Saturday, October 31, 2009

Little Gifts

[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


Sandi McBride said...

You know, she wasn't alone at all, not spiritually...your love held her in its arms as she slipped away...never doubt it...and God welcomed his daughter home as warmly as any earthly father ever could. I can't say that the loss of your child will ever "get better" will get distanced with the passage of time...but you will recover your equilibrium and do what we all must...get on with the act of living...I send you warm hugs and sympathy.

An Irish Friend of Bill said...

i love your mothers love for your daughter.
i know things are different and you don't see her everyday. but she is 'there'. she never really went away. none of us can. love binds us to others wherever we are.
talk to her. have a little chat and tell her how you feel.

Annette said...

It just plain hurts like hell huh. I'm so sorry. ((HUG))

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

yes l've read this before...and I hope the group is working out for you....

it's been a while since you walked here... (I've been elsewhere recently too)...many of your old blog pals have retired....You may know that already....or l can let you know the who and why....

take care of yourself....and you are both never far from my thoughts.

Saz x (FFF)

Maggie May said...

Yes..... this will always be with me I will not forget it. How could anyone?

Nuts in May

the walking man said...

Just look for the best possible outcome Doris. It may not seem like there is such an option but there is good that grows from tragedy, the good is there you haven't recognized it yet or it isn't time for it to show it's face but there will be a best possible outcome.

Come by TWM when you can or hit the e-mail.

Be Well both of you.


Cyrille said...

I have just placed orders for my antidepressants at when I stumbled upon your post. Depressed though I am, I couldn't keep myself from reading your post. And it made me cry. My heart goes out to you. Even if I had not suffered a similar fate as yours, loved ones who leave us is never an easy matter to take. But what I find admirable is how you had seen the gift of seeing her in your dream on the night she had passed away despite your sadness. Time heals all wounds. You would never ever forget her, yet in due time you would eventually move on and learn to be at peace with the truth that she has already found her eternal peace in the arms of our Creator.