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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Things not to say to someone grieving…

In my life I have lost two of the most important people that anyone can lose, my mother and my father. My mom passed on 03/17/2011 at 54 and my dad on 11/29/2017 at 61. There have been other people who I have lost and who I’ve grieved for, but losing a parent is different than an aunt, uncle, grandparent. Of course you have a relationship with them, but the people who raised you leave such an impact on your life. In the last 6 years, 10 months, I’ve heard many different things that people have said to me or others grieving.

When I lost my mom people told me she was in a better place, some told me I needed to get over it, others said she wouldn’t want me to be sad. At the time I had others who called and asked me if Facebook posts they were seeing on her page were true. Some people may joke around about death or losing their parents, but I was not that way. Everyone grieves in their own way and while she is in a better place, telling someone that right after someone passes may not be the best thing to say, neither is telling someone to get over the death of a loved one because we will never be over no matter how much time passes.

Recently at some doctor’s appointments and other appointments, people told me my dad was in a better place, no longer in pain, etc. And I know him being in pain no longer is a huge relief for me because of his numerous health issues, and while his death came quick, I had a chance for closure with him that I didn’t get with my mom, but again with his passing I have heard comments from people again telling me he wouldn’t want me to be sad or cry, that he would want me to move on with my life. The most recent comment which hurt more than the others was when I recently went to a walk-in clinic for this upper respiratory stuff that’s been going around this winter. A doctor was getting a little bit of history on me, if I had siblings, my parents, what I do for work. When I told the I lost both of my parents and was an only child this doctor said, “So that makes you an orphan now”. And by the true definition of an orphan that statement is true, why would you say that to someone who had only lost their father five weeks previously?!

Some of the best things you can do for someone grieving is offer to go to the funeral home with them to make arrangements, take them out to lunch or dinner, spend a weekend day with them, bring over a home cooked meal so they don’t have to worry about cooking for a night, let them call you and listen to them cry if they need to, or just to vent. There are so many productive ways to help someone who is grieving rather than saying they are in a better place or they wouldn’t want you to be sad, because while that may be true, words can hurt even if they are meant in the best possible way. We learn to live without them in our lives, but there will always be things that trigger us and make us relive the day we lost them.

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!