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ishouldhavehad10ofyou  - a blog by KLC

ishouldhavehad10ofyou - a blog by KLC

Friday, August 03, 2012

18 years ago at 5:04 a.m., my mom died. I remember it clearly. The night before, I was in

her hospital room. It was a Saturday night. I fed her dinner. I chose her menu every day.

It was spaghetti. My mom loved spaghetti. She was actually eating, which was a first. I

was feeding her. I had her napkin all tucked into her gown and when it fell, I reached over

her to put the napkin back and she started kissing my right cheek. “Ok, OKKK. I get it.

You love me.” We were actually making plans to take her home, complete with a hospital

bed at home. That secretly terrified me as I knew I would be the one at my parents’ house

alone. Even though I had taken care of her both at home and at the hospital since

Christmas, she was somewhat mobile when at home. I fed her and helped her in and out

of the tub (Have you seen that scene from the movie “One True Thing” with Meryl Streep

in the bathtub with her daughter Renee Zellweger ? = my life), but the thought of a

hospital bed in our living room seemed odd. Of course the cost would be astronomical

and I turned on the tv and said, “Don’t worry. I bought a lottery ticket and they are about

to call out the numbers. I got this taken care of.” [We obviously did not win, but it

lightened the mood for a second.]

 

I was then joined at the hospital by my dad, my Uncle Jack and my Aunt Vicki. She was

doing fine and putting on make-up, her wig and painting her nails when this pain in her

legs hit her half way through painting her nails. She told me to finish her nails (through

the cries) and I said “NOW?” and she said, “No, for the funeral.” “You are being silly.” It

was the only time I heard her cry out in pain. Her room was a suite (what I guess to be

now as the death suite – what they give to patients who are about to die: big screen tv

(rare back then), sofa, recliner, a private bath and her bed). I was sitting on the sofa

facing her bed and she screamed out “I love you Kellie. I love you Kellie. I love you

Kellie.” Those were her last words. We had just witnessed her last surge. It seems to a

non-medical person that cancer patients are on the verge of death (as she was in ICU)

and then make a huge comeback, only to die soon thereafter. They never tell you that

part. So, they come in and do some things to her that I won’t tell you and give her a pain

shot. She was out.

 

They actually said to us, someone should stay tonight and my Dad and I simultaneously

said “I will”. Still, it did not occur to me it was her final night. My dad and mom never told

my brother and I she was dying. For four months, we had no clue while Colin lived in

NYC and my dad traveled for work. She said to me one day, “I should have had 10 of

you.” Sometimes I write that on a post it and put it on my computer in my office at work. It

makes me feel loved. When I feel down or I am going through struggles (more on that

later), I think of what my mom went through and say to myself: “People dying of cancer

would love to have my problem.”

 

I asked the nurses to please give her a pain shot consistently because I was not

witnessing the cries I had seen earlier again. I slept on the sofa bed, my dad in the

recliner next to me. My mom had on a plastic oxygen mask and every time she would

take it off, this horrible siren would go off. My dad and I took turns getting up and putting it

back on. This went on about every hour. The last time my dad got up he was baby talking

her, “Keep the mask on Schulzie [he called her Schulz after Charles Schulz, the illustrator

of Peanuts, because she was such a tiny peanut]. I wuv you so much.” The last time she

pulled off the mask at about 4am, it was my turn. I got up. I was irritated and tired and I

said to her, “Look, these are your options. You can keep the mask on and stay with the

daughter that loves you or you can keep the mask off and visit Jesus. Which is it going to

be?” She looked at me and tugged on my hair, which was then in a short bob, and the

mask went back on. “Good choice,” I said.

 

An hour later, my dad and I awoke to nurse Dee Dee in the room. Her vitals were

dropping. We jolted up and my dad grabbed me and said, “Say a prayer, this is it.” I did

as I was told and said a prayer. Then we heard over the hospital page system, “Code

blue room 922, Code blue room 922″. That was my mom’s room. It was weird to hear

them calling my mom’s room after I had been hearing other people’s rooms for months.

 

They started to usher Dad and I into the hall and the nurse asked me what she could do.

I said, “If she opens her eyes, come and get us.” I did not want her to die alone.

As we entered the hallway, the sleepy, empty hospital on an early Sunday morning

suddenly had everyone in scrubs running toward my mom’s room. Ah, but she had a

living will. So they wheeled the crash cart out and my dad went to the pay phone right

down the hall. This is 1994-no cell phones. We could see her room door from the phone.

My dad called, I think, Uncle Jack (his brother) and basically sat on the phone with him

saying over and over, “God, I think this is it.” Then, the scrubs started walking out of my

mom’s room slowly, one by one, heads down. Nurse Dee Dee came out to me with tears

in her eyes and said, “I am so sorry.” My dad was still on the phone. Uncle Jack and Aunt

Vicki were on their way. I remember actually feeling bad for Dee Dee – as if we ruined her

day. While they unhooked my mom from everything, they ushered us into a small wooden

room with her respiratory therapist and some other medical personnel with a telephone. I

still remember what I was wearing. Red long sleeve shirt, jeans and beat up brown

loafers my friend Trish gave to me. My dad called Colin first in NYC. As we all sat silently

in that room, my dad said “Answer the phone, Colin” each time it rang. I don’t know what

Dad said but he handed the phone to me and I said, “You don’t know what it is like to be

here.” Colin said, “You don’t know what it is like NOT to be there.” Then my dad called my

mom’s brother Uncle Rich and that is when he broke down. My dad loved Rich like a

brother, who died suddenly a year later (which crushed my dad – he still carries his

funeral card in his wallet). I went to another pay phone and called my sorority house –

Mulligan’s room – and Deirdre’s apartment. I left them both messages that my mom had

died and if they could let everyone know I would appreciate it. [It is those very same

wonderful sorority sisters and friends that have loved and supported me then and now

with my current struggles, even going so far as surprising me with an ipad so I can write,

thus, the blog...]

 

When I returned to my dad, he and I got to go in with Mom. Just the three of us. I then

remembered two things my mom said. Remove my jewelry so the undertaker does not

steal it. I put her necklace on me and kept it there for years -never taking it off. Her

wedding rings had been previously cut off due to the swelling from chemo. I removed her

earrings and put them in my change purse where one remains today. I then recalled what

she told me the night before. She asked me to finish painting her nails for the funeral.

That was my mom. Big on clean nails, clean shoes and haircuts. So, Dad held her fingers

and hands while I painted her nails. If nothing else, she did not want to have her nails half

done.

Uncle Jack and Aunt Vicki arrived and I remember driving back to my parents’ house to

clean it up. I was actually mowing and planting flowers within four (4) hours of my mom

dying so our house did not look like white trash with relatives arriving. Then I heard a

door slam. “Col?” It was my brother. “Helloooo, Miss Green Jeans.” I have no idea how

he made it home so fast from NYC but he said he walked up to the counter at the airport,

said, “My mom died. Get me on the next plane.” He was home. I then went to my home,

my sorority house, and sat in my room “The Zoo” with my sisters telling them this very

story, followed by pizza and beer at Street Scene and pool at Polo’s.

 

I still miss her, especially now that we are having a hard time after 9 years of not

conceiving and over three years of failed adoption. I always wanted to name our child

after my mom. I was thinking Schulz as a middle name. I hope I can one day. She was

human and she made mistakes, but she totally redeemed herself in my late teens and

early 20’s. Just when she became my best friend, I lost her. I also remember everything

my friends did for me, my family and my mom. 18 years later, I am grateful and can still

remember the contributions and sacrifices you all made to be there for us. Like my mom,

your good deeds will never be forgotten (including the overwhelming generosity of the

recent ipad gift after my miscarriage so I could write again).

 

When you have to go to a funeral, please remember this. 18 years later, I remember who

was NOT there just as much as who WAS there. It means a lot to be there for your

friends and family during a loss – whether that be the loss of a mother in 1994 or a

miscarriage I had a month ago. As my dad said, “Funerals are not convenient for

anyone.” And when you think you have problems, say what I always do to myself. People

dying of cancer would love to have your problem(s). xoxo (aka “socks”, according to my

spellcheck) :)

Photo added by Conflict and Scotch

Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST on Unsplash

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