I find myself haunted by my Mom. Not in any awful, ghosts in the attic way. But definitely haunted. Can't sleep at night, can't stop thinking of all the things I didn't do, can't help but think "I'm sorry, Mom" over and over in my head. My friend, D keeps telling me that you can makes yourself crazy with "what ifs". And I know that's true. But at night, as I lay in bed, my mind seems to run on a gerbil wheel all of its own making.
I wish that I had hugged Mom more.
I wish I'd invited her downstairs to watch movies and tv shows.
I wish I'd treasured every moment I had instead of assuming we'd have more.
I wish I'd done more to make her happy, done what she asked more.
I wish I'd been more patient, more kind.
I wish I'd listened to her more- about how she felt, what she wanted, what she needed.
I wish I'd tried to wake her up that day when I got home from work.
I'm not sure what I believe about what happens after we die. The Catholic Church has very specific ideas. The scholar in my doesn't quite believe. Dad has begun to obsessively watch paranormal shows, read into that what you will. One thing we agree on is that wherever Mom is, she's not here.
And that's the crux of the problem- she's not here. She's not here for me to apologize to. To hug. To tell her I love her.
And so I don't have any way to make amends. I don't have any way to say I'm sorry that I didn't do enough. Even though she was sick for so long, we all just assumed that she'd be sick, but she'd be around. I took the time I thought we'd have for granted, and now I find I'm paying for it. I find that I am haunted by all of the things I should have done, or said. I can't think of her without crying. I have a hard time remembering what things were like before she got sick. I try so hard to hold onto the images I have of her from growing up, and not that last image I have of her on the floor, surrounded by EMS.
There is not a day that goes by that I wouldn't trade it to have her back.
I thought of her a lot last week with SAMLA. Last year I spent all of my breaks between sessions calling her and telling her about the cool things I'd just heard. She talked me through my own presentation. This year I spent my breaks standing on the same smoking patio, with my phone in my hand and realizing that there was no one to call. I was so nervous during my panel, I thought I was going to throw up.
I know it's supposedly normal for it to take a while to learn how to adjust to this new reality. Friends say it gets better. But does the guilt of all the things you should have done go away? Will there ever be a time when I don't feel as though I failed my Mom?
The holidays are quickly approaching, and I just don't know what I'm going to do. For Mom, Christmas was her time of year. The season started as soon as you saw Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I plan on writing Christmas cards during the parade, just like Mom told me, although she wasn't able to do so these past couple of years. I plan on going to pick out the tree and put it up the day after Thanksgiving, as we always did. Going through the decorations, setting out her favorites will be hard. Trying to juggle the roles she played- stuffing stockings, setting out gifts, who gets what, will be hard.
The last couple of years, Mom kept saying that this might be her last Christmas. Last year was, and we had no idea. This year without her, I'm not sure how it goes. Do my feelings get worse as the holidays grow closer? Do I feel closer to her as we get nearer to her favorite holiday? Will anything make any of this better?
I wish she was here to ask. Moms prepare you for lots of things- how to deal with disappointment, the boy who doesn't like you back, how to buy things for your first apartment, how to make a home. They don't prepare you for how to go on without them.