I was spending time with some friends by the pool Labor Day weekend when Dad called. He wanted to let me know that Mom was having some trouble breathing so he had taken her to the hospital. He told me to give her a call later that evening as they were planning to keep her in a room there overnight.
After wrapping up with some festivities, I made a call to Mom’s cell. She sounded tired, but otherwise in good spirits. She said that the doctors had seen some spots on her lungs that they thought might be TB.
Mom exasperatedly responded, “Which it is NOT TB, but they’re still going to keep me tonight.” After a pause, she continued, “I’m probably going to have to start carrying oxygen around with me wherever I go now.”
“That’s no problem. We’ll fashion you some cool R2D2 cover for it and you’ll rock that,” I said.
“You think so, huh?”
“Definitely. Now you better get well so I don’t have to come over there and whoop your butt,” I joked.
We then said our goodbyes and exchanged our love. Little did I know, that would be the last conversation we would ever have.
She passed away on September 10, 2017.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain
I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I’d see you again.
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
It’s a year later and time has passed in waves. After her death, I broke down so many times sobbing. I’ve never experienced such heart-wrenching grief before and I honestly didn’t know how to handle it. I still have days when I don’t know what to do.
Time, for me, passed so slowly then. I wept and begged God to help me. I cried out in hurt and anger. Why would He take my mother and have my husband cheat on me on the same day? I felt like I had no one, and every time I got to that point, God sent someone to check on me through a text or phone call. Proof He was listening.
After the first 3 months without her, I stopped counting the days. I focused on other things and time seemed to fly by. I finalized my divorce, took a blacksmithing class, discovered the joys & horrors of dating apps, and threw myself into developing the programming for PRSA for the year. Before I knew it, September was here.
The weeks leading up to this particular day have been tough. I’ve cried at bars and curled myself up in a ball in the bed many evenings. Every Facebook memory reminder of her would cause me to weep at my desk. Even some of the pages of my devotionals are wavy from tears soaking into the paper.
And yet, here I am.
You’re a diamond, dear. They can’t break you.
Momma didn’t raise a girly girl. I’m sure she wanted that at times, but she was quite a tomboy herself growing up so she should have expected “Becky Junior” to be the same. She passed along more than her personality traits to me. She showed me what actual, true, selfless love was all about through her relationship with Dad, her kids, family, and even patients.
I’ll never forget the stories I’ve heard about Mom’s kindness to those in the hospital, a place full of uncertainty and fear. She comforted them with her words and provided the best care she could. Even when she was hurting or scared, she would always put others first. So many times when I was sick, she’d bring me a “sick present” to help me through. I remember her buying me a Bart Simpson plush doll for a sick present. At the time, I thought it was cool. As an adult, it showed that she paid attention to things I liked and wanted to make an extra effort. That lesson was priceless.
She also taught me that it’s okay to be silly. This morning as I was getting ready for work and looking at the suitcase I had on the bed in preparation for my upcoming trip, a memory hit me. There were many times when Mom and I would travel with my grandmother on different trips. Sometimes to the Shriners for my leg appointments or on random vacations. We would often visit the motel pool during our stays. While my grandmother never got in the water because she didn’t want to get her hair wet, Mom and I would jump in without a care in the world. We’d both get a kick out of her coming up out of the water looking like a raccoon from her mascara smearing around her eyes. I envied her perfect handstands in the water, while I held my nose and closed my eyes trying to just do a flip underwater. She’d play the “trust” game with me in which I’d lie on my back, eyes closed, and float while she’d make motorboat noises. She’d stop periodically to blow on my stomach, making me freak out and “keep my eye on her” the rest of the time. I loved how she held me in the water. Two weightless, magical beings dipping and spinning like a beautiful dance.
Lastly, she instilled in me a fire. My Mom was a fighter. She and I were at ETSU getting our Bachelor degrees at the same time. She struggled through some classes (Probability & Statistics) and fell in love with others (Intro to Music) while climbing her way towards that diploma. She’d write out all of her research papers, and I would type them all out for her. She did all this school work while working full-time and taking care of Dad and I. She’d be exhausted and still cook, clean, and stay involved in church activities. I took all that for granted and didn’t fully appreciate her sacrifice until I went back to school for my Master’s while working full-time. But now, having gone through a lot of loss, I understand that fire. The world doesn’t stop. You have to stay strong and keep going even when you’re exhausted.
You never leave my mind. Not even when I have a million things to think about.
Her passing brought about a multitude of changes. For one, Dad and I have opened up to each other more than I ever imagined. I love our weekly calls and am so thankful that God has him in my life. Also, I’m doing things that are important to me now like traveling, spending time with friends & family, rejoicing with my Faith Promise folks, networking with my fellow PR professionals, yelling at referees with my hockey pals, and believing in better days and moments ahead.
My mom loved me and God knows how much I love her. Every time I look in the mirror, I see her. Every time someone hugs me so meaningfully, I feel her. Every time someone gives a high-pitched “Hiiiii,” I hear her. Every time I walk by the Elizabeth Arden Red Door perfume counter in the mall, I smell her. She’s everywhere and that’s okay. I never want to forget her.
Love you always, Mom. Be sure to save me a spot in Heaven next to you. Your Angelface misses you, dearly.