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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Angels in the Living Room and Make Mine a Medium

My mother passed away on a Sunday.  She went downhill remarkably quickly, but the first bad night she had was Wednesday.  She was sleeping on the sofa when she woke up panicked, complaining that she couldn't breathe.  I set her up in the recliner, gave her some medication to help her relax, and then I brushed her hair until she relaxed and finally fell asleep.  I sat in the armchair next to the recliner the entire night.

My mother's neighbor, Debbie, came over in the morning, and she and I were chatting quietly while my mother dozed.  When my mother awoke, she looked around the room and then asked, "Where'd that man go?"

Debbie and I looked at each other, and Debbie asked, "What man?"

My mom said very nonchalantly, "The man who stood behind Rhonda watching over her all night."

I know.  Goosebumps, right?  I had them, too.  And I think that I'm dealing with my mother's death well because of that.  I was protected.  I AM protected.  I miss her.  Terribly.  But something else exists beyond this life.  I do believe that now.

My mom was a tiny woman--4'9 at the time of her death.  She was heavy when I was growing up, but she lost all her weight and managed to stay small.  My mom had a LOT of clothing that still has the tags, never worn: several pair of knit pants from Sears (size petite small) and two pair of capri pants, (size petite medium.)  The knit pants fit me, (because they stretch) but I want to return them.  I'm 5'3" and petite pants are often just a little bit short.  I prefer my pants to "break" at my shoe, and these don't.  The capris are not knit but instead a cotton-poly broadcloth, so they don't stretch.  I wasn't sure they would fit me at all. 

They do.  Perfectly.  In fact, I wore a pair to school last week. 

It's hard to get my head to accept that I'm a size medium.  Bizarre.  I still feel fat, although in my heart, I know I'm not.  I still view chairs with arms as the enemy.  I still walk into a theatre and wince at the thought of squeezing into the uncomfortable chairs.  I still gravitate toward larger styles and have a very hard time purchasing clothing that flatters this new body, instead wanting to find clothing that covers--because that's what I USED to do.

Size MEDIUM.  Me.  It's surreal...and yet it's real.  Maybe my angel can help me accept that?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Grief Brain

Grief brain is a real thing.  (Google it.  Yeah, I was surprised, too!) A little over two weeks ago, the love of my life succumbed to cancer.  My mom (Surprised?  You shouldn't be; our moms are definitely our first loves--they love us unconditionally) died rather peacefully after a very short (3 months is all) battle with cancer.

My mother was 84 and didn't pursue chemotherapy because she wanted quality of life rather than quantity of life.  I'd say she accomplished that as she was only gravely ill for less than 24 hours.  The rest of the time she was laughing, eating, watching television and only someone who really knew her would even guess she was sick.

I was fortunate enough to be able to spend my mother's final week with her.  My principal is a wonderful man who said to me, "Family comes first" when I told him of my mother's diagnosis back in December.  I spent two weeks at Christmas, a few long weekends here and there and finally her last week with her.  The last week was lovely--I guess that may sound weird, but she was well enough to be good company and to let me pamper her a bit.  I rubbed her back and her feet and gave her a pedicure and manicure, which she loved.  We had real quality time together, and I have no regrets.

But my brain!  I have really struggled these past sixteen days.  One evening almost a week after she passed, I was going out with some friends.  I didn't have a key to my mother's house because I used the garage door opener.  Instead of driving that night, my friends came to get me.  I couldn't figure out what to do to be able to get into the house because I didn't have a key.  I considered leaving my car in the driveway.  That way I could take my car keys with me and then use the garage door opener to get into the house.  Then I thought about just driving myself.  I went around and around with the problem until it finally occurred to me just to TAKE the garage door OPENER.  Seriously.

I have been back to work a week today.  The past three days, I've searched high and low in my house looking for my mother's jewelry box.  Come to find out, I left it behind.  I didn't even pack it.  Fortunately, my youngest brother picked it up and took its contents.  My mom wasn't much for jewelry--she only had a few pieces, but still...!

I've left the house twice without my cell phone.  I left my reading glasses at home today.  I handed a student an eraser today when she asked for a pencil.  Yep.  I've lost it.

The good news is that I haven't lost it for good.   This article has wonderful information on the entire process.  "Emotional jet lag" is a good way to describe it.  Here's another good source of information:   

I'm at an age when so many of my friends are sharing this experience.  It's a sad rite of passage that we must all go through--but it's not easy, nor will it ever be.

(Oh...and for those of you keeping score: I weigh 144.  To date, I've lost 161 pounds.  Sorry to disappoint those who believe gastric bypass surgery doesn't work.  And it's been more than 4.5 years!)