Mother’s Day

Nine year’s ago I was celebrating Mother’s Day with you. I bought you a card and it saddens me that that is all I can remember. I’m sure we went out for breakfast or that I may have bought you flowers, but I’m sad that I don’t remember much more than buying you a card nine years ago. Had I known that would be my last Mother’s Day with you I would have documented it so much better. I would have taken more pictures with you. I’m sorry I didn’t.
I know over the 23 years we had together we had our ups and downs like all mothers and daughters do. Looking back those arguments and disagreements mean nothing. You were the best mom a girl could ask for. Even though you were overprotective of me, you always made sure I was safe, allowed me to grow, develop my own thoughts and opinions, supported me when I switched from majoring in journalism to music, and you allowed me to experience a lot of pretty awesome things, including an unforgettable trip to NYC with dad after 9/11 so I could meet Kevin.
So much has changed since you’ve been gone and I still find myself reaching for the phone sometimes to call you and tell you about things and realize I can’t. That’s the one thing that hurts the most is not being able to share my successes with you and the progress I’m making in several different ways. I hate that I lost you way too soon, and even though I lost you in a way that I didn’t want to, I know it was a blessing because I know you didn’t like doctors or anything medical. I will always wish that I could have one more hug, one more conversation, one more I love you from you. Thank you for loving me unconditionally and allowing me to be the person I am today. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. I love you and miss you.

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Looking back…

As I look back on this past year, I realize that I am a lot stronger than I ever though was possible. The year started with my dad in the hospital in January, then again in March, April, May June, July, September, and November. He went through so much this year and there was a period of three months that I had to take off from work because of running out of FMLA time and needing to be home with dad to administer antibiotics via a PICC line three times a day. In all of the hard times this year I realized that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew I was. I don’t know that a lot of people truly know all I went through this year and I will go into more detail in a later blog.

I never imagined ending 2017 without my dad. He was such a fighter this year with all of his health ailments, and while that didn’t help my generalized anxiety disorder, I still feel like I had some great moments with him. During  the three months I was off from work he and I would watch The People’s Court together during the day and a Cubs game at night. I’m thankful for all of the moments I was able to have with him over these last several years and I know how much he loved me. Maybe one day I will post the video I recorded of him telling me he loves me, but in my healing journey I’m not there yet.

While there were more tough times this year, than good times, I still managed to have some pretty good times. Some of the good times this year included me celebrating my 30th birthday with two of the best friends any girl could ask for. Justin and Katie had shirts made, we went to Sleepy Creek Winery, and did a whole lot of other fun stuff for my birthday. I’m so lucky to have these two in my life. They are more like a brother and sister to me. I’m so excited for more adventures to come with them in 2018, and of course Max and Bentley, their German Shepherds. I know this next year is going to be a lot of fun!

Also this year I got to meet Jen Widerstrom. I drove up to Naperville, IL for her book tour and after her book talk and answering some questions from attendees, she was signing her book. She is one of the most down to Earth people I’ve met. She and I talked for a few minutes, and she remembered me from winning a DietBet she hosted in 2016. I’ve been lucky enough to keep in touch with her over the last year and I can’t wait to see her at the retreat she is planning in 2018.

I was also blessed enough this year to spend Christmas with several of my cousins in Indiana. And while I wish my dad could have been here to celebrate as well, I am glad I was able to go up for a few days. This was the first time I had really experienced a big family Christmas. Getting to help make treats, and meeting other family that I haven’t met was a lot of fun. The best part of the trip was when my cousin Shanna surprised my Aunt Joyce with a trip to Hawaii. It was a three part gift with the last being a shirt that said, “I can’t keep calm, I’m going to Hawaii”. She didn’t have the shirt completely open and at first thought it said, “I can’t keep calm, I’m going to y’all.” It was such a great experience to see her face when she realized it said Hawaii on the shirt. This has been her dream vacation, so I’m happy for her that she gets to go.

As 2018 approaches, I’m looking back at this last year with a lot of emotions. I never imagined I lose my dad so soon, but he and I had talked about his end of life wishes a lot over the years. At the end of 2016 he told me there was a good likelihood with his heart failure that he wouldn’t be here this time this year. He was right, but it wasn’t due to his heart failure. Signing a DNR for him was literally the single hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I’m grateful for the nurse who took care of him in his final hours and let us use her phone so he could listen to Elvis.

In the new year, I’m going to be focused on living life again. I put myself last in order to make sure my dad was taken care of. I’m ready to rediscover who I am and what I am capable of being completely independent now. I’m excited to do things out of my comfort zone, actually go on a vacation this year (Jen’s 2018 retreat), spend more time with family and friends, and focus on getting my health back in check. I’m looking into the new year with optimism and excitement. Let’s do this 2018.

2011

2011 started off as any New Year does. My mom and I watched the ball drop in Times Square on TV. My dad was working overnight at the time so he was at work ringing in the new year. It was a tradition for us to watch the Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Dick Clark, and then Ryan Seacrest after Dick Clark’s passing.

The first couple of months of the new year were pretty uneventful. Life went on as normal. Resolutions made, like with many people, weren’t kept. We just kept going like usual, and then March came. Usually March is one of my favorites months of the year because my dad’s birthday is in March and of course St. Patrick’s Day. I loved wearing green and then pinching my friends and family if they weren’t wearing green.

Mid March was like any other mid March. The weather couldn’t make up it’s mind on if it wanted to be warm or cool. The night of March 16th I had been up late, said bye to my dad as he was leaving for work, and went back to my room to watch some more TV. I remembered that I still had the iron and ironing board in my room and didn’t want my mom to have to wake me early to get it, so around 11:30pm or so I took it out to the living room for her. My mom was still up and complaining of a headache, which wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for her. I told her I was going to bed and that I loved her. Little did I know that would be the last time I would get to talk to my mom.

The next morning, March 17th, my dad came home and yelled back to let her know he was home and he didn’t get an answer. He went back to the bedroom and didn’t hear the shower running, which was odd because normally my mom would already be getting ready for work around 7:15-7:30am. When he looked in the bathroom he saw my mom on the floor. He ran back to my bedroom, threw open my door and yelled, “Sarah, I think your mom is dead.” That’s not something  you ever want to hear or how you want to get woken up. I went back to the bathroom with my dad and I could tell my mom was gone.

The rest of the day was a whirlwind. We called 911. Paramedics arrived first and had to call the hospital to have a doctor okay a time of death. After that happened the sheriff’s office, a crime scene investigator, and the coroner’s office all came out. When a person dies at home and they haven’t been under the care of a doctor there is so much that has to be done to rule out something like foul play etc. After my dad and I answered tons of questions the coroner took my mom’s body to do an autopsy to determine her cause of death. We got a call later that afternoon saying the autopsy had been completed and a cause of death had been determined. My mom had a brain aneurysm at the base of her brainstem that ruptured. The coroner said that because of the location of it when it ruptured she wasn’t in any pain and wouldn’t even have known anything had happened, which gave me some piece of mind.

The next few days were rough with having to notify family and friends. My mom never liked talking about end of life stuff, so we had no idea what her last wishes were. My dad and I did what we could and had her cremated and then held a really nice memorial service and a fellowship after. It was so hard and for a long time I felt lost without my mom. As time goes on you adjust and get used to what has become your new normal, but the sadness still hits on holidays, birthdays, mother’s day.

As time goes on and exciting things happen you still get that reflex to pick up your phone to call because you want to share something and then you realize you can’t. As time goes on it becomes easier to cope and manage, but it still feels like a part of you is missing.

With Christmas coming up my hope is that for whoever is reading this blog, who has gone through the loss of a parent (or both parents like myself), is that you are surrounded by family and friends and lots of love. Merry Christmas!