A year ago my mom died suddenly. And the truth is, I have buried that grief deep. I don’t really have the words.
Covid hit our country in March 2020. The last time I saw my mom was face to face on March 15th. After that, we all retreated into our Covid bubbles of quarantine and stay at home orders. We talked often and even met up on the porch through the garage window not fully understanding the virus yet.
My mom’s workplace was deemed essential and she strolled up to my porch with McDonald’s soft drink. Covid scared me. Just 2 years before I had lost Jake. I couldn’t bear the thought of losing someone else close to me. We chatted for awhile and then I began to throw stats, scientific facts, and precautions she should be taking. I remember telling her that I may be coming across harsh but it was because I loved her so much and I couldn’t bear to lose her. I am so grateful I said those words to her. I didn’t let the boys see her that day. It was nap/quiet time and frankly I was struggling with their behaviors now that they were home 24/7. I regret that decision heavily.
About a week later, Mom called and wanted to swing by. We were getting ready to take the boys for a walk to burn energy. We had all 3 boys that day. I, again, was exhausted and struggling to balance this truly full time mom thing that school closures graced us with. So I told her another time. Another decision I carry with heavy regret. She sounded as if she needed me. Someone to talk to, and I couldn’t be that for her that day. This was a Tuesday or a Wednesday.
The week went on and was consumed with guiding my kindergartener and preschooler through remote learning, escalating behaviors, and my struggle to balance me time so I could recenter. I called her Friday, realizing I hadn’t heard from her lately. No answer, straight to voicemail but this honestly wasn’t strange. Mom often let her phone go dead, misplaced it, or accidently silenced the ringer. I called again that night. Her phone rang but no answer. I called again Saturday. It rang so it was obviously charged, but no answer. I left a message telling her I needed her to call me and tell me she was okay. Sunday I called 2-3 times and her phone was dead.
Instantly, I was infuriated. Because anger is my default emotion to mask fear or sadness. I pictured her sitting in her room watching the television loudly, not hearing her phone, in the midst of a global pandemic, leaving me to worry. And I was angry because I refused to let the fear in. The fear that something was wrong. So I became angry. It doesn’t make sense that that is an easier emotion for me but it is. Because anger takes the pressure away from me. If I am angry at someone, I am not scared. And I hated fear.
I looked to Joe and told him I was going to drive straight to her house to ease my mind. Joe was concerned. He was concerned about me going their alone, and we didn’t want to go together and take the kids in case something was wrong. So I called non emergency dispatch and requested a welfare check. Within 15 minutes I received a call that there was no answer and her car was there. They told me they could force entry or I could come bring a key.
I jumped in my truck and drove to my childhood home. I pulled onto the street. There were 3 police cars parked out front and a group of neighbors gathering. I panicked. I said one threatening thing to God as I drove down that dead end road. I simply said, “God,” through clenched teeth. You see God and I hadn’t been exactly on speaking terms since the days I prayed in the hospital for Jake. I said it in a way almost saying, “Do not fail me again.”
I gave the keys to the officers and allowed them to go in while I waited outside. One officer a few minutes later exited the front door. Don’t forget I was a police wife for 8 years. I can read their body language like a book. I knew, I just knew the minute his eyes met mine, she was gone. He didn’t have to say one damn word. And I crumbled. I went numb. I felt as if I left my body.
And then my shame swallowed me whole.
I should’ve let her see the boys that day.
I should’ve let her come over that day.
I should’ve pulled my head out of my ass and my own chaos for a second to check on her before then.
I should’ve been a better daughter…
She was 70. Only 70. Active. My grandparents lived to 94. My great grandma to 101. Where the hell were those genetics? 70 was too soon. I needed her. My kids needed her.
Then my PTSD kicked in.
The I’m sorry’s
The need for me to make decisions
I was in a fishbowl again. Everyone watching, waiting, wondering, all helpless to really do anything for me.
Later I learned my mom had had a heart attack earlier in the week. Probably around Tuesday or Wednesday. The medical examiner suspects her heart was weakened and may never have returned to a normal rhythm. On Sunday, she suffered a myocardial infarction with rupture and hemopericardium.
Today, she left this Earth a year ago. And I have barely begun to scratch the surface of that grief.
Every freaking day I miss her,
want to call her,
meet her for breakfast,
watch her hug my boys,
feel her arms around me.
I love you, Mom.