In my attempt to deal with this, I feel retelling the story of my interpretation of mother's last day here on earth will help.. As I said in earlier posts, the survival mode was thick and I wasnt even aware of it.. Thinking back, i cant help but feel sorry for my whole family, especially Mama.. Active dying is hard work.. Especially when your heart is pretty strong but your body is "ate up" with cancer.. My mother's heart pumped extremely hard, keeping her breathing long after it seemed her mind was gone.. Watching this take place, in itself, was traumatic.. Add the feelings of guilt and sadness and I had the perfect storm for emotional torture.. Probably why I chose to ignore my feelings after her death, because I like to torture myself, when I feel guilty..
Why guilt? I felt like such a wimp the weeks that proceeded my mother's death.. It goes back to 1987, when my grandmother died.. This was my father's mother, who had died on October 29th that year from recurring cancer.. She had also had a stroke 3 years before and was in a nursing home.. I watched her demise as well, but not nearly as close as I watched my own mother's.. I was only 17 and it was all about ME anyway, back then.. I did get the feeling the night that she died that THIS was the night.. I HAD to stay at the nursing home.. I was the only grandchild that was there.. I even had an argument with Mama that evening.. She accused me of wanting to stay there because I didnt want to go to school the next day.. lol I cant fault her for that because I am a mom too and I understand why.. haha But I told her it was a FEELING I had and felt the need to stay.. I stayed and while I was there I ALMOST witnessed my grandmother's LAST BREATH.. I was in the room with her, my dad and my 2 aunts.. She stopped breathing for a couple of seconds and the nurse even said "She's gone", but then she gasped for air and was back.. It was then that I freaked out and told my dad "I can't handle this..".. Daddy understood and I left the room.. She died a few minutes later, while I was on the phone with my mother..
These memories stayed with me ever since.. I had a good bit of anxiety over it afterwards.. This is what I thought of the last few weeks Mama was alive.. I remember crying on the phone with my sister.. She said "Well Michelle, maybe you shouldn't be there when Mama dies.." I totally agreed with her but told her I would gauge the situation as it happened.. At one point, I do believe I felt that I shouldn't be there because of this anxiety..
But there I was, in survival mode, right beside my mother's bed.. Which, by the way, was a hospital bed, that was set up in my OLD ROOM.. MY old bedroom.. The one that had posters of Rick Springfield, Duran Duran and Billy Idol all over the walls when I was a kid.. It now had a hospital bed in it, with my dying mom lying in it, while my dad, my sister, and I were holding vigil by her side.. It felt kind of sick to me.. We were basically sitting around, waiting for Mama to die.. I felt HORRIBLE for that.. But, I also didnt want my mother to die ALONE.. I felt a ton of guilt.. I didnt want my mother to die.. EVER.. But here I was, WAITING for her to.. I truly believe this is where most of my guilt comes from.. I know my mother would NEVER have faulted me for this.. But, I feel bad and I have to let this guilt go..
Also, I remember feeling guilty because, once I was there, I was filled with SO MUCH ANXIETY and really didnt want to be there.. I would cry and cry, while holding my mother's hand.. She was in and out of consciousness at this point but I couldnt help but wonder if she KNEW how upset I was and if that upset her too? My mother tried to protect us from her dying as much as she could.. 11 days before she died, she APOLOGIZED for dying and making my sister and I cry, when we discussed her funeral and "after party" as she called it.. It didnt feel right, planning this "party" for Mama, even though she wasnt going to be there.. It was MESSED UP..
Guilt, guilt and more guilt.. I still feel guilt because I can no longer visit the house that my Dad is living in, because Mama died there.. I know I will have to face this eventually.. Probably sooner than later.. I think my next blog entry is going to be about memories that stick in my head about the day my mother died.. They have stayed with me because they were extremely moving..