Today is the fifth anniversary of my mom's passing. Click here to read about her struggle with young onset Parkinson's disease. This post is for her.
I can't believe it's been five years since I watched you take your last breath. I must admit that I'm quite glad I don't remember it quite as vividly today as I did the year before, or the years immediately following your passing.
This morning, I went to the cemetery. I know that I don't visit you much there at all, but it just doesn't mean much to me. Yes, I know that whatever physical remains of yours that still exist lie there, however YOU are not there. In fact, I think you and I can both look back now and realize that you were gone several years before your heart stopped. I don't think I ever came to grips that the mom I knew left when Parkinson's started to influence your behaviors, emotions, and physical abilities. Those medications were awful, and the fights that came from the compulsive buying behaviors and decisions you made in secret were a result of those medications. I'm so sorry that I didn't realize at the time the essence of you had been silenced by disease and medications. Perhaps if I had known this at age 18, I could have prepared better for when you passed 2 days before my 26th birthday. Anyway, I hope you aren't disappointed that I don't come to the cemetery often.
When I was looking at your headstone today, I was filled with guilt. I wish I could have gotten you a better headstone so I could plant flowers around it. I replayed the visits I made to your nursing home on the weekends and wonder now why I didn't come see you every day. The honest answer is that I couldn't handle it. Seeing you lie there and not being able to really communicate just made me so upset. I was selfish and chose to protect myself and my pain by not visiting you more often. I couldn't handle it. I didn't know how to make you better. I saw you struggle with your words and the frustration in your eyes with not being able to get the words out. I saw sub-standard care in the nursing home, but had no point of reference and just accepted it as the way it was. I didn't fight for you hard enough, and I'm not sure I can forgive myself for it.
All of that being said, I know you're in a better place now. Even in death, your body was tensed up due to disease, but I saw the strain in your face leave. I hope I never have to feel the conflicting emotions of relief and loss at the same time again.
Do you know what an awesome mom you were? Really. Everyone thought you were just the greatest. Your laugh and smile was infectious. I never knew how you could look at crying babies in the supermarket and giving them 1 smile that turned them into mushy, happy, cooing babies. I think they could sense that you were a good person with a good aura. I can say that when I was a child, seeing your smile made me feel the same way. Even in my teens, I couldn't repress a smile when you tried to make me laugh or when you comforted me when I was experiencing depression.
I don't have much more I can say right now – the words just aren't enough to match my emotions. I am happy and healthy and have everything I need. I love you. I miss you. Thank you for everything.
Always and forever,