A year ago, it was done. You were officially gone from this earth forever. I honestly cannot believe it's been a year. Some days it feels like only a few weeks and other days it feels like a lifetime has passed.
In reality though, a lifetime has passed. When you left me, us, this place, you took away a large part of me. Your death left a hole that I could not have dreamed would surface. I had thought about this time often. Mostly when I sat at your bedside, watching your every breath, my own heart keeping the same rhythm as yours on the monitor. I had assured myself that once it was done, you would be 'better off' and I would continue with my life and that of my children. But with each hospital trip, I saw you grow weaker.
I never wanted you to go. I never wished this on you. I, much like you, wanted your pain to end and knew there was really only one option. On that day, my world stopped. My heart felt a pain that I hadn't understood existed. Breathing became unbearable. I lost my sight that day. I lost it in a way that only those who have cried with the passion of overwhelming hopelessness can understand.
Yours was not a good death. You did not die peacefully in your sleep as you had often spoken about. You waited on me. You knew I was coming. I always came. But this time, this fateful day, I wasn't there in time and you died in my arms. I was too preoccupied to make that trip even though I had a sinking sensation that the unanswered calls meant something much worse. Still, I refused to come. I don't blame myself for this any longer. I know it isn't my fault and it was all in God's plan. But I will always question it. I will always wonder if you would be here today had I ended the selfishness.
On that day, I solidified my place as the matriarch of this family. I stepped up and took hold of my grief and put it aside for another day. I focused on helping others to heal. I patiently held my grandmother as she cried. I comforted my grandfather as he suppressed his grief. I helped two parents bury their child. Not my mother, no, their child.
That week was one of the most humbling, absurd and yet hilarious weeks of my life. I cried harder than I thought possible and yet laughed at the awkwardness of it all. I felt abandoned and free. I was no longer a caretaker of all your pain and selfishness but yet I had lost my first love. Your death was my open door and my misfortune. But mostly, it was an opportunity lost.
Your mother was a basket case. She busied herself with the preparations for your funeral to ease the pain. She insisted I find the blue dress you wore to my wedding because according to her, it was "the only dress you ever looked good in." She went out and bought you new underwear because apparently you can't go to see Jesus without panties. We argued over pantyhose because she was paralyzed at the thought of you wearing knee highs with a short dress. I should probably apologize for the casket being open. I argued nonstop with her over that and even explained to her how you told me when I was a child that if I opened your casket for every jackass to say 'how good you looked', you would come back and haunt me. But in the end, she needed it. Just like putting panties on a corpse, every conversation with her was a struggle to maintain composure. It was the most absurd time in my life and I pray I never relive it. But you would have laughed if you had been here.
I should probably tell you that she found some 'unmentionables' under your bed and I told her it was something from your doctor. You're welcome.
I miss you, mom. I miss your humor, I miss your laugh, I miss your way of annoying the hell out of me until I told you everything I was hiding.
I wish you could see the boys. I wish you could hear them talk about you. Bonus remembers you. He retells stories of your clumsiness and your smoking. In fact, they both yell at smokers now. Deuce seems to always mention your name when I'm thinking about you. It's as if he can sense your presence. But he doesn't remember the nana that loved him so. He only knows of his "dead nana who lives in heaven."
But you should know that I am coping well. I am surrounded by more love than I deserve. I have friends that have shown me compassion without pity. Love without limits. I have these wonderful people who have supported me through this pain and are now destined to be stuck with me forever.
It has been a rough year without you, but I know it will get easier.
I love you, mom.