I wrote in detail about my mom last year at I remember Momma; If you could see where I have gone. We had a great relationship growing up, and I don’t feel anything was left unsaid between us when she died on April 8, 1996 of her first heart attack. It was two days before my birthday, two days before I was scheduled to leave for California, and it was unexpected, so there was very little stress about it. I was told she was fine, but to drive to Tampa to see her. When I arrived, she was asleep, her husband and his family said all was well, so I left that night to come back the next day. The next morning when I arrived, some of the family seemed ticked at me and hours later I am told that my mother’s condition was actually quite serious but that her husband and her sister did not want to upset me by telling me so. So the others were surprised that I left the first night. They didn’t know that I didn’t know her condition, I hadn’t spoken to the doctor, since her husband and my aunt assured me she was fine, and just resting. That was their way, to just pretend something isn’t happening (bless their hearts).
So when I knew it was serious and she’d had stints put in, I spent as much alone time with her as I could. It would only be 2 days, but we didn’t know that. She was heavily medicated and could not speak, yet managed to open her eyes very wide once in order to look me in the eye and let me know she was there. I talked to her and I whisper-sang to her. I asked if she wanted Chapstick. She pursed her lips and I put on the Chapstick. It was the most holy moment I ever spent with her.
When she died, all of us were there. Her sister: my aunt Leslie and several of my cousins; Mom’s husband, Felito and some of his family. We held hands in a circle around her bed and prayed over her. it was very healing to be in the family setting doing that.
I left the next day to drive to California, a trip that had been planned for weeks. Some of mom’s in-laws did not like that I did not attend the wake, but her husband knew that my mother did not want a wake. I understand the wake was something for his family to do to process their grief for his loss, but – no disrespect meant to them – it wasn’t for me. Her husband was my age, so he had a large living family. And he understood.
I was glad to have eight months right after that, doing things I’d not done before, visiting states I’d not been to, seeing sights and being involved in projects that were all new to me. It occupied my mental time, so I did not feel a loss. I felt at any time I could simply give Mom a call. I was so busy for eight months until I got back home to Florida, that it made for a relatively easy transition.
I’d always been so close to my mom and thought for sure that I’d freak out when she passed, but it wasn’t like that at all. I have never even cried over it, not because I’m in denial, but because it just feels as though she’d never left. I still feel connected to that greater part of her, that part that extends far beyond the physical body. I still hear her voice in my head. I know what she’d say in certain situations, and I see her in the mirror in alarming frequency.
So there’s been no missing. There’s just been a deepening of the understanding that there is no separation.
Today is Mother’s Day and tomorrow is Mom’s birthday.
I love you, momma, we’ll meet again.