I didn’t get to tell her that my eyes healed all the way, and that I only need glasses to read, and that it’s easier to drive at night. I didn’t get to tell her that I got a new job, something completely outside of my comfort zone that I ended up really loving. I did not get to tell her about the trip to Salem I took with my girlfriends, even though she knew every step of the planning stage. I did not get to tell her about the new apartment that we found, smaller than our last but better suited to our needs. I didn’t get to tell her that some of the issues with the kiddos ended up resolving for the better, and her grandchildren are thriving in new ways. I didn’t get to tell her about the poetry reading I did in October, where my husband and my father and sister and best friend all came to hear me read, but none of it mattered because she wasn’t there. I didn’t get to tell her about the deadliest snowstorm since ’77, because she died in the middle of it. But for the 8 months before that, I still couldn’t tell her anything.
On Friday, May 28th, the calendar punched me in the face. See, my sister went on a cruise to Mexico. Because her phone has not been working as of late, she took my mother’s phone with her for communication. I went ahead and changed my contact information from “Momma” to “Mexican Bernie.” I even took a picture of Bernadette and replaced mom’s photo. All was fine, until my phone went off with the first text from Bernadette, and I saw, for the first time in a year, my last text from Mom: Sitting out early. Please make coffee for me.
This sent me into an emotional spiral, complicated further the next day when my phone decided to revert to its previous contacts, so when my sister texted me in the morning it said text from “Momma-” her photo and everything was back! I don’t know why, but it was not when I needed first thing in the morning. Then I went to work. I have a tiny paper calendar that I keep under the monitor of my computer so that I know what day it is and what the week ahead looks like for renters. I glanced at this when I got there and saw it was the 28th, and then my brain instantly pulled the text message I had seen a few days earlier out of the ether and reminded me that it was sent on April 28th of last year. Meaning, that Friday was the one year anniversary of the last time I had a conversation with my mother. Meaning, on Saturday it was one year that we have lived without her.
It is a weird thing when someone passes after an illness such as mother’s. While I have no doubt that the one year anniversary of her death will be difficult, in many ways I feel that time to be now. I don’t know how much I wrote about the events of the day at the time, or even if I did, but I will tell you a small bit. Perhaps you are a concert reader who already knows, but my grandmother died when I was small, and it was me who found her as she took her last breath. And it was me who found my mom, in much the same position that my grandmother had been, almost exactly- but Mom didn’t die then. Mom fought like hell for 8 months first, then died one day before the anniversary of her sister’s passing. The eerie coincidence of both circumstances stays with me. She went at the same time as my aunt, and in the same manner as my grandmother.
Yes, my mother was with us for 8 months, but in that 8 months, she did not leave a hospital bed. She did not eat, she did not speak, she occasionally would smile at me and I would wonder if it was reflex. But then, I would put my face close to her face and she would pucker her lips on my cheek and I knew she was in there. For 8 months she gave me these sad kisses, and I would paint her nails, and brush her hair, and play music for her. I don’t like remembering this time however, because it wasn’t my REAL mom. My real mom spoke. My real mom wouldn’t shut up, in fact. My real mom was ready every morning on her back porch, waiting for me to come over at the crack of dawn and have coffee. That woman died on April 29th, 2022.
I made it through the day okay. It was actually a little better than I thought it would be, mostly because I picked up a shift at work to keep my mind occupied. Of course when I got home I started to get a little sad, I think. Kevin came over, and then I went to Carey’s, and I talked to Bernie and dad, and I remembered all the friends and all the family that love me and that I still have by my side. So no, I didn’t get to tell her about so many things that happened in the past year, but I did get to tell all of them- and that is just as important.
Now, on a related note, I would like to talk for a quick minute about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walk. If you click the link in the previous sentence, you will be directed to the homepage for Team Sunflower. Team Sunflower will be walking this year in honor of my mother’s contributions to the mental health community. She believed in the AFSP, and participated for several years. When it started to grow and they started having health and community services offered, mom even got her organization to start attending. She would walk with me every year, despite being an arthritic woman with a bad foot. My mother was a mental health and addiction nurse, and worked tirelessly to help those in need. We are trying to get a big group together for the walk this year, so if any friends or family would like to join us on the day, please let me know! And of course, if you cannot walk with us but would like to make a donation, that is acceptable as well. But it is important to me to memorialize Mom in this way come September, because while I know she has helped many people in our community, I can say for certain that there is at least one life she has saved over and over again, and that is mine. So, this year we walk for her.
Okay. It is 5:00 a.m. now on Sunday morning, and I was going to save this blog for Tuesday’s update but…the birds are chirping outside. I am drinking my coffee. I quit cigarettes, and I didn’t get to tell her that either, although I am vaping a little. Oh, but what I would not give for one more morning- just one more morning where I could go over to her house right now and put on the coffee pot and sit on the back porch and have a cigarette with my mom.
One thought on “Early Morning Coffee”
Your Mom is always listening to you you and she hears every thought and word . She is at peace and watching over you and is proud of you and your accomplishments. Hard to brr er piece her struggle lasted so long but it must she was here for all of us to grow in ways we can’t imagine. Love and hugs to her wonderful daughter.
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