Self Care & Wild Animal Nights

16 Jun
shallow focus photo of three white brown and black ceramic floral mugs on saucers

Photo by samer daboul on Pexels.com

One thing I’ve learned through the grieving process is that taking care of yourself is critical during this time. While it is really important throughout life, during the progression of the various stages of grief you need focused time to take care of you.

This has taken on many forms for me over the past 49 days. Everything from allowing myself a little unhealthy comfort food or a glass of wine to spending an entire day reading a good book. It has meant saying “no” to picking up an extra shift at work without feeling guilty, or picking up a shift in order to keep my mind busy and give my heart someone to care for and love. Extra cups of coffee and sleeping in (assuming you don’t have to deal with crazy cat – more on that in a minute), scheduling time to do the things you love doing but rarely take time for, all of this and more add up to self nurturing of me. It might sound terrible to some, but there are times when I could go an entire weekend without seeing or talking to another human being and not mind one bit.

I’ve also found that keeping a running, written to-do list and scheduling those tasks needing my attention helps me to focus and actually accomplish things. This all sounds an awful lot like ‘adulting’, and it is, but it is adulting on a seriously centered level for the sake of sanity. The alternative is letting everything go completely to pieces, running wild and carefree, a road to self destruction.

The most beneficial routine has been my morning quiet time. I get showered and ready for work, then grab my prayer veil (it is both humbling and helps me focus), getting on my knees and praying. Then spending time in God’s Word and a good devotional. Life makes much more sense and I know I’m heard and loved when I spend time with the Lord. I recommend it above and before all other things.

34504465_1837501269668722_1206293684509736960_nNow about the crazy cat shenanigans that went on over the past few nights. Seems my cat likes to imagine she is a panther, deep in the jungle, hunting her prey, spying it and running after it at top speed to close the distance from the fleeing victim before pouncing with an attack. Throughout the apartment, across the bed and my was-asleep-self and out of the room again. Maybe it is just that time we refer to as “the rips” with previous felines. Or perhaps my fur baby is just bat sh*t crazy. I don’t want to rule out any real possible reasons for this behavior. I do want it to stop. Closing my bedroom door is not an option as the litter box is in my half bath off my room, and if you close the door she will knock in rapid fire succession with her paws and that is equally annoying at 2:00am.

This is my world, welcome to my marvelous life!

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Coffee Musings On Sunday Afternoon

10 Jun
aroma beverage black coffee blur

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I sit down a lot of days intending to write a post and while I have a lot on my mind, lately I struggle to put it into words. I’m going to just randomly go with it today and see where it takes me.

I’m still going through the grief stages over the loss of my mom. She was an amazing woman, a super great mom, and my best friend. The past 8 years were some of the best years of my life. My kids became adults with families of their own to be enjoyed, and my life took a major new direction. Talk about God taking a bad situation (my very unwanted divorce) and turning it into something very good, these last 8 years of her life were spent with me, my sister and nieces under one very large roof making so many memories. I didn’t have to come home from work and try to squeeze in time to visit or call her, mom lived there with me every day. When I got home from work we sat and chatted about our days over coffee, and once she retired two years ago, she would enjoy my sharing about my residents and my experiences. Often I asked her for advice or she shared her years of wisdom with me when a resident or situation was a true challenge. My heart for this job was there but mom helped to fine tune it by example. She learned the hard way, I learned from her sharing what she learned over her career.

43 days ago my sister and I headed out the door to the grocery store. I said “I’ll be back” and mom said “I’ll be right here!”. But she wouldn’t be here when we returned some 15 minutes or so later. We entered the store and while in the first few aisles heard the sirens of EMS and police responding, unbeknownst to us, to our apartment building. While my brother was reading the dispatch on his phone (he is a fire fighter in our township but was off that day) and calling me to confirm our address and apartment number, my niece was on her knees over mom’s body in the hallway and bathroom doorway of my apartment doing CPR and talking to the 911 operator who kept her focused on the task at hand until medics arrived to take over.  He knew. Even denying it out loud and trying to calm my sister as we ran out of the store, I knew. She knew. She tried to call mom and got no answer. She tried to call her daughter and got no answer. In less than 5 minutes we pulled into the parking lot of our complex to many flashing lights. We ran in and my niece was sitting on the floor outside of my door sobbing in the arms of a neighbor as we tried to shove through the door. I could see mom on the living room floor, a medic doing CPR, and I could see her eyes partially opened and no life in them anymore. From the doorway I could see that she was gone. Then the cop pushed us back out of the door. My sister and I were yelling to stop the CPR she was a DNR and hospice patient. They let my sister in to search for the paperwork in the back bedroom. I sat on the landing and called my kids. I knew there wasn’t going to be a sudden intake of breath, her heart wouldn’t start beating again. She was not here anymore. After searching the bedroom that would have been mom’s my sister called hospice and they sent a scan of the DNR to her phone so she could show the medics, the doc on the phone and coroner could make the call to cease trying to bring her back (she wasn’t coming back and we all knew this). They covered her with a sheet, packed up, and each one hugged us on the way out and expressed their condolences. Then they let us in to my apartment.

I sat down next to her body, turned back the sheet and held her hand. There was no life in that hand, no life in her beautiful blue eyes. I brushed her hair back gently with my free hand, talked to her, but she did not answer. She really was gone and everything seemed so surreal. I felt as if I was watching someone else’s life, this had to be a bad dream. In many ways it still hasn’t sunk in firmly that she is not here anymore. Maybe that is because her spirit still lingers, I don’t know. What I do know is every day I think of something I want to say to her, or share with her, and then I remember she isn’t here. I don’t like going back to the house for any reason because that was her home, our home, but this apartment never was home for her. She died after we all made one real memory, and less than 24 hours after we moved in. Just a temporary visitor in my place, she was simply passing through.

As the next few hours would pass my siblings and their spouses and kids would arrive, and my kids. My sister would make coffee, because that is what mom always did in a crisis, started a pot of coffee and then we got down to figuring things out. This was no different. Someone went and bought beer and wine, and we cried and laughed through shared memories and gathered information about what had led up to this sudden but not unexpected event. Eventually the nieces and nephews moved the ‘party’ to my daughter’s house, my siblings went home, and I wrapped mom’s prayer shawl around me and went to bed. Exhaustion helped me sleep.

This past Friday I went to the grocery store, something that I try to avoid these days. Mostly because of that day. The store brings up negative feelings. But I have to eat.  I grabbed my cart inside the main entrance/lobby, and started through the doors when I heard sirens coming and the squad and fire truck went flying by. It caused my heart to skip a beat and all those feelings came rushing back. UGH! Deep breath in, exhale, and I talked myself off of that ledge and into the produce section. A few aisles in and I spot my younger brother, shopping with the fire guys for their food for the day. Big hug, and it was like a healing balm to my soul. I needed to run into him right there while I was struggling with those emotions. The rest of the shopping trip had a completely different “feel” to it.

Grief is a funny thing, the stages aren’t in any particular order. I’ve learned you go through some many times over, and just when you think you’ve settled into acceptance something triggers memories and fresh pain. Not sure we ever really do truly accept it. We acknowledge the reality that our loved one is gone, but I don’t think it ever really stops hurting. We simply learn to live with the loss. And coffee. I drink a lot of coffee these days because that is how we deal with life here, one cup at a time.

34690208_10210065401065397_1409789462627483648_n.jpgI’ve always been an introvert. People laugh when I say this because they associate being shy with being introverted. No, introverts aren’t necessarily shy. Once I get to know someone the last word they’d use to describe me would be ‘shy’.  But introverts do find social situations can be draining of their energy. The more people and activity in a situation the more it taxes us. We tend to be home bodies because we need the silence and solitude to recharge our minds, hearts and souls. Many close to me have expressed concern about how well I’ll handle living alone. No need to be worried, I relish the quiet, the peace, and the solitude. I can spend hours in a good book, working on a crochet project, writing on a draft for a novel, or a blog post. I dive into my Bible and a good devotional or Bible study and fill my soul with good stuff. My apartment is my nest, my haven, and the time alone is wonderful for me to recharge, process and learn. I’ll be just fine.

 

 

Zucchini Boats ~ Recipe Share

9 Jun

Today for my lean and green meal I made zucchini boats. These are SO simple to make and SO darn good!

34885655_1842177042534478_226483881899982848_nZucchini Boats

Looks Delicious–
Low carb!…YES!! talk about yummy!
SIMPLE EASY SIDE DISH…
Slice the zucchini in half. Slice off the bottom to keep in stable. Brush with olive oil and top with garlic or garlic powder. Top with sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Use mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese or mixed blend.. Bake 375 for 20 to 30 minutes until soft.

I used a little onion powder and Mrs. Dash, and topped them with Ro-Tel tomatoes rather than fresh ones. OMYummy! Paired with some chicken it was healthy and wonderful. I take the lazy way out and boil the chicken but grilled, broiled, whatever you want to do go for it!

 

Because My Life Lacks Excitement

5 Jun

Actually that is sarcasm in that title, just in case you were wondering. I work in a community for folks with dementia/Alzheimer’s, trust me when I tell you we have all the excitement one can handle some days. Yesterday wasn’t lively enough I suppose so I had to make my own.

After a great shift with my work bestie I was looking forward to coming home and making my healthy dinner. Sunday I had made spaghetti squash bake and it was amazing. It makes enough for two so I had put half away for tonight and was going to have a wonderful, large salad. I had on my oldest pair of faded, falling apart jeans and a black t-shirt…my “I’m not seeing another human being not related to me” go-to outfit. I grabbed the romaine lettuce, radishes, cauliflower, the cutting board and this huge knife.

thevillan

The culprit

I’m no chef and cooking is more necessity than anything else for me, but I’m not stupid, knives are sharp. But I should never be permitted to use sharp objects without adult supervision and appropriate safety gear. I lacked both but I love living on the edge. On the first cut into the lettuce I also managed to cut into my left thumb. Through the side, through the nail and flesh and even across the nail bed. *face palm* The second I did it I dropped the knife and might have said a bad word…or two. The flesh parted like the red sea when Moses raised his staff, and for a brief second or two it was kind cool seeing how deep I’d managed to go, and then the blood.

34532886_1836243196461196_6097441405137846272_n

In the ER after the bleeding was under control

 

Oh so much blood! And more bad words. I grabbed paper towels, squeezed it and I started to say “hey mom I think I need to go to…” and realized mom isn’t here anymore. I ran down to my sister’s apartment (she is a RN). “Oh yes, that is going to need stitches” she informs me. UGH, of course it does. Tossing the salad makings in the fridge and cleaning up my self made make-believe crime scene, and off to the hospital. We have some satellite campuses now so I went to one rather than drive all the way to the big hospital.

By the time I was there most of the heavy bleeding was under control, and the flap of flesh was now laying nicely in place, but it needed cleaning. Also seems I needed to get a tetanus shot. This day just kept improving. Thankfully it was a SLOW day in the ER. I got lots of undesired attention. After a thorough cleaning…twice for good measure, the doc who had told me of using super glue on patients in Kenya, and that she doesn’t like using glue because infection cannot get out should it get infected…decided against the few stitches. Seems in my line of work, despite wearing gloves and washing my hands like I get paid extra to do so, glue was going to be the better option because it would keep things out of the wound as well. So one more very thorough cleaning, then squeezing that puppy hard for a while to remove any and all possible moisture, and she grabbed the medical glue and sealed this baby up tight. Y’all, that medical glue is a bear! At first it is pretty awesome as it is applied, and about 30-60 seconds in begins to burn like you are holding the thumb in a fire. HOLY CRAP! That thankfully only lasts about 60 seconds but then needles to numb would have hurt worse so I’m good.

After that circus I came home and ate the left over spaghetti squash bake and read a good book, hung with my sister, turned down a ridiculously low ball offer on the house (less that what we owe and 40K less that we paid for the house) and called it a day.

I’m not supposed to get this wet for 24 hours so thankfully I have a large handful of gloves and some rubber bands. I also got my shift covered at work so I’m home today. Not much pain to speak of this morning, guess that glue burned off the nerve endings because DANG!

 

Saturday Morning Coffee & A New Focus

2 Jun

Close up of cup of coffee with pink roseI put an idea out there on Facebook via video that it would be so nice to return to a time when people wrote notes, sent cards for occasions or a letter just because, rather than a Facebook post for these events.

When mom died at the end of April, my mailbox would have cards in it each day for about a week or so and it was so nice to have something to physically hold in my hand that said I was being prayed for, I was loved, thought of and cared about through that ordeal. It felt like extra support and I have pulled them out now and then when I am having a “missing her” moment to re-read those encouraging words. But like life, folks move on and the mailbox goes back to being just bills or an empty space.

I decided to stick it out there and see if I had any others who wanted to start sending each other a note, funny card, recipe, article…anything that struck a cord at the moment it was seen that one had a desire to share. But, rather than text it or post it to social media, put it in the “snail” mail! 5 people responded, and since I had suggested this in the past (like um over a year ago…) and had interest but didn’t pursue it, I grabbed 2 others from back then and started a list. I pulled out note cards, found a funny cartoon to print off, put a personal note in each and mailed them. Small start but I at least did it this time!

I’m hoping to grow this into a sort of happy-mail, mailbox ministry if you will, a way to spread sunshine and joy to others. I want it to become more personalized to each recipient but had to just get it started so I did. And this creates my Christmas card list! I’ll start asking for birthdays, anniversaries, whatever folks on my list want to share so I can make sure to get those sent out.

 

Steps Toward Healing ~ GYST

26 May

One of the things I’ve picked up on very quickly in learning how to heal from a painful loss is to LIVE. Put one foot in front of the other and MOVE. That can be difficult when you feel as if you are betraying the memory of your loved one by the fact that you are alive and they are not, but it is important.

I talked in another post about cleaning out the bedroom mom would have had and decorating it, changing it around and making it mine. She wanted me to take it to begin with so I would not have to change it later, I think she knew she wasn’t going to live here more than a few days or weeks. She didn’t even make it to 24 hours so I had to force myself to accept it was never her bedroom.

Today is another first for me, a moving forward. I cannot afford to continue buying take out even if it is something on my food plan to stay healthy. So, hoping the stove actually works I went to the grocery store yesterday and bought a spaghetti squash and some ground turkey, a can of diced tomatoes and some taco seasoning. I am making it right now. Thankfully the stove is working, by the way, and dinner is in about 20 minutes. I’m totally loving it! I LOVE cooking healthy foods, which is a big step for someone who hated cooking at all.

I also decided that it is time to start getting happy mail! As in mail that is not a bill, or political ad or whatever else is unwelcome in the mailbox. Or an empty one which can be equally depressing. I posted a live video on Facebook suggesting it is time to return to sending cards and notes, and that I was looking for others to do the same. I have 3 addresses and I’m going to begin sending notes and cards to these people at least once a month. That will ensure something fun shows up in the mailbox for them. I’d welcome anyone else who wants to do this just contact me and we can exchange addresses.

Reading is also therapeutic so I pulled out my Kindle Fire and started reading a book again. And I did a bunch of work for my health coaching business.

gystI feel good! I feel accomplished! I did not waste the day sitting around feeling sorry for myself because mom is gone. She used to let us wallow in our pity party for a while before she would tell us, “You need to get your sh*t together!” and that is now a thing everyone in the family is doing, putting #GYST in texts and snapchats to keep her memory alive and remind each other we cannot unpack and stay put we must move forward.

Love ya, mom, miss you bunches but going to make you proud!

 

What Does Grief Look Like?

25 May

My daughter posted this on her Facebook yesterday:

Grief looks like… not wanting to change your Facebook profile picture, because you feel guilty for wanting to put up something different. Grief looks like… being sad every time your toddler asks to see GiGi, but dreading the day he no longer does because it will mean he forgot her.

It spawned a few comments and got me thinking about what grief looks like is very individual and unique for each of us. We also may have some ways in which it looks the same.

So this is what grief has looked like so far for me:

  • Like my daughter, guilt for changing my Facebook profile photo from one of me and mom to one of just me.
  • Anxiety when going to the mailbox because seeing things in it for her is painful, but knowing one day all those things will stop and it will be sad because that will mean the rest of the world has forgotten her.
  • Guilt for removing her from your phone including the last texts because they are just too hard to see and weren’t sentimental or anything, just caused pain.
  • Asking my niece to remove her from the Diva Dens Life360 because when we would pull it up it says Mom is at home. But of course she is not 😦
  • In the beginning going for days without any desire to eat, in fact completely forgetting too. No appetite and no hunger but having to force yourself to eat something so you don’t drop over.
  • Guilt for packing up her things to be donated to charity, or stored if it was photos or other sentimental items rather than leaving her closet, dresser and desk just as it was before she died because that is not a benefit to anyone to leave it like a shrine. She wouldn’t want that either.
  • Sadness over the cards and notes that come at first, then sadness when they stop because others have moved on and you are still trying to figure out life without her.
  • Having something happen and wanting to share it with mom only to remember she isn’t there anymore and you have no one to share the thought with now because only she’d really appreciate the value.
  • The first time you are able to walk into the bathroom past the spot she died…and you realize later you didn’t think “this is where mom died” like you have every other time, so you feel guilty that you forgot to have that thought.
  • Avoiding the grocery store because that was where you were when you learned EMS was in route to your apartment because she collapsed and wasn’t breathing and you knew in your soul she was gone and wouldn’t “be right here” when you got back as she had said she would.
  • Finding yourself eating when you aren’t hungry now just for the comfort of chewing something because it means you are alive.
  • Freaking out because for a moment you cannot remember the sound of her voice.
  • Realizing you just drove through a red light or stop sign because you are on auto pilot in a numb funk where your heart is protected and you don’t think much so that you don’t go down memory lane.
  • Requesting and listening to the 911 call your niece made when she found mom, because you needed to know every detail available in order to start healing.
  • Reading the same page in a book 10 times and not getting a single thing to process in your brain.
  • Staring at the rug or wall for a solid hour and not even realizing it.

These are just a few of the ways grief has been visible in my life the past 4 weeks.

Contouring Made Easy With Avon

18 May

LOVE this new Avon contouring stick!

Be Marvelous With Marti

I envied the ‘look’ everyone was wearing, all contoured and beautiful. But after watching a lot of videos it was too complicated and took too long for me. I have a brief window of time to get ready for work and just didn’t have the desire for that much effort to look nice. Well Avon has made it simple, fast and inexpensive with their new contouring stick. Stop by my Avon Online Store to purchase your own contouring stick!

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Getting Through The First Of The Firsts

18 May

As nature was bursting forth with new beauty and adventure, mom left us for her new adventure in Heaven. We too were busting into a new adventure in our new apartments. And normal would be entirely new now for me, as I no longer have her here to care for each day. I miss so much having to get her things because she didn’t have the energy or strength to walk to the kitchen and twist open something to drink.

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks since mom died. As the initial shock wore off and life resumed we started piecing together time to go through her things, discard what no one would want, donate what someone might use, and figuring out which things we’d all keep to treasure her memory. Oh the finds!

The first two weeks I struggled to do required things like eat. It didn’t help that I was not at all hungry. Struggles with guilt for starting new routines that did not include her needs when I’d have given anything to have her need me! I just want normal to return but even now, 3 weeks out, normal hasn’t really settled in just yet. Still going through things, getting “her” room changed out into my room brought more guilt because it felt like erasing her from my life. I knew she was here one night, barely a guest status, before she left us, but it was hard. But on my birthday I woke up knowing this was something I needed to do, make that space mine and sprinkle mom in the form of things I kept of hers throughout. At the end of that project I felt good about it and had changed it completely from what looked like mom’s room that never really was at all. As I was carting things across the parking lot to the dumpster and back, I was circled over and over by a very beautiful butterfly like nothing I’d seen around before. It continued for a while before it landed and showed off its gorgeous wings then flew away. Call my crazy but I believe it was mom letting me know she was pleased with my moving forward.

Mom had been purging things since July when she was told she had 2 to 4 weeks to live, so there really wasn’t a lot of that we had left to do. I’m not going to lie that was awesome. She kept so much in the way of documents (birth certificates etc) and photos (all the way back to my great grandmother as a child). WOW! Going through them has been so much fun and brought back memories for all of us. And her bell collection…she loved to collect bells from places and events. Those have had an initial go-through by me and my siblings and a few of the grandchildren. There was only one that I wanted, a gorgeous crystal bell that she and I had decided she’d ring if she needed me in the night after the collapse before her death. I had feared I would not hear her if she yelled for me, and couldn’t figure out if the do not disturb feature of my phone was going to work. Fearing the worst if she fell in the night or needed me, we decided her ringing that bell would indeed pull me from my sleep with it’s beautiful, unique sound. It is now a cherished piece in my apartment.

bearI’ve known there would be firsts we’d face without her but didn’t realize just how fast the first two of those events was coming up. Mother’s Day was only 2 weeks after she left us and the idea of going through that without even a place to go ‘visit’ (we won’t have her ashes back for a long while, she donated her body) was difficult to say the least. My daughter and niece were thinking ahead and had snagged some of mom’s pajamas while we were cleaning out her room at the house. On Mother’s Day morning they arrived with breakfast from Panara Bread and memory bears made from those pajamas. Yes, tears were shed! But good ones. My sister and I were so touched by their sweet, thoughtful gifts. My niece found the poem online and printed/framed it to go with the bears. It holds a place of honor in my room and once in a while I hug it close for comfort. I miss my mom so very much, she was my best friend!

Four days after that was my birthday. My mom was there for the first 54 of them, but this would be the first I’d have to celebrate without her. We never really made a big deal of them, cake and/or ice cream and a card, but she would walk down memory lane and share about the day you were born. We’ve since discovered our crib cards and hospital bracelets among her things, just more wonderful nuggets of gold from the past she had kept safely hidden away.

Some days it is hard to just string together a complete thought or words to make a sentence. I go through the motions of life but get to the end of the day and feel like I just watched someone else doing it all. Other days I buzz through with energy and life, then feel guilty that the sun rose, I smiled and laughed and enjoyed the day that didn’t include the one person I felt most important on this planet.

Once the house sells and things settle into a new routine, I know that I will then start to feel ‘normal’, whatever that new normal will be. For now, I just push to put one foot in front of the other and not unpack my pain and live in that spot. It isn’t what she’d want and it is not good for one’s mental health.

 

 

And Like That She Was Gone

6 May

It has been a week and a day now since life as I know it changed dramatically. It has taken me this long to decide if I was even going to share the events, and how much I’d be willing to let others see and know. Originally this was far more detailed regarding the events of April 28th, but I learned several years ago that just because I needed the therapy of putting things into words does not mean they all need to be published or shared. I have edited this and opted not to share some details.

***********

Friday morning, April 27th, came with a crazy rush of final boxes being packed, movers wrapping up and carting out our possessions into a truck, unloading of said truck and cars full of those things, cable, new furniture delivery, and finally quiet settling in over the chaos. Me and mom were out of the Diva Den and into our apartment.

While waiting for the movers to load up everything, my youngest brother stopped by to give my mom communion and pray with her. He regularly did this when she could no longer attend church. It was a beautiful way to close the chapter of that great house and home, and begin a new journey.  My niece captured the moment they lifted their heads from their individual prayers at the car. Mom was already in the car waiting for my niece to take her to the apartments to wait for our life’s material odds and ends to arrive. What we didn’t know was that this was the beginning of two journeys. One for me, and another for mom.

In a previous blog post last year I had talked about life being a journey down a road with different turn offs, and as each of us reached the spot where we saw a gate with our loved one or friend’s name, we had to leave them there and continue on without them. They entered that gate, exiting the earthly path and entering the spirit realm. We all knew the gate we were approaching, but we didn’t realize that around this bend it would appear.

A week before our moving date, mom and I were sitting in the living room in our arm chairs, just talking about life, the future, how funky she had been feeling that day, how weak she was, and how nothing she could eat sounded good. She got up to get some pudding, walking into the dining room. Seconds later I heard a horrible sound of things crashing to the floor and looked up to see mom had collapsed into a heap knocking things off a side table and was against the wall. I yelled her name and was at her side, still yelling “mom, mom!” to a blank, fixed, lifeless stare. My heart skipped a beat, I thought she had passed away. And just that suddenly she blinked. While she was coming back to me I moved her off the items she had landed on and started assessing if she had been hurt. All the while she was confused and disoriented. She realized she was on the floor but had no recollection of what had just transpired. The last thing she remembered was sitting in the chair.

I got her up into a chair, took her blood pressure (it was a low 88/49) and got her some water. Once she felt okay to move I took her up to my room, put her on my bed and sent texts to my sister and brothers. I didn’t realize this was the beginning of the end, and would prepare us for what was to come.

She was horribly weak all weekend, and the nausea she has fought with for a year would not let up. Her sister Mary arrived the next morning for a scheduled visit, and her other sister, Jean, came that night to spend the night with her, and the next day while I went to work. During that time we devised methods for her to get around for what she needed without a major risk of her falling and getting hurt. At the time I was still thinking it was just fainting from weakness.

Throughout the week leading up to the move she regained her composure and felt great. Weak as a new born kitten but feeling good. My aunt came back for the day Wednesday and helped her continue to pack her things for the move. Thursday when I came home from work she said she felt better than she had in weeks. The STNA in me joked “easy mom, maybe this is the rally before the end!” I see it all the time with hospice patients, right before they die they suddenly are full of life and make you wonder if they were misdiagnosed! Hunger returns, LIFE seems to return, and then just like that they are gone.

Friday she was feeling so good other than still extremely weak. We got moved in, had pizza for lunch during the crazy flurry, and once things were settled she came up to our apartment from my sister’s (sis is one floor below me & mom). I put away as much as I had energy to do, then we all had dinner via Door Dash delivery from Chipotle to kick off the new home of the former Diva Den members. We opened a bottle of wine at the end of the evening, and mom made a toast, mentioning in it that she wouldn’t be around to write this next chapter with us. It caused a check in my gut, a hiccup in my soul, but I didn’t realize how prophetic her words were to be. Before I could drink my wine I got a text that my new bedding was delivered to the old house. To avoid it being pirated off the porch I went to get it. When I returned my sister had gone to her place with my niece, drop-over tired. Mom wanted to watch an episode of NCIS with me but I couldn’t get the Chromecast working. We sat and talked instead. I’m so glad we didn’t get to watch the TV and just enjoyed our time. Then, like every night, we hugged each other, told each other we loved each other, and went to bed.

Saturday morning while she was still asleep I started putting things away and cleaning up. She came out later, dressed and sat at the dining room table while I was putting away dishes. It was hard for her, she expressed how she hated that she was so weak and couldn’t help me. I assured her again, as so many times this past month, that I didn’t not mind at all, just keep me company. I told her one day I’d very much miss being able to take care of her and just have her there to spend time with so she should just relax. At one point she stood up and tried to push her chair in and couldn’t, she got frustrated that she was suddenly so weak not she couldn’t even move a chair in to the table anymore. I noted her speech was a tad slurred at times, but wrote it off to the blood pressure still being rather low and the lack of energy and stamina. I now think I was just in denial.

All that day something just didn’t feel ‘right’ in my universe. Something was totally off and I couldn’t put my finger on it. My cat could sense it too, though I didn’t realize it, I just assumed she was all freaked out over the move. She found a place to hide, under the bathroom sink, having pried open the door of the cabinet and refused to leave getting upset if you attempted to bring her out, so I just let her go. I should have recognized the feeling, I have had it at work, seen residents reacting to it (dementia residents are very sensitive to things in the spiritual realm around us and when death is in the building they are all a hot mess). My cat felt death and hid from it, but I still wasn’t recognizing the feeling for what it was, too preoccupied with things that I was doing.

My sister came up and said we needed to go grocery shopping, so I got a list from mom and we headed out. Mom was sitting on the couch where she has been most of the day. We would later learn from her hospice nurse friend who visited that afternoon that she could sense something was off with mom but could not put her finger on it.

In the grocery store I could not focus on the shopping, I just wanted to be at home. Little did I know that while we were shopping, all of 10 minutes after we left, mom would take some pics of the apartment, go to the bathroom, and as she was exiting the bathroom she exited this earth. No suffering, just gone in an instant. Less than 15 minutes after our departure my niece found her much like I did the day she collapsed, only this time life did not return to her beautiful eyes. She would attempt CPR, with the help of 911, the medics would also make the effort, but mom had been in heaven before she was discovered and wasn’t returning to this earth.

Mom had prepared us for the past 8 years, as she fought this damn cancer, for this day. She made sure it was all done, so we wouldn’t have too. Her words came back to me from the previous night’s toast….she really wasn’t going to be here for this chapter. She made sure we were settled in our new homes, she knew my brothers would be there to help finish cleaning out the house and sell it, but she would be in her new home in heaven. Not a single thing of her own did she unpack, she spent less than 24 hours in this apartment, a guest rather than a resident.

4 days later we had a beautiful memorial mass in mom’s honor. Even in death she was the most giving of souls, having donated her body to the UC Medical School. We’ve received word she was assigned to a student who will further their knowledge with the help of her body beginning July 1st. When finished, they will cremate her remains, return her to us, and we will bury them in the same grave as her mother. That could be weeks to a year or more.

The cat left the cabinet after the funeral home removed my mom’s body, only confirming for me her sensitivity to what we could not see.

Me? I’m wading through emotions, sailing uncharted waters without much of a clue. My faith is solid, so I spend time in God’s Word and prayer, and now anchoring in my work.  Just working through the stages of grief for now, no rushing it just riding each wave as it comes.

Mom is on her journey on the other side, experiencing the joy of Heaven and being in the presence of God.

I’m on my own journey now, learning to navigate life completely solo, something I’ve never done before.

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