On this day in 2006, I sat in a hospital room in Baton Rouge and watched my mother die. She had been in a coma for almost two days and I had been with her the entire time. I had grown accustomed to her deep, loud breathing - somewhat like a snore, somewhat like a gurgle. I could be across the room or in the hall, but if I could hear that breathing, I knew she was still alive. Or, as alive as one is in a coma.
Neal's parents had come to be with us - my mother and me - and even though we were engaged in conversation at the time, I knew the moment she left. There was suddenly a deafening silence and the breathing stopped. I remember walking over to her bed, in disbelief, and announcing to my inlaws that she was gone. Many times over the years I had mentioned to people how hard it would be to lose my mother and how much I dreaded the day we would part. The one thing I had not given much thought to, until I was faced with the reality, is how orphaned I would feel.
A few days ago, I was corresponding via email with a family member and I mentioned the upcoming anniversary of my mother's death. I stated how much I miss her and questioned if it ever gets any easier. My family member replied , "It does, but it's awfully hard to describe. The way I have come to think of these things is that you don't "get over it" as much as "learn to live with it". I think the immediacy of it fades at last, and then you've a calmer sense of what you HAD, slowly overtaking the pain of what you've LOST."
The night before my mother went into a coma, we were chatting and she was talking about the important things in life, while I mostly listened and agreed. While I can't recall the exact content of the discussion, the one thing I do remember is her statement to me, "It's all about love, you know?" Later that evening, we said our goodnights and I love yous and some time in the night she fell into a coma. The last words I heard her utter were about love, and those words were a perfect example of who she was.
So, on days like today, when I'm feeling sad and orphaned and missing her terribly, I have to remind myself of what I had instead of what I lost. How lucky I am to have shared my life with such an incredible woman. She was a woman who was always giving and asking little in return. She was a peacemaker. She was an entertainer. She was deeply devoted to her God and her family. She was kind and she was wise. She was full of life and love. She was pure goodness. She was my mother.
It's all about love, you know?