My wife warned me yesterday that Caemon’s family had written about his death. I decided to read it, knowing in the back of my head that the manner in which his death progressed was similar enough to my mother’s that it would be hard to read. To digest. And in the end, in addition to feeling overwhelmingly heartbroken for the family, I felt a sense of community with them. Watching someone close to you die in front of your eyes is not anything anyone should do more than once. At the same time, it indoctrinates you into some kind of unfortunate club where everyone has this unspoken thing in common.
A couple of days before my mom died, I remember sitting by her bedside in the ICU. Doctors coming in and out, technicians testing this and that, and nurses checking on her vital stats. I sang her songs and held her hand. I remember her moving her left arm and hand around, up and down, back and forth. The way you would do if you were in the deep end of a swimming pool, and were just out of reach of the wall beside you. In hindsight, I was watching her brain, body, and soul struggle and try to make sense out of what was going on.
The event in her brain (either a bleed or another stroke) that led to her death happened overnight, and the next day when I saw her, she was gone. She was physically there, but her soul had moved on.
This morning, I decided that it was time. Time to go through my phone and download the 40 (!) voicemails from her sitting, haunting me on my phone. Despite help from great friends, I dug around the office here and found the blessed cable that would do the job. It took me a moment, but then I finally got the audio to come out of the speakers and low and behold, there was my mom wishing me a Happy Valentine’s Day, which was the last voicemail I ever received from her.
I downloaded two voicemails from March 15, 2011, which was exactly one year before she died. She was telling me all about how she was moving out of the assisted living facility on St. Patrick’s Day and she was so excited. She starts most messages with “Hey Babe, it’s your mom,” or “Hi darlin’.” She ends most of them telling me how much she loves me, and to kiss RR for her.
I’m incredibly fortunate to have her voice here with me, and the sense of closure I have from listening to them, taking them all in, leaves me without words to describe it. I’ve been struggling coping with her death since the first of the year. Like some part of my heart is still so very numb. But today, hearing her voice, woke it up a little. Made me feel warm and loved inside in a way I haven’t felt in nearly a year.
I thought I’d share one with you; this one is from New Year’s Day, 2012. It’s pretty typical – she says Hi, apologizes for missing when I’d called, told me about her day (usually involving food or a trip out for dinner), Love You, and Bye. This one, though, ends a little bittersweet, as she would have no idea what kind of year 2012 turned out to be.