Lest We Forget

2 05 2014

It was 7 years ago today, that my mom decided to leave this world, to leave me with many questions and few answers.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  Going to her house to check up on her because she wasn’t answering my calls.  Knocking, and knocking, and knocking……no answer.

We had always been close, as I was her only daughter and only family member.  For most of our lives, we were all we had.  Life with mom had always been a challenge, as she was fighting a battle with mental illness, that she was having a difficult time winning.  Despite the closeness, our relationship was strained.  She needed and demanded more from me that I was able to give at times.  I was a wife, a caregiver to my mom, a full time student, and full time employee.  She hated my husband (at that time), and had a hard time dealing with the relationship that I was in (as did a lot of people, although I didn’t see it at the time).  She had seen him as the one who stole me away from her, and that caused her to “need” me even more.  I was being pulled in so many different directions towards the end of her life, at times I didn’t know what to do.  When my mom was hurting, or dealing with tough stuff in her life, I was always the one that she turned to, the one that had to bear the burden of her problems and her pain.  No child should ever have to go through that.  But, I didn’t mind, she was my mom.  We were part of each other, together we were one, and I would always be there if she needed me.  This started as early as I can remember….mom leaning on me for emotional support.  We fought a lot.  She would make me so mad sometimes!  She would say the meanest things to me…”I hate you”, “you’re a horrible person”, “you’re a bitch!”, “how are you my daughter?”, “I feel sorry for the man you marry someday, he’s going to have his hands full”.  That one stung the most, and still does to this day.  But the hurt, the pain, and the burden that she put on me does not outweigh the love and the bond, and the happiness that we shared.  We loved each other so much.  I never understood that love, and how deep it could be, and how it could exist until my daughter was born.  The love that we shared is something that just IS.  It’s a part of you, and it takes over the pain of the hurtful words.  Her words came from her own pain, they had nothing to do with me.  I loved her to the moon and back a thousand times.  I knew she needed me, so I was a willing recipient of her mental and sometimes physical abuse.  She disowned me more times than I can count, and then took me back in.  It was the textbook abusive relationship.  Cause as much hurt as you can, and then come crawling back for forgiveness.  I loved her, so I always came back.  I would never turn my back on my mom.

As I was knocking, and knocking and knocking….and the dog was barking, I started to panic.  I thought back to the previous evening when I was with my mom.  She was in the deepest, darkest place that I had ever seen her in.  She was gone…..her eyes looked black and all I could see was darkness.  She had just moved into her new apartment 4 weeks ago and hadn’t even started unpacking.  She wouldn’t even give me a key, which should have been a red flag.  I had always had free reign of every place that she had lived.  She was planning something that I didn’t even see coming.  That evening, the night before her death, she kept asking me to save her…to help her.  I was the only one.  She didn’t want to spend another day on this earth, she told me that she wanted to die and I was the only one that could save her. That’s quite the burden to put on your child.  I didn’t even know how to react.  My mom had a tendency to “cry wolf” in the past, and I didn’t know if I should take her seriously or not, and to be honest, I was exhausted and tired of her stories.  This time she was telling the truth and I didn’t see it for what it was.  I could have saved her and I didn’t.  I stayed with her for about an hour, just holding her and telling her that we were going to be okay, and that I would be back tomorrow to help her unpack.  It would be a good day because we would be together.  She kept asking me to stay just another 30 minutes, and I couldn’t.  I was exhausted, had to be at work at 5am, and just needed to go home.  I should have stayed.  Damn it, I should have stayed! But I didn’t.  I kissed her on her forehead, told her I loved her and that I would be back tomorrow, and I went home.  That was the last time I saw my mom.  I should have stayed.

After realizing that my mom was not going to answer the door, and starting to panic, my husband (at the time) and I decided that we should call the police.  I called and told them that I knew my mom was home, but she wasn’t answering the door, and that I was in fear for her life.  I remember it like it was yesterday.  The police, firetrucks, and ambulance came.  The went to my moms door, and with the help of the apartment manager, they went in.  They wouldn’t let me come with them, and I remember being so mad.  This is MY MOM’S house!  I AM my mom’s protector!  I demanded that they let me in and they would not.  I went flying up the stairs towards her apartment door only to be pulled away by the police officer and the firefighter…. “Ma’am, we can’t let you in.  We highly recommend that you don’t enter this apartment.”  Then, the news that I had been dreading, and so afraid to hear.  My mom was dead.  Laying on the floor in her living room surrounded by a plethora of empty pill bottles.  My mind flashed back to the night before.  “Baby, I don’t want to live anymore, but you’re the only one that can save me, please don’t leave…”  I left, and now she was dead.  I was numb.  I yelled, I punched, I cried, and I sat silent….for a very long time.

So 7 years later, her I am.  Still mourning her death, still feeling as much pain as I did that fateful night on May 1st, 2007.  This is the first time that I’ve chosen to write and share my feelings about that night…the night my mom lost her battle with mental illness and left me forever.  She didn’t even leave a note.  Forever without a mom.  Forever alone.  Forever empty.  Forever sad.

Now that I have a daughter of my own, I understand the love that we shared.  I vow to always love my daughter as much as my mom loved me, but to NEVER burden her like my mom burdened me.  I never want my daughter to feel the kind of pain that I did and still do.  They say that time heals all wounds, but I’m not so sure.

Mom – I love you more than my words can express.  My heart is heavy without you here.  All I can do now is carry on your memory and your legacy. I’ll tell your granddaughter about how special you are, and how much you love her even though you’re not with us anymore. I will show her your pictures and tell her stories about your love. So, today is about you mom, today (and everyday) I will honor your memory. I hope you found the peace you were looking for, as I continue to search for mine. RIP

I love you mom

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