10 Years and a Broken Heart

It was 10 years ago today, right this very moment, that I crawled into bed with my Momma, held her hand, smoothed her hair back and whispered into her ear that it was ok to let go of us and stop the pain she was in. I remember hearing what the hospice nurses called the “death rattle”. I was the only one in the room with her in the end.
A few nights before, she had become quite antsy and restless. It was difficult for her to walk but she was adamant about going from her bed to the living room to watch TV on the couch. I lifted her up and walked her over, carefully holding her under her shoulders just incase she fell along the way. It was about 3:00 a.m. This would be the last time that she would have a conversation with me.
“I’m so sorry you have to see me go through this,” she said.
After I gathered my will and a bit of silence passed, I responded “I’m so glad it’s me you allowed to see you go through this.” I laid my head down on her frail bony shoulder as we sat on the couch together and she held me in her arms for the last time that night.
April 8, 2012, Easter Sunday, ten years ago today… If you believe in the biblical story of Jesus Christ and know about the time when he began his journey of suffering, of crucifixion and death…it matches exactly the same time frame that Momma followed that day. I truly believe in the deepest part of my heart that she chose that day and that time to join her Lord and Mother Mary for that reason. I wish with all my might I could have faith and strength like hers.
I held her hand as she took her last breath.
No other honor in my life time can ever surpass that honor. I now live my life trying to smile like her no matter how hard it gets. I now live my life reflecting all that she taught me no matter what anyone else tells me. I now live my life like hers so that my children can feel the love that I felt for her.

If you ask me if time makes it easier to deal with great loss, I will answer with a quick resounding NO.

When my father remarried, he gave me his wedding ring. My mother had already given me hers before she passed. I took them to a very talented local custom jeweler. I had trained with his wife and step mother at the time for several triathlons and had heard of my journey. He melted both rings together into a solid heart with her little “chip” diamond right smack in the center. I never take it off for reasons of symbolism and honor. Her heart, above mine, always leading me forward. Always.

But the brutal reality is that time doesn’t stand still nor is it ever at any time predictable. Since the untimely death of my baby brother, my father and I have been in a state of grief. It was too late for me to recognize and understand was that we grieve differently. However, what is identical while in the state of grief is the rash decisions we made during our depression stage. What my father and I both recognize now is the aftermath and consequences of those decisions and the impact it has made on our family… what’s left of our family to endure. Most profoundly, my youngest son. How unfair and unintentional those ramifications have been for him. Learning how to forgive myself for all he lost will likely take my lifetime. For me, mourning the loss of my father while he is still here on Earth – but so far removed from our lives – has been the most excruciating agony of my life.

Fast forward to this week, as I was making plans for Easter and the 10 year anniversary of my mother’s death, I said aloud how disappointing it is to be away from family at this time. And then it happened. My mother’s heart broke. Literally and figuratively.

I felt something drop inside my blouse, brush down my belly and clang on the floor by my feet. The heart pendant that had been hanging over my heart and split in two and fell just as I had mentioned my family sorrow. I need to also mention that this pendant is ONE solid piece. The pendant clasp was soldered into the charm so there are no moving parts that could or would NORMALLY break off… but it did. And perfectly and precisely in half no less.

The solid heart charm had been severed in half.

And fell.

Mom & dad’s heart had broken.

Spooked? If you don’t get it, you might want to read this all over again and then read between the lines.

Remember my signs?

Ya….. I got scared. I felt I disappointed my Momma so I showed up on the doorstep of my dad’s house. Picked him up and told him I was on my way to go take flowers to the cemetery and asked him if he wanted to go. He said he was working on the yard and I gave him a look. I told him, “You don’t need to get dressed up to go to the cemetery.” He chuckled and said, “Well Donny would mind.” *meaning that Donny, my baby brother who is buried next to my mom, took extra care of his looks. But then it dawned on me… he forgot. He was thinking it was Donny’s death anniversary. *his is on the 11th – today is the 8th

And then it dawned on him. He knew I wasn’t going to take NO for an answer and I made sure he got into my car to go with me to visit Momma…. and everyone else buried around her.

While with him, we had a really good talk. I asked a lot of questions I should have asked a long time ago. While sitting by her gravestone, we contemplated so many scenarios of what they would be doing if they were all still here. He stated that he went to church only because it’s what Momma would have done. I stated that I agreed to serve on all these committees only because it’s what Momma would have done. We both laughed and I said “It’s really hard to be like her.” He agreed. I’ve realized things I should have seen a long time ago. I think he’s still hurting and heavy with guilt. I think I’m still hurting and heavy with guilt. I know we still love each other. I know we both wish we had made better choices along the way. I know we both wish things were different.

I’m learning all about trauma responses and how it all manifests in our bodies. I’m also learning that I must take care of myself first before trying to take care of someone else. I believe I got my co-dependency nature from him and do NOT want my children to receive it from me. So… back to square one. How do you fix yourself in the constant battle towards growth and make sure your loved ones don’t get hit by the shrapnel? Answer: I don’t know but I cannot afford to sit back in ignorance and not try to do better. Ten years from now, I hope I re-read this and tell myself I’m glad I worked on my self and figured it out for my family.

Shannon Jewelers fixed my heart charm. No charge. It’s never coming off again.


I love you Momma.

2 Responses to “10 Years and a Broken Heart”

  1. We were all there when both our parents died. My dad died at home, my mom was in a nursing home.
    The morning my mother died my brother said, “boy, no one wants to do this” as we got in his car to head to the nursing home.
    No one wants to see their parent die, but no one wants to miss it either. My mother had the death rattle and it was horrible, but I never could forgive my self if I missed being there.
    I had tears in my eyes as I read your post.

    Like

  2. Appreciate it for this post, I am a big fan of this site would like to continue updated.

    Like

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