn't see you, he would always ask me where you were.

He loved talking to you, sharing stories, making fun of you when warranted, and trying to push you to the very brink of sanity.
More importantly, he wanted you to be there for him, but you already knew that.
You were there for every milestone and you knew how important it was for Julien to get his first car and, then later, play his first football game at his new high school.
You were there.
You were always there.

You have always been active and present in our lives and our children's lives.
Even when you didn't feel well, you were always there.
That is such a special part of who you were.

I can't remember how many times you drove me crazy by refusing to tell me what to do.
I can't count the number of times I called you, wanting you to tell me what to do with whatever difficult decision I was facing, and you always refused to give me the answer.
It was your way of making sure that I not only learned to trust my instincts, but also learned from my mistakes
and, boy did I
sometimes, not on the first try.
If I didn't figure it out the first time, and sometimes the second time, you never doubted me, and always kept on standing by me and encouraging me.

You were always my biggest fan, and come to think of it, you were lots of people's biggest fan.
You had a sweet, frustrating, and funny way of speaking your mind, and nothing was worse than the occasional silence, because that, without all doubt, indicated your disapproval - or even worse - your disappointment.

I never wanted to disappoint you.

I always wanted you to be proud of me, and I certainly challenged that on many occasions.
When I would get it right, you always made sure to let me know how proud you were, and I so very clearly remember when I met a goal at work, you were so proud of me.
I had kept it from you for months, just to be able to truly surprise you.
I will never forget the look on your face.
You always knew what to say, and what not to say.

I got my twisted sense of humor from you,
although you tried to deny it.

Even when you were not well, you always had a stupid joke or a hysterical comment.
There were many a priceless moments, and I always judged your level of health by your sense of humor and there was more than once that I sat in a hospital room next to you, fearing that I would never hear your voice again.

It wouldn't be long before I would see you again and your first comments would be to make fun of a doctor or nurse (always in a sweet way) and I would always reply that you must be feeling better.

I know how sad it made you to see Addie so fearful of the hospitals.
I also remember how we thought we had lost you after your open heart surgery.
You were so sick and in the hospital for so long, but as soon as you were moved to a step down unit, you were fortunate enough to have a room with a view of the parking lot and you got out of bed and sat in a chair by the window, just so you could wave bye to us.
I remember Mom.

Even during the most physically painful times, you pushed yourself to get better - for us.
You always got better.
I had prayed so many times for God to ease your pain and to alleviate your suffering and HE always did.

I never wanted to see you sick or in pain.
I can say that I am so thankful that you didn't suffer at the end.
You were safe in your own home, with someone you loved with all your heart, and you didn't suffer.
That is the peace I tried to make myself find while I sat on the floor holding your hand.
You didn't suffer and you are now eternally well.

The thing is Mom, the one thing I am that you never taught me to be is - selfish.
I'm very, very selfish.
I wasn't ready.
Nobody ever is I suppose, but I wasn't ready.
I'm selfish and I wish you were here.

I don't know what I'm supposed to do with the phone number programmed in my phone - the number you had for 33 years, the number I called when I needed you, when I wanted to see how you were doing, or when I just needed to hear your voice.

I don't know what to do with each approaching holiday, and worse, what to do about Julien and Addie's birthday's.
You were always there.
Julien will understand, Addie will not.

How am I supposed to explain that you didn't want to leave her and that you would be at her birthday party - if you could?
I'm selfish as hell Mom, so explain to me how I'm supposed to tell my sweet, precious baby girl that you won't be walking through our front door anymore?

I love you Mom and the pain is so excruciating that I don't know how to ease it enough for me to breathe.
I am thankful that you taught me the value of hard work, I have gotten up each morning to take care of my kids, I made grown up decisions, I kept appointments, and a couple days, I even found my make up.
I may have fed my kids cheese, crackers and Popsicles (totally didn't count because they were fruit and yogurt Popsicles) for dinner because by days end, I am so emotionally drained and every part of my body hurts, and I'm just trying to continue to breathe.

Because of the values you instilled in me, I got out of bed and went back to work.
I don't know how I did it.
Probably because I knew how disappointed you would be if I didn't do it.

Mom, I always told you that I loved you.
You knew I did.
That I have no doubt.

I need to hear your voice.
I remember so clearly how you would read to me when I was little.
After long days at work, coming home and taking care of us, you would still make time to read to me.

I need to hear you telling me that you love me, that you were going to kick my a&& or just to hear you say, "Jenn".
I need you to talk to me, to tell me it's going to be OK, because I promise you Mom, it doesn't feel like it's going to be.

I want you to be proud of me, but I don't know how to make you proud when I don't even know how to put one foot in front of the other right now.
You taught me to be independent and self sufficient, but when you were always there and setting such a perfect example for me, it makes it that much harder for me to accept your absence.

There's so much that I want to tell you, that I have already told you and new things that I want you to know, but right now, there's nothing else I'm able to say because the tears won't stop.

Promise me Mom that you will continue to hear me, because if I ever lost faith in you hearing me, I would lose the person you helped me become.

I love you Mom and I miss you and please just help me figure this all out.

I love you with every piece of my broken heart.


Jeania said...

So sorry for your loss! Sounds like you had an amazing mom and I can't imagine the pain you are going through! Sending prayers for your family!

Cindy said...

I'm so sorry for the pain you're experiencing. I pray your broken heart will mend soon and that your thoughts are filled with joyful, fun memories of your mom. She sounds like she was amazing.

Becky Blankenship said...

Jennifer, I am so sorry for your loss! Your mom was a dear friend. I loved her and more importantly respected her. She was brilliant but did not let on that she knew it and she had an amazing work ethic. I sensed when you came to CBA that you would be a lot like her. I was right. You also have her brains and her amazing work ethic. You also have my respect for the strength that you have displayed. I know she was a great mom to you guys. I will keep you and your precious family in my prayers!

BobbyTSkizoke said...

Still to this day tears come to my eyes and my throat swells up when I read this. Momma loved you so much and you did her proud with this post and with your life.

Love you,