I belong to a caregiving group at www.caregiving.com 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.
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
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.