I received a call last February that NO ONE wants. My Dad called to see how i was doing, chatting merrily about nothing. Hmmmm, I thought. The last time he did that, he told me my Mom had cancer. To this point she was receiving treatments again, after an eighteen month remission, but he kept me updated on her numbers and made everything sound so positive. Now, I was not so sure.
“What’s really going on, Dad?” I asked, warily.
“Well, hon, your Mom’s numbers have stopped getting better and are going the other way.” He spoke of her cancer numbers. “She’s decided to stop treatment, because it isn’t getting better and she’s sick for no good reason.”
I’ve had a “heart episode” before, and receiving this news definitely felt similar. “W-w-what? Is Mom dying?”
My Dad was quiet for a moment. “The doctors say she has three to six months left.”
Not 100 percent, but I think my heart stopped at that moment. I really don’t know what was said after that. I numbly hung up the phone and sat next to my boyfriend, with my head on his shoulder, sobbing uncontrolably.
My parents live 450 miles away from me, which is the number of miles from my doorstep in Indiana to theirs. We got to see her in April, at Easter so she could see my new grand baby, her first and only great-grandson. She held him with help, because she looked like a holocaust survivor, she had lost so much weight. She was so happy she had everyone with her. She was too weak to go to church, so my last night there, I sat and watched a Catholic Church service with her and talked about her planning to die. It was so surreal. We also had a major conversation on how she was working with her priest on forgiving people and letting go of earthly worries. My Mom was the kindest, most forgiving person you could meet. I was puzzled.
“Mom?” I asked. “Who on Earth do you have to forgive?”
She sighed. “You know.”
I really was curious now. “No. Who?”
“Your Ex,” she said flatly. “I just don’t think I can forgive him for what he did to you and the kids.”
I had to look up to the sky, mainly for strength, but mostly so I didn’t cry. “Mom, he’s not worth the hate. I had to forgive him, because that apology will never come. He doesn’t feel he did anything wrong, only that he was wronged. I had to forgive him for me, for my peace of mind. I’ve forgiven him, but I’ll never be able to fully forget what he did. Do not let that horrible example of a human keep you, here, Mama. He’s simply not worth it. Don’t give him that power over you.” My Dad agreed wholeheartedly, as he stood there nodding. My Mom simply shrugged. We talked for another hour about forgiveness, in general.
When I went to leave the next day and hugged her, I did my best not to cry, but was not very successful at it…I felt as though I was hugging a skeleton. I knew I’d never see her alive again, so I didn’t want to let her go. After I returned to my home, I talked to her on the phone a lot, until she got incoherent. I wished I had recorded her telling me she loved me…I said it so often to her, just to hear her say it as long as I possibly could.
I wasn’t able to help my Dad and Sister, with my Mom in her final days. I feel so much guilt for that. I had been sick on and off right before she passed. I kept putting off my nagging illness. She passed in June, but my Dad made the funeral for the beginning of July. My Mom wanted to be cremated because cancer had made her nearly unrecognizable. I understood and respected her decisions in my brain…my heart, however, couldn’t reconcile it.
Right before my Mom’s funeral, my boyfriend made me go to the doctor, because I was getting worse. I reluctantly went to the doctor and found out that I had COVID. I was completely devistated. I now couldn’t go to my Mom’s funeral…I really needed the closure, but I also couldn’t infect my elderly relatives either. It was bittersweet: I was trying to be selfless but never felt more selfish and disappointed in my whole life.
My sister-in-law did a FaceBook Live at the funeral, so I could still attend “virtually.” I got to talk to my relatives before the ceremony started, which helped. My heart was breaking into pieces. It still feels rough and shoddy from the pain. I don’t think it will every be completely and fully healed.
That was the hardest and most painful “goodbye” on record, in my life…one that I may never truly get over. I once thought that if my former husband and I every split, I’d be devistated. When it actually happened, I was so relieved. Losing your Mother is one that you never truly stop grieving.