[cross post from another blog, though still my writing]
I thought you might like to read this, if you haven't already....
I know that when my mother died, I received a gift. I got to be there during her last days, sitting with her in that lonely hospital room with my siblings, taking turns feeding her until she passed. That was a gift. I got to talk to her and say my goodbyes. I got to hold her hand. I got to bathe her forehead and feed her ice chips.
With my daughter, I got to do none of that.
Instead, she died alone in the home of someone I didn't know. The woman never came forward and offered to talk to us or anything. She wanted to fade into the background, I think, but I would have loved to talk to her. It was someone she knew from AA, so I guess anonymity might have been a factor, but still. Wouldn't you have reached out to the family of someone who died in your home? I would have. It would have been a gift to me to talk with them.
When my girl died, she was alone. I didn't get that chance to be at her side, holding her hand. Her body lay there for at least 12 hours with no one home and no one knowing what had happened. That thought haunts me on days like today. No one should have to die that way, though plenty of people do. That my daughter died that way will always torment me. I talked to her on Monday. Her brother talked to her on Wednesday. She wasn't feeling well when he spoke to her. She canceled plans to go out and shoot pool with him, their Wednesday night thing. She was afraid he was mad at her, but he wasn't. He was disappointed, because he'd been looking forward to it all week. None of us ever got to speak to her again.
On Thursday afternoon, a wave of fatigue hit me like nothing I've ever felt. I set my Away status on my work computer and fell into bed for a nap. I couldn't keep my eyes open. While sleeping, I dreamed of her. She was lying in a hospital bed - as she had so many times before - and she had all kinds of tubes and wires running to and from her body. She was wearing a pale blue hospital gown with dark blue diamonds on it. She had a peaceful look on her face and was just gazing at me. I was shouting, "What's wrong? What has happened to you now?"
You see she was always sick, and sometimes we think she made herself sick. Some of her doctors thought so, too, but no one could ever say for sure. It was hell on us all.
When I woke up, I was shaken. I thought, "Okay, she's sick. She's in the hospital again. I'll hear from her soon."
The next day at noon, the doorbell rang and it was the police, telling us she had been found dead around 4:30 that morning. They said she had been dead "at least" 12 hours. I probably could have pinpointed it more accurately for them - around 1:30 p.m. on Thursday. She was a Thursday's child. She came into this world on a Thursday and left it on a Thursday. Thursday's child has far to go.... but my daughter didn't get far. She got as far as age 25. I'll never get to see her marry or have children or get gray or start a career or any of those things. All those milestones are left idle. All those little gifts a mother looks forward to? I won't get those.
I have no idea what she was wearing when she died. Probably pajamas, as she was in bed. But when we had to go to the funeral home to view and identify her body after the autopsy, she was respectfully laid out in a simple casket. When I stepped into the chapel and saw that it was really her, that porcelain face and dark hair, looking for all the world like Snow White, a moan escaped me like nothing I've ever heard come from my mouth. I had hoped against hope that there had been a terrible mistake. I walked down the aisle toward her.
Inside the casket she lay inside a cardboard box that would be used for putting her remains into the cremation chamber. They had covered it in white gossamer fabric. When I drew near to the casket, I saw that she was in a pale blue hospital gown, covered in dark blue diamonds. A white gossamer blouse was on her underneath it, covering her neck and arms. She had sent me a message that Thursday afternoon. Her last gift to me.
But I also got the gift of knowing she was going to AA and was working hard at service. There were many things I didn't get. But what I did get was the gift of having her go to church with me one time and meet my friends there. What I did get was the gift of having her AA buddies tell me that in her last meeting, she said that she was alive because God was with her. Those were all incredible gifts. But you know? I would rather have her back with me, all things considered. That would be the greatest gift. What parent who has lost a child hasn't thought that?
Today has been hard. I needed to write about it. I was making myself a bowl of chili for dinner and started crying. I'll never get to make sure my daughter eats again. I'll never do her laundry or take her car for an oil change or visit her in the hospital or any of those things I did a hundred times over. Instead, I'll miss her the rest of my life. I'll miss her face, her laugh, her beautiful hair, her smell, her wry sense of humor... I'll never get another call from her or another visit from her. I'll never laugh with her or cry with her again. I'll just cry over her, over the fact she's gone.
I don't write nearly enough anymore, because it always turns into this - sorrow. Maybe that's the point, really.
The grief support group meets again on Thursday. I'm looking forward to seeing them, and I need to take a photo of my daughter with me for the remembrance board. I'll have to find one I can part with.
In the meantime, I'll keep plugging along. Denise has been ailing with an injured hip that the doctors can't figure out. She hasn't been able to ride her horses, which is making her (and the horses) miserable. Keep her in your prayers that she will be mended soon and that the doctors can see to it that she is. Keep us both in your prayers for the days in which we deal with more than we think we can handle.
I'll write when I can. Peace - D