Thursday, May 2, 2013

A letter to my mom...

I belong to a caregiving group at  The owner and founder of the group Denise Brown is a friend and life coach who helps me work out many of my issues.  My homework this week from our coaching call last week was to write a letter to my mom. So here it is. I think I said everything I needed/wanted to say.

Dear Mom:

I can’t believe that the 15-year anniversary of your death just past. It seems so long but at the same time not. I want to thank-you for watching over Nicole. I truly believe that God along with you and maybe angels have because there is no other reason why she is so sick and still with us. I would like to believe that you can see us and you have watched Nicole grow up. My deepest regret is you never met her or had a relationship with her.

I think I’m going to work my way backward. I hope that you’re not mad at me because I had a memorial service even though you didn’t want one. I hope that you remember what I said at this because I don’t because of grief and nerves. I hope that you’re not mad at me that I didn’t wait for the doctors to run all the tests to confirm for sure that you were brain dead. It would have taken too long and we only had so much time before Rick had to go back to work. Nicole ended up getting sick too. I believed that if you weren’t brain dead you would have breathed on your own without the help of life support.

I hope that you are not mad and will forgive me that I didn’t have the courage (it also grossed me out) to hold your hand when they took you off of life support which I think is odd because I have your ashes on my fireplace and I don’t find that creepy. I knew when I arrived the night before that you were gone because of a couple of things. The first was when we were driving through Pennsylvania and I was sleeping and had a dream that you were sitting in the back seat with Nicole sitting all prim and proper and staring blankly ahead. The second thing was when we finally got to the hospital. I was sitting next to your bed and there was a window behind me. I got the weirdest sensation/feeling that you were behind me looking through the window. I knew you were gone.

I remember on April 8, 1998, Jim (my brother) calling me and telling me that you had Stage IV lung cancer. He also told me you were going to refuse treatment and that they were giving you three to six months. I thought I was going to pass out. It was the oddest thing because that morning I was having “quite time” and I heard, as plain as day, in my head your voice telling me you would always love me. I learned later that it was at this same time that you were in respiratory distress and was waiting to be transferred via ambulance to the ER.

I also learned that you had had emphysema for at least a couple of years and you didn’t tell Jim or I and most of all you didn’t quit smoking… I don’t understand!!!! Your reasoning was you didn’t want to worry me… but that (to me) isn’t good enough. There’s so much correlation with Nicole and her health and she doesn’t want to tell me stuff so I won’t worry. I feel I deserved to know. I don’t understand how you could give up like you did.

I wish SO much that I had been there when you were given this kick in the gut news. I know exactly what that feels like. I don’t even know for sure if Jim was there or not. I believe it was April 12th or 13th but I’m not sure,  all I know it was the day after Easter that year that I spoke with you and the doctors were going to do a procedure (maybe it was a biopsy) where they were going to take a piece of the tumor in your brain behind your eyes (it was affecting her vision) to test it to see if it was lung cancer that had spread or was it brain cancer. I remember I believe during this call that you told me you wanted to be cremated and you didn’t want any fuss of a funeral. I remember your hesitation and nervousness of the procedure and tried to reassure you but at that time I believed that the doctors knew best and this had to be done, boy how things change.

Needless to say, I slept with the phone next to my ear and not very well at that. When I woke up I still hadn’t heard from the hospital. I had asked my mom if she wanted me to come up for the procedure and she said no. After numerous calls trying to find out information. I finally talked to a doctor and found out that there had been complications and you had hemorrhaged. They had her in a drug induced coma because of the swelling in the brain. We left on Thursday I believe for New York. I remember calling to talk to the doctor when we stopped for the night either in North Carolina or Virginia and finding out that they thought you had had a heart attack (this was mainly due to a test or something being high) but in actuality you had had a stroke that left you brain dead.

I don’t remember if it was my last conversation or the conversation I had with you after your diagnosis but you said something that I didn’t understand nor will ever forget. You said, “You don’t need me anymore.” I can’t tell you how hurt and angry I was at this statement as I would always need you. I felt guilty (and still do) because I didn’t call enough or wasn’t a good enough daughter for you to say this. Like everything else in life it seems everything comes full circle. I can understand in some ways why you said it because I fear this with Nicole even now… I know she relies on me for her health issues but that’s all. I struggle not to feel like she doesn’t need me anymore.

You died without a will which meant Jim and I had to take care of this. We would be still waiting if I hadn’t taken it over for Jim. I hired an attorney and started the process. We were beneficiaries in her life insurance policy. I took a portion of that money and took a correspondence course on medical transcribing as I thought this would be work I could do from home and also to understand your medical records. I also found out that you were addicted to anti-anxiety medication (I don’t remember without looking what they were but I recognized the name so it was popular). All you needed to do was call the doctor and he would call in a prescription without even seeing you. I couldn’t believe this. I was livid. This process was more than a nuisance than anything because you didn’t have anything of monetary value.

One last question that bothers me is … why didn’t you ever discipline me? You just allowed me to do whatever I wanted and while it isn’t your fault I think I got into a lot of trouble that I wouldn’t have if you had. It made me feel like you didn’t love me enough to give me a curfew, or to ground me… I may not have paid any attention to it but you could have locked me in my room with the window barred shut. :) I have struggled with this with Nicole. I feel like if I discipline her she will feel like I don’t love her which is just crazy because I know I felt that way because you didn’t discipline me.
I lied… I have one more question… Why did you allow Jim to treat you like he did? I know the guilt you had because you couldn’t support both of us and so I am sure Jim played on that guilt and I am sure he brought it up many times how you owed him because of this. I wish I had known he was doing this… it just isn’t right and he should be so ashamed of himself (even though I know he’s not).

I will always be grateful for the last words that you said to me which were “I love you.” Every time I go somewhere, go to sleep, talk on the phone etc. with Nicole this is always the last thing I say. If something were to happen to me this is the last thing that I want to leave her with.

I wrote this letter over a period of a few days. While I was typing it up this morning I thought about my obsession with hoarding food. If you came to my house on any given day and looked in my pantry it is overflowing and I even have a shelf in the spare room of oatmeal and snack foods. If you were to look in my fridge it is full. If you were to look in our free standing freezer the odds of something falling out on your foot is over 90%. I know that I have this obsession because of going hungry as a teenager and being too afraid of being there again. I know it is ridiculous to have eight boxes of instant oatmeal and while some of it is from lack of organization and not knowing what I actually have some of it I carry from my childhood and don’t blame my mom at all … I blamed my dad if anybody.

I also see a lot of the anxiety and other issues that my mom suffered in Nicole. Nicole is very anxious and afraid of a lot of things and gets very upset over the smallest things. She wants to please everybody. I can be like this too but not to the extent that she is.

The plan when my mom was diagnosed was to bring my mom down here and live with us until she died. I even talked to her doctor about it and he agreed. I knew that Jim wouldn’t give her the care she would need. Unfortunately, this never happened but I regret not having that time with her. I also regret that I never got to say goodbye properly.

It is my biggest hope, when pertaining to my mom, that she would be proud of me and the way I have lived my life.

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