Our last days together & how I miss you.

 Grief : Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

Mal & Mom @ University of Wisconsin.
Mom’s Night Out!
Showing Mom some extra Lovin’

I had a lot of grief right after my mom passed away but I had so much to do I had to put it on the back burner and that’s never a good thing. My Mom had been “sick” my whole life, you name it she had it … not really but it seemed like that to me. She had some spats with cancer, a couple different types, then you have the heart issues and lung issues and not having a lung because it got removed. Well most of it had gotten removed. Then you have the double transplant (kidney, pancreas) when I was 6 then 15 years later, she had another kidney transplant and it weakened her immune system even more. The list can go on and on and on. Nothing will change besides the fact that she doesn’t have to deal with any of that anymore and that’s probably the best thing I can think about.

Now being an adult and a mother myself I couldn’t imagine telling my kids now that “I need a transplant” and then after that all these other things are going to happen to me but I will live as long as I can. When you are being told that “your mom may die” this year, this trip to the hospital throughout your life you can’t imagine it when it truly happens.! So, I’m going to try and tell you about my mom’s last trip to the hospital.

So, when My mom went into the hospital the last time it was like any other time when she didn’t have an appointment. You know she spent hours and hours in the germ filled E.R. waiting for her results or just a room to get in her into, this time it took 10 hours to be specific. Get her to a room and visit a little more, in true “Mom” fashion I had her favorite snacks and a drink or two that she would want and an activity you know my favorite coloring pages of course and a playlist of good songs. We get new nurses and CNA’s and get her comfy in bed. After they leave, my sister and Fred leave. It’s been a long day for everyone. I stay and visit with my mom with the lights on low and we talk for a while I tell her I’ll stay a couple hours but then I need to leave so that Mitchael can go to work. She doesn’t have any issues with it but the nurse was telling me I better go home and sleep It’s always nice when you get friendly nurses. She also told me about the vending machine with drinks in it. You know the ones that help you stay awake.

The next day I went to go visit her with the kids since they got a room and they were doing a bunch of tests so we waited till early afternoon before my bunch of crazies came up to see her. We got to visiting and the loudness was to much so Ashley and Fred took McKinley and Maverick to the vending machine, a kids dream shop, candy, cookies, chips galore … Mom and I got the chance to have a private talk basically what I wanted to know about the bad things you don’t ever talk about, also we were talking about my plans for the next week since my family was supposed to leave on Wednesday the following week to head to Yellowstone. I told her I didn’t have to go and Megan would understand, she said “No I want you to go. I’ll be Fine”. Then they all stormed into the room we hung out for a little longer and we said our goodbyes.

McKinley & Maverick visiting MiMi!

The next day I wasn’t coming up until the evening anyways because they told us they were going to try and do dialysis for almost 6 hours, which for my mom is basically a whole week at dialysis because how small she is and the pressure it puts on her body and heart. Plus, when you do dialysis at a hospital, only the patient is allowed to go and nobody, let alone somebody with kids, wants to spend the day in the hospital room without the person you are there to see in the room…  #hospitaltruths

 

I was getting our stuff around for the kids because tonight we were going to drop them off to Mitchael’s parents since they got to visit her the night before and enjoy some Mimi cuddles. I then get a phone call frantically that my mom had gotten back to her room and coded. If you live in a bubble and don’t know what that means its NOT good. They kicked everyone out and wouldn’t say anything and rushed her to the ICU that night. We got to visit slowly one by one then two by two till most everyone went home. We brought back food and drinks for the people that stayed and went back in to hang with mom once everyone left and it was down to the four of us. She was in her room and we walked in with just our drinks and we told her she should try and look at the menu and try to eat. The nurse handed her the menu and said you can eat off this list then moms true colors came out… she got a little lippy with the nurse because they told her she had a special diet and yes normally you do but my mom was the exception most of the time but not tonight the nurse said. Well Mitchael gave her some of his mellow yellow and she broke out in song. “they call me mellow yellow that’s right!” and we all just started laughing, my sister was being a worry wort and said mom you shouldn’t have!  Mom said “shut up Ashley I can have a drink if I want, I’m a Big Girl.” Even if it wasn’t for Mitchael’s pop she would’ve had something that she wasn’t supposed to have that night. Since it was Midnight and mom was doing good acting like her normal self, giving the nurses, Ashley and Fred a hard time, we decided we were going home. We gave her Loves and Hugs and told her we would bring her back some goodies tomorrow if she ate something that was on her list and got some sleep. So, we started home, well technically we drove an hour to get our kids then another hour home to be in our beds way late because you sacrifice sometimes for the ones you love.

The next morning Mitchael left to fulfill a promise that he had made months before, I was at home with the kids getting things around so we can all go up together and see mom and bring her some goodies like I said the night before. Her Favorite thing down by us were blueberry and lemon poppy seed muffin tops. Then I got a phone call the phone call that you never want to get … It was Fred on the phone calling to tell me that I needed to come up now because it was important. I started to cry and think damn what happened I just talked to her 7 hours ago… Well 7 hours can change for the bad faster than I had ever thought. I arrived at the hospital after making more than 10 calls between my husband and sister and dad and sister in-law etc.…. That hour-ish drive was the worst for me because of the unknown that was waiting for me at the hospital. I start to walk into the ICU and the nurses stop me and tell me that they don’t think it’s the best thing for me to bring them (my kids) into the room where my mom was. I looked at her and said I make those choices for my kids not you. Not going to lie it angered me but I also knew it was coming from a good place. I let them walk in and tell their Mimi one last good bye where she could say bye back and squeeze their little bodies. I didn’t pressure them to stay long at her bedside I let them wander and say hi to the other people in her room and decided that YouTube would work out as a great distraction until the short time when their aunt could come and pick them up. My husband made it to the hospital and got to say goodbye. He was there for us, to support each other in this hard time. In those few hours before my mom passed away with her room filled with the people that she loved and that loved her. From family to friends, it was just a flash of memories.

Finding Butterflies at Fredrick Meijer Gardens.

I remember showing up with people already there to people one by one showing up and walking through her doors and curtains. I remember calling people and telling them that mom isn’t doing good and it looks bad and not knowing what else to tell them. thinking to myself is this the year? Is this the time that my mom is going to die? Is this the way that I saw this journey come to an end? I remember my mom wanting to move up in her bed and I went to go pick her up in a scooping form under her armpits and her arms wrapped around me in a hugging way. Then trying to stand up and she wouldn’t let go she held me and embraced me with the strongest hug that I had felt in such a long time. Mind you I’m awkwardly on the bed with my mom’s friends supporting my butt because she didn’t let go and they could start to see my knees shake from crying and hugging her. She soon let go and I gave her a kiss on the check and whispered a little something in her ear for me and her to know.

Then the three of us (Fred, Ashley and I ) talked with the nurse outside the room and she said that most likely it would happen soon and because of that the monitors in the room were to become black and they would watch them from the desk. This is so nothing would shock us and it would be as peaceful as they can make it. We returned to her room did a little more talking and then they brought in the cart…. The cart of goodies, the cart you see when you say your final goodbyes. It’s the gesture that they are trying to make this easy and comfort you without being awkward and just going into hugging everyone.

I went back up to talk to my mom, to pray with my mom, to tell her that I don’t like to see her like this, that I needed to stop being selfish because I wanted her here with me, with us!  But I don’t need her here if it’s too much for her to handle, if it’s too much hurt and if she just wants to feel free of everything. She had a couple moments with each of us and we got to have a kiss or a sweet hand grip or a full body embrace. We all still had small conversations between us all and then a couple of us had noticed that we really couldn’t tell if her chest was going up and down. We then walked out and the nurse that had dealt with us all day told my aunt, husband and I that the doctor needed to come in and check on her. My heart hurt at this moment the most because I knew what he was going to say I have waited to hear it in real life for years. He had walked in greeting us all and said he was going to take a moment and check over mom. He then said something to the nurse and turned to us with a face I will always remember  and Said “ I’m Sorry” followed by his condolences and if we needed anything to let anyone know and that they will continue to check on us until we feel its time to leave.

Then I can recall everyone crying more than we had all morning, the silent embraces and the walking out of the room because what else could we do now. Well I knew that I had to collect myself and try and call back all the people that I had called earlier and tell them my mom has passed. How could I comfort them if I wasn’t next to them, how could I tell them it’s okay she doesn’t have to have any more test or go to dialysis again, no more transplants or ICU visits. I just cried with them and then when we stopped, I said we would be in touch soon. I remember calling my dad’s phone to tell him and Lisa (my step mom) answered and I said “mom died” and her voice changed and she said “I’m so sorry Mal I’m so sorry….” We talked a little more and my dad said “I’m sorry Mal and told me not to worry about the kids we will have them and you do whatever you need to do, We Love you and will see you later. We said good bye and I hung up, I remember sitting in this little nook in the ICU area just watching people walk by and me crying and trying not to cry all at the same time because nobody likes to see people cry let’s be honest it’s awkward. Then Mitchael came around the corner and found me and stood there with me and showed me the support I needed. He let me continue making some more phones calls and showed he was next to me when I needed him but also, he showed me his grief.

 

Our Last Mother’s Day together.

I wasn’t the only one that lost my mom in my family we all did including him. I remember going back into her room to sit with her and Ashley, her husband John and Mitchael and not wanting to leave. Thinking this is something that I didn’t want to become a reality and how when I left that day, I wasn’t leaving with her.  I was just leaving with a green drawstring plastic bag and her belongings inside. Now I left that day not wanting to remember the way that she looked because she didn’t look as fabulous as she normally did and that was harder for me than I thought. But let me tell you she looked good for her wake and funeral. My sister and I went to pick out her outfit and all her jewelry because she can’t feel naked with no jewelry that wasn’t my mom. Then my sister, Aunt and I even went to do my mom’s hair and make-up and for me that was a part of my healing. I’m going to be honest it was something that I had never done before but so glad that I did it with them! I thought it was going to be harder process for me but I knew that I was able to visibly see her one last time with our kids to say goodbye and have them remember how fabulous their Mimi looked compared to her last day they saw her in the hospital.

 

 

I remember that in the week after my mom had passed that so many people reached out to me. People that I hadn’t talk to in years, people that knew my mom, so many people reached out and that felt amazing until you have to respond to them all.  But with that only a handful reached out to Mitchael and most were just asking how I was doing. Someone came up to us and asked how Mitchael was doing and he said “okay” then Mitchael thanked him after our friend told him “I’m sorry for your loss.”  It’s true you normally don’t think of spouses first hand, it’s normally the person that took the lost first hand. But truth be told our family took the lost, I lost my mother, Mitchael lost a Mother in law, and our kids lost their Mimi. We ALL lost someone!

My grief is going away slowly each day get’s better till normally one of my kids brings her up then I may or may not break down it’s a flip of a coin some days. It’s going to be a year that my mom is no longer with us. I still have bad days where I just want to talk to her, hug her and let my kids crawl all over her. I want her to razz my husband for getting a tan to early in the season. I want her to drop off random gifts that we don’t need but love in the end because they are from her. But I also have the good days when I can talk about her and not cry. I love when our kids talk about her to other people like she is still living in this crazy world with us. I Love that she was able to spend way more time with me and my family because she never thought she would’ve lived long enough to see me married or have kids. I get her signs she sends to me sometimes daily but mostly when I need a reminder that she can continue to watch over us without being with us.  So, I tell you this to say Grief is hard no matter what way you look at it. You will have Good and Bad days & you have to process the passing of your loved one whatever way you want. Thank you for letting me share a brief moment of my life in a time that no one ever wants to become a reality.

 

Our wedding day.

In order to be Irreplaceable, one must always be different. – Coco Chanel

Mom, you were Irreplaceable and you were always one of a kind and different. I am so glad that I am your daughter because through my life you have showed my what strength and determination meant with all your battles. You showed me the never-ending love of a mother. You showed me that I can spoil my grand kids as much as you did when the time comes. You showed me to love the little things because they truly mean the most. You showed me that I can be a powerful, kind, sassy, caring, compassionate supportive, outgoing woman and for that I am forever grateful.

 

Love and Light

Mal