Losing a Mother is Hard

  I have felt such an array of emotions over the course of one week.  It’s hard to believe that it has only been one week, as it feels as if thousands of years have come and gone.

Tara and I both knew that our Mother was going to die.  The doctors didn’t tell us this, we just knew.

We were in denial at first.

This can’t really be happening, right?  I’m probably just scared that she’s going to die.  She’ll pull through this bout of sickness successfully, just as she has been doing for years.  The spirit can’t possibly be telling me that she is going to die.  Especially when Dad and the doctors both seem hopeful.  That’s not possible, is it?

Yes.  I have learned that it is very possible for the spirit to tell us things that we don’t want to hear.  Things that we are not quite ready to accept.

Our Dad kept insisting that Mom was going to be fine.  He told us not to come.  Tara and I live in Lancaster, CA and our parents live in Logan, UT.  It’s a solid 12-hour drive away.

I knew that this was “it” for my Mom.  As horrible as it was to feel something like that, I couldn’t deny it.  Tara felt the same way.  We both knew that we needed to get to Utah as quickly as possible in an effort to see our sweet Mom one final time in this life.

We packed our babies (Tyler and Mason) into Tara’s car and we drove all through the night.  This proved to be somewhat difficult, as neither one of us had slept the night before (we were worrying too much to sleep).  We cried nearly the entire drive.  Why?

Because we both had a strong feeling that when we returned to Lancaster, we would not be able to call our Mom and tell her that we had arrived in safety.  We would, in fact, never be able to call her again.

Our hearts were broken.

I didn’t pack church clothes.  If I didn’t pack church clothes, then I wouldn’t need them.  Right?  I would just go see my Mom for a few days and then head back home in time to attend my own ward.  Admittedly, the word “funeral” skipped across my mind a few times as I was packing, but I refused to believe it.

As Tara and I walked into our Mother’s hospital room the morning that we arrived in Utah, our fears were confirmed.  Our sweet Mother was in terrible condition.  She was suffering so much, made evident by her facial expressions.

Tara and I immediately broke down.  We couldn’t control our tears.

We gave our Mother our permission for her to leave this life and end her suffering.  Did she need our permission?  Maybe.  Would she have passed away anyway?  Perhaps.  But when we gave her our permission, I feel as if it eased a heavy burden on her soul.  She was a fighter.  She would have suffered for days on end (in addition to what she had already suffered) if she didn’t feel like we would all be okay without her.

Will we be okay?  I suppose so.  Will I miss her?  Terribly.

A decision had to be made.

Would we rather have her here with us and continue to watch her suffer, or could we allow her to continue her work in the spirit world completely void of pain or discomfort?

This was a decision that our Dad had a difficult time making.  When he finally made the decision to let her go, her health declined very rapidly and she was gone within a few hours.

She did, in fact, need permission to go.

On our Mom’s final day, her ability to speak was taken from her.  She was intubated.  Strong medication made sure that her heart continued to pump.  A machine was causing her lungs to function.

However, she wasn’t in an induced coma.  She was able to communicate with us through writing.  Toward the end of the day, however, her alertness seemed to decline and she was visibly more exhausted.  Too exhausted to write legibly.

One of the gifts that our Mother gave us on her final day, however, was the fact that she was intubated.  As a result of her intubation, we have the majority of our communication of her final day recorded on paper.  It is a blessing that I will treasure forever.

Tara and I (and our two other siblings) spent the day praising our Mother.  We thanked her again and again for everything that she had done for us throughout our lives.  We told her how great she was.  We told her how lucky that we were to have her as a Mother.

We told her that she was the best Mother in the world.

At this compliment, she wrote something that I will never forget.

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She wrote:  “I am the best mom.  Just like you guys.”

I can promise you that Tara and I were bawling our eyes out.  Our Mom had finally admitted that she was a good Mom.  After years of feeling guilty and feeling as if her illness had prevented her from being a successful mother, she was at peace and accepted the fact that she was a good mother.

Seeing our Mom feel good about herself on her final day was a precious gift.  The fact that she added “Just like you guys” was icing on the cake, but hardly necessary.

The last moment that I saw my Mom is a very special memory of mine.  I stood next to her hospital bed, held her hand, and carressed her forehead.  No words were spoken.  Our eyes were locked.  My Mom’s eyes were wide open, trying to communicate something with me.  I yearned to know exactly what she was “saying” with her eyes, but I can only speculate.  My mom was well aware of the fact that she was dying.  She knew that this may have been the last time that I would have the opportunity to look into her eyes in this life.

What were her eyes telling me?

I love you so much.  Never forget that.  You will be okay without me.  I will be in a better place and I won’t be suffering any longer.  Please take care of Dad.  Please help Alyssa.  Don’t forget me.  Make sure your children know who I am.  I love you.

And then she beckoned me to lean down.  I placed my cheek by her mouth and she was able to lift her head up ever so slightly in an effort to kiss me goodbye.  I didn’t feel her lips, as she was intubated, but that final kiss from my mother is something that I will never forget.

She then motioned me to exit the room with her hand.  I looked back one final time before leaving the room, and that was the last time that I saw my Mother’s beautiful eyes.  The next time that I saw her, her eyes had been closed forever.

My three siblings and I left the hospital after saying our goodbyes and headed to a hotel about 15 minutes away.  Part of me believed that I would just go to sleep (I was exhausted) and go back to the hospital in the morning to spend another day with my Mom.  The other part of me feared that she may not make it through the night.

I didn’t realize that the phone call from my Dad would come so quickly.

Dad called me and told us to return to the hospital because Mom had just died.  He was crying.

Even with all of the medication and machines, her heart simply wasn’t strong enough.  It failed.

I screamed “NO!” at the phone and threw it against the wall.

I told my siblings the news before immediately calling Jon.  When Jon answered the phone I lost control.  I yelled at him and told him that Mom had just died and that he didn’t get to say goodbye to her.  I hung up the phone and continued to scream and yell at the top of my lungs.  I don’t even remember what I was saying.  It just felt good to scream.  It was purely reflex.  It wasn’t until I looked in the corner of the room and saw my 2-year-old neice crying in fear that I realized that I had scared her.  I stopped screaming and started crying.  I called Jon back and told him to come right now.  I needed him.

The first time that I walked into my parents house after my Mom’s death was very difficult.  I found myself waiting for my Mom to walk down the stairs or to clean up the messy counter.  It never happened.  And it never will again.  I immediately went into my Mom’s bedroom and grabbed a pair of her soft pajamas, laid down on her bed in fetal position, and cried and cried as I clung to her pajamas.  Somehow, holding her pajamas helped.

I found myself praying and praying for a miraculous vision.  I wanted to see my Mom again.  I wanted to see her one final time and say a proper goodbye.

It never happened.

As I write this post, the funeral is finished and her body is buried in the earth.  I have visited her grave twice already.  I am trying to get as many visits as possible in.  She won’t be in California.

I feel incredibly empty.

I had just talked to my Mom on the phone for an hour and a half the Friday before she passed.  I told her how much I was looking forward to Christmas this year.  I wanted to spend Christmas with my Mom more than anything.  I missed her terribly last Christmas and felt incredibly homesick.

I had no idea that I would never be able to spend another Christmas with her again.

In that last phone conversation, I told my Mom that we were trying to get pregnant but that it would probably take a while, as usual.

I had no idea that when I actually do get pregnant, I won’t be able to call her and tell her the exciting news.

I am only thirty year old.  I feel much too young to be without a mother.  And my siblings are younger than I am.

Over the past few days, Tara and I have been helping my Dad clean out our Mom’s closet.  He couldn’t bear to do it himself, so we were given the assignment.  My Mom had the same taste in clothes as I do.  She preferred casual over fancy.  Although my Mom was shorter and smaller than I am, I actually found quite a few clothes that fit me.  In fact, I could probably discard all of my old clothes and completely replenish my wardrobe with my Mother’s clothing.

Since I feel horrible about sending her clothes to Goodwill, I’m talking most of them home with me.  I hope that Jon can forgive me. 🙂

I can’t help but feel bad.  I feel as if I’m benifiting from my Mother’s death by taking her clothes.  I don’t want to benefit from her death at all.  I would rather torture myself.

Anyway, I have rambled on long enough.  I am positive that more posts will be coming regarding my grieving process.

Now, stop reading and go and give your mother a big hug.  If you live far away from her, call her and tell her how much you love her.

Although I know that my Mom is at peace now, I would still do almost anything in the world to be able to give her a hug right now.

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7 thoughts on “Losing a Mother is Hard

  1. Oh Andrea, I’m so so very sorry for your loss. Your post made me cry. I hope you’re comforted in your grieving, Tara as well. Hugs. 🙂

  2. When Grandma Turley passed away, I knew she was dying. When the call came I was teaching a class of 3rd graders. I cried loud & hard & then looked up & they were so worried too. When they knew why I was crying they came & hugged me & wrote me notes. I also have a house dress that belongs to her & I wear it. It helps me feel closer to her. I know your Mom would want you to use her clothes not just give them away if you could use them. Your Mom is proud of you & the good Mother you have become. That in itself is a tribute to her. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love all of you. Aunt Bubba

  3. You are a strong woman, ita amazing how the spirit prepares us for hard things. I cannot imagine what you and your siblings are going through. Ive thought of you guys everyday, I think ive cried for you everyday too. We are praying for you all and though we dont talk all the time we love you lots. The plan of salvation is so amazing. And now you will have your mom to help in ways you never imagined, she will help you through your days and nights. Just like the scripture 2 nephi 32:3 you will continue to feel her close. We love you guys so much and will continue to keep you in our prayers.

  4. I am so sorry about the loss of your mom. Your post has brought me to tears. I’m glad that you got to see her and say goodbye to her. I pray that the spirit will help you and your family find comfort and healing. Sending hugs your way.

    Jen Morrey

  5. Andrea, I have been thinking of you and Tara all week…. I was telling Derek, Imagine if that were us… We are all far too young to have to say goodbye to our mothers right now, even if it is just for this life! Andrea, my heart aches for you daily and I cried through this post. I am so sorry you have been called to go through this right now. I know with all my heart your mom is so close to you right now. I realized after my niece died that grief is such a difficult and strange thing. It is such a personal thing that we share with our Heavenly Father and Savior, and I realized it was alright to say it isn’t fair, because it’s not, and it is okay to be angry. Don’t be hard on yourself. I have never had to feel the pain you are feeling now, but I know you have such a special relationship with the Lord, I know He will hold you as you ache. I love you so much my friend! You have so many who are here for you. Please don’t hesitate to ask for anything. If there is a time you just need to be alone, please let me watch your babies. Just know you are loved, by us, by your loved ones, by your family and husband, your beautiful mother, and our Heavenly Father! I know I never say the right things, but please know I love you! And thank you for sharing those last tender and sacred moments…

  6. Thank you for this wonderfully written post. Kudos to you for still being able to have coherent thoughts! I really appreciate how truthful you were about your reactions to everything. I think it’s important to remember that even though we may have unwavering faith in the Gospel, and a solid understanding of the Plan of Salvation, that death is still a traumatic and painful experience. The separation is just as exquisite for those of us who totally intend to be reunited again as those that believe that death is the end. I’m still praying for the awesome comfort that can only come from above for you. You are your family are amazing, and you will find yourself strengthened at the end of this. You are a woman any mother would be intensely proud of. Love you!

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