I miss my Mama. I don’t know any other way to put it. I miss her. Every day. Every night. Every morning. Every milestone. Every defeat. Every victory.
Today, April 24, was her birthday. Ten years ago on the morning of her birthday I called a nursing home to inquire about admitting her. We thought she was having a reaction to medication after surgery and that while we were maintaining things, we weren’t helping her. We hoped monitoring would help us find an answer we couldn’t spot. It didn’t because she had suffered a small stroke and was to soon suffer a bigger one.
Nonetheless, I will always feel like a traitor for making the call to the nursing home. On her 82nd birthday, no less. Even though it was the best solution we could find at the time, and we all agreed, it was me who made the call, who set things into motion. It was me. I did it. And no one made me do it. I offered to do it. I knew whoever made the call would never get over it, and it was my turn.
I did it by long distance, while on the road, traveling back to Kansas for my job. I didn’t even have the decency to turn around and go back to Kentucky and take her myself. I was a coward. I offered, but my brother, Jim, spared me, and I was quick to let him do so.
A traitor and a coward. Not the best of a person.
So, as this time of year approaches, I desperately seek happiness, to try and forget that I’m a traitor and a coward. But, there is no escape from time. And as the calendar dates loom, I become more eager to find joy. I look for it around every corner. I try to grab onto it whenever I see a glimmer of it. I hope for experiences that will make me forget my failings for a little while.
Life is full of the “what ifs,” and if we’d known how close the end was we wouldn’t have made that call. She died May 11, so there wasn’t much time left. When we laid her to rest two days later on that Mother’s Day afternoon I knew I would never again feel the same and I knew this time of year would be even more of a struggle than it already was for other reasons.
On her birthday the first year after she died I sobbed for hours. I cried until, literally, my pillow was wet through. I don’t know that I’ve ever cried so much before or since. At one point I said aloud, alone in my bed, “I can’t keep living this way.”
Quickly the answer came to me that I had only two choices. I either had to kill myself or I had to go on. I went on. Sometimes grace is only to be found in surrendering. The circumstances in which we find ourselves sometimes offer no other choice. We must proceed.
Ten years later, that’s what I’m still doing – moving ahead. This year Easter, a time of renewal, fell on the same day as her birthday. It seems a good season for a fresh start..