Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, and I’m trying to wrap my mind around the heaviness of not having my mother here to celebrate.
These days, when I think of my mother, the first thing I remember is her last breath. She was lying on the bed we set up in the dining room, facing me. I would often sit and watch her chest rise and fall. This simple act became increasingly labored with every passing day. Though a short time, it felt like an eternity during which I lived in fear that the footsteps I heard coming down various hallways in the house were destined to bring me the news I knew would eventually come. She slipped into a coma on Tuesday, slept the entire following day– my birthday – and exhaled, the last time, right as the old living room clock struck noon on Thursday, January 19.
By now, most of you probably know that her fatal battle was fought against pancreatic cancer. It’s the most merciless opponent that sneaks up on its victims, leaving them little to no time to even understand how near the end really is.
I miss her terribly.
The doctors told us my mother had cancer on December 23. As expected, we sat in disbelief. We cried while trying to remain hopeful and rally around my mother and her impending battle. Then, when all had fallen out of earshot except me, she posed the most unexpected question. “Are you pregnant?” my mother asked. Stunned at the timing, I assured her I was not.
A week later, while in the hospital, she asked me again. I remember being perplexed as to why she was asking for the second time if I was pregnant. Yes, I was crying, but grief was the great provider of tears not pregnancy hormones. Again, I assured her I was not.
The third time she asked me was just a few days before her death. She was home and under hospice care. I was sitting by her side, holding her hand, when she asked me if I was pregnant. I, again, assured her I was not. She followed her question with, “It’s okay, honey. When you’re ready, it’ll be okay. It’ll all be just fine.”
When Chad and I discovered that we were pregnant with a third child, there was excitement but also some worry. Sure we were, and are, completely overjoyed knowing we are again being entrusted with one of life’s greatest blessings, but, let’s be real; three small children with two working parents (and a dog) squeezing into a two bedroom house is a lot to take in, emotionally, logistically, financially. As expected, there is a large part of my heart that is saddened that my mother won’t see, hold, and get to know this child. She won’t be able to make this baby a quilt or sew together more dresses or Halloween costumes.
It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I remembered my mother’s questions. Her seemingly ridiculous speculation didn’t see so silly anymore. Maybe, just maybe, my mother was telling me, before any of us even knew, that it will all work out in the end. While she’s no longer here on this earth, she still managed to bring me comfort in her death.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom.