This has been a favorite photo of mine for some time now. I just now noticed the timestamp. I took it the day before my mother died. The last day I saw my mother. The day I didn’t realize I was saying goodbye.
So much waiting.
Waiting for Zack to come home from the Middle East. Waiting for family to come for Thanksgiving. Waiting to decorate my Christmas tree until Christmas afternoon, when I would finally be home for a couple of days. Waiting. Wondering how much time was left.
Just yesterday I was thinking about my mom and how I stressed over the last few weeks over her life waiting and worrying, not knowing how long she would be with us and not knowing if I should leave to go on my first work trip (she said “Go!”) or make alternate plans (even though there really wasn’t anyone else who could have taken my place) because I did not want to leave when her time was short or not be with her to say goodbye.
Saying goodbye was a big deal to me. Especially since I missed saying goodbye to my father by one day. And so we waited. I waited to make plans–or not make plans–or cancel my plans. I waited to say goodbye. Even though I couldn’t possibly know when. And I thought we would have some warning. The hospice nurse said she would know. And we intended to keep a bedside vigil.
Juxtapose that seemingly endless waiting with a couple of tender sweet hours spent with my aunts and uncles and cousins gathered in a similar vigil–or at least similar to what I imagined–at the hospital, as one of my aunts–my dad’s sister–was also dying at the same time as my mother.
A rather loud, busy, but anything-but-lonely vigil by my aunt’s side–full of hugs and stories and laughter along with the tearful eyes.
As opposed to the quiet, lonely, vigil by my mom’s side at her home, as I tag-teamed–primarily with my brother and his wife–to grant my mother her wish to stay in her home.
Yesterday I was reminded about despite all our efforts “to plan,” how my mom went quietly, but not unexpectedly (because who really knows what to expect) but still on her own terms–when no one was looking–just a couple of days after my aunt died.
This meant both my brother and I could attend our aunt’s funeral. In fact I ended up flying out to D.C. next to one of my cousins and her husband afterwards.
And then I flew back at the end of the week just in time for my mother’s “viewing” (as she forbade us from having a funeral).
Anyway, the waiting–impatient waiting–and the not knowing–impatient not knowing–what was going to happen or when or what I should do was all for naught. And I regret not having relaxed a bit more (although not for a lack of trying) and trusted that everything would work out.
What occurred to me yesterday was how my mom meant it when she said she wanted me to go to D.C. and do this thing for work–this scary thing I had never done before and had worked hard to prepare for–and she very possibly went when she did in order that I could go. It wasn’t about the travel, although she wanted that for me too. It was about the opportunity to stretch myself (in many ways) and do something I’d never done before. Something I didn’t know if I could do. I know my mom wanted that for me. And she gave it to me. And I am the better for it.
[Day 90 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir.]
Note: There is another post to be written about waiting. It is a raw post. A hard post. And apparently it still waits to be written.