She Is Gone

She’s gone.

Those two words keep popping into my head, and with them this sense of heaviness that won’t go away.

Those two words are what Michael said when he called me two nights ago. Words I had been waiting to hear. Dreading them, but needing to hear them also.

It’s been such an emotional roller coaster this last year. She would go into the hospital and we would think “this is it”. Then that tenacious fighting spirit of hers would kick in and she would surprise everyone and bounce back

But each bounce brought less of her back.

That 87 year old body got more and more frail.

That witty brain became dull and foggy.

Each time I’d think about how I would miss her. What a special person she was. I’d cry. I’d grieve.

In between I told myself I was getting used to this. No more phone calls, she couldn’t hold the phone. No more visits and hugs, we are in separate states.

I thought I would get this all out of my system so that when it finally happened I’d be calm and controlled.

Michael called. I was calm. Shock I think. A sense of finality.

The calm didn’t last as long as I hoped.

She’s gone.

Words I’d expected to hear and now I was saying them. First to Steve, then Charles, Kat, David. Keely the next morning when we told her we were leaving in a few hours for Little Rock.

Each time I told someone the reality would hit and I would tear up.

I was in a fog trying to get three people packed up, perishables in the fridge packaged for a friend to pick up. Steve had to go get hay, I needed to wash my dress to wear to the funeral. Phone calls…

We drove in a blizzard for the first few hours. I was writing the obituary as we drove.

Which is when I realized I’d left my dress in the dryer. Oh well.

I’m overwhelmed by the love and prayers being sent our way by friends. Don’t ever think that a phone call, email, text or Facebook post isn’t important. It’s hard to explain the amount of comfort I get knowing that people are praying for us.

One of my friends, Marc MacYoung, asked me to tell a story about her. I already had several pages of stories written on this trip. It was like I needed to hurry and capture them so they wouldn’t go away. As if now that she is gone her story would be gone too.

But in the end, that really is what our life is. A story. Some of it we write ourselves and narrate in first person. Some chapters are through the eyes and experiences of those around us.

There will be a lot of “Marty Stories” during the next few days. I’ll be writing as many of them down as I can.

Moms story was a long and complete one. It was full of adventure, comedy, tragedy. It was rich in love and friendship.

It was a great story.

Her Voice

DSC_1067A few weeks ago, my brother Michael called me while he was visiting mom in the nursing home. He said she was pretty chipper, and asked if I wanted to talk to her.
To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to talk to her.
The last few times he has put the phone to her ear, she either didn’t hear, or more likely, didn’t understand that I was on the phone. He told her who it was, urged her to say “hello”. She would finally mumble a little bit and he would take the phone away. All the time, I would be frantically saying
“hi mom! I love you, how are you?”
I’m really just throwing words out hoping something will sink in that she will respond to.
So this time, I really didn’t want to hear the mumbling that didn’t sound like my mom. But I told him to go ahead and put the phone to her ear. She seemed to know it was me. She said “Hello, Michelle”. It was the first time I heard her say my name since I saw her in November. I asked her how she was, and she went off into nonsense sentences.
But she said my name.
After we hung up, I cried. And I realized how much I was going to miss my mom’s voice. How much I would miss her saying my name.
So I sent a text to Michael and asked him to video her saying “I love you Michelle.” I know she was only parroting the words he told her, but I hope that she knew what they meant. Michael sent me that video, and I cried some more.
Really, I figured that would be the last time I heard mom’s voice.
Patty, Michael’s wife, called me Sunday. She was following the ambulance to the hospital, Michael was riding in it with mom. Internal bleeding, low blood pressure, bad bruising and swelling were all mentioned. Michael sent me text’s filling it all in.
So she is in the hospital now. Scared when she is coherent. But most of the time resting and almost comatose.
Michael called me yesterday and asked if I wanted to talk to her. I said no. Then I changed my mind. He told her I was on the phone, and asked if she wanted to talk to me. In a really strong, just like my mom voice she said “Oh ya, I love Michelle”. Once he got the phone to her ear, she really didn’t say anything. I sobbed out “I love you mom” and that was about all I could do.
Each time I talk to her or hear her voice I assume it’s the last time. This is killing me.
The logical, rational part of me is ready for her to be at peace.
Then there is the girl that loves her mom and doesn’t want her to leave.