“I didn’t have the relationship I wish I did with my mom. I am the baby, and from the time I was born to this day I am a daddy’s girl. My relationship with my mom, I don’t really even know how to describe. My mom was a nurse. And to be honest, a d*mn good one. I know a lot of nurses and I am not sure I have seen anyone quite like my mom. I can vividly remember her calling patients on her days off to see how they were doing, if they got their meds. She was always following through. My mom was the most welcoming person I have ever met. She opened her heart and her home to people she just met. She could have been a chef. Seven years after her death, people still rave about her cooking. If I brought friends over at any time, day or night, she would offer them food. Even if she had to cook it. My mother was a good person. But no person is without flaws.
I remember when my grandpa died, my mom’s father, she found him. We showed up after the paramedics. It was right after Christmas. Something died inside my mother that day—in my mind, her world shifted forever. I remember coming home one afternoon, I was probably in high school, and my mom was crying. She said she missed her parents and wanted to be with them again. That was the day I realized my mom might be depressed. I don’t know why I was the way I was with my mom. Mostly, I think I just didn’t understand her. My mom liked to have fun. She liked to drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and she liked to gamble. I remember her drinking getting worse after my grandpa passed.
I remember coming home from a vacation with a friend to find my family fighting, wanting my mom to go to rehab but she didn’t want to. As I got older I felt ashamed of her, angry with her. She was letting her addictions take over. I remember my mom wanting to take a picture of me one day on my first day of my first job. I was so irritated, they are not nice pictures. During my senior year, we did mother daughter-bowling. I wouldn’t even take a picture with her because she had to go upstairs and smoke. I felt embarrassed, I didn’t want a picture to remind me. She wasn’t like other people’s moms. I got teased constantly for smelling like smoke, which was from my mom.
Growing up, my mom would drill into us not to smoke or do drugs. If we didn’t, we would get a certain amount of money for graduation. I withheld—smoking and drugs was never something that sparked my interest, anyway. After I graduated, I walked in on my mom and her friends smoking weed. I was infuriated. I packed up my stuff and left that day. I ignored her calls for days. Her best friend told me I shouldn’t be mad because she is an adult and can make her own decisions. But I couldn’t see past the hypocrisy. Maybe if she would have been open and honest, I wouldn’t have been so mad. Some time while I was 18, my dad went on a trip to Canada for hunting or fishing. While he was gone, my mom kicked me out.
I stayed with friends for a week until my dad came home. My mom still called me almost every night asking when I’d be home. I’d remind her she kicked me out and I would come home when dad did. My parents have always had my best interest, I won’t deny that. They purchased the house I moved into after I graduated and I paid my rent to them. After that, my mom would occasionally call and ask to go to lunch and maybe do some shopping. I regret not going. My mom was always wanting me in something nicer and would ask if I liked certain modulars to replace my trailer. I always passed. I was at an age where if my mom told me not to do something, I just tried to prove her wrong. Every kid goes through it.
2012 was a hard year for me. Early in the year I experienced a miscarriage, and I had to have a D&C. Surgery went well—my mom and sister stopped by to see me before she went to work. I was healing quickly, or so I thought. I had low fevers, but higher than what they want to see after a surgery. It started as 100.5, not too serious, but I was concerned. I talked to my sister she told me to alternate Tylenol and ibuprofen. Then I noticed my chest had a rash. I sent her a picture, it went from my neck to below my bra. She talked to the ER doctor and I was told to get to an ER immediately. After many tests and a quickly spreading rash, I was found to have retained placenta and was in the early stages of septic shock. I needed an emergency D&C. The entire experience was so hard for me to process.
I was billed for both procedures. I was angry at the world. I took my anger out on my mom. She even called me on it. She told me she knew I was angry about what happened, and if I need to take my anger out on her it was okay. Later that fall, my mom told me if I went to college, for anything I wanted, she would go back to work full-time and pay for it. I was interested in it, but never found something to go to school for. My mom helped me arrange to have surgery on my hand to remove a cyst. About a week before surgery, I experienced yet another miscarriage. This time no D&C, had to pass naturally. That same year I was supposed to spend Thanksgiving with my family all day, but unfortunately one of my staff members showed up drunk and I spent 13 hours at work. I was and am still SO incredibly angry I missed one of the last holidays with my mom. We did celebrate Christmas together, but I don’t think I spent much time with them.
I stopped by my parents house on New Year’s Eve and spoke briefly to my mom. I looked her straight in the face and I knew something was wrong. Her face was so thin. I called my sister and demanded she tell me what was going on, and she said I had to talk to my mother. So, a couple days later, my dad was over fixing my furnace and my mom called. She told me they thought her liver was failing. My response: ‘Well, you did that to yourself. What would you expect?’ I had so much resentment because of her drinking, so much anger. They did a biopsy and found her liver was actually healthy and not failing. Some time later, possibly as early as January, my mom asked me if I was pregnant. I was, but didn’t want anyone to know yet, so I lied and said no.
My mom was still working at the hospital, so I am sure she knew the truth. At some point I had admitted to my mom I was in fact pregnant, and had a doctor’s appointment on February 5th, and I would love for her to come. She was so excited. On January 30, 2013, my mom had an exploratory diagnostic surgery in Billings. Afterward, they traveled home back to Sidney, only to find themselves in the ER. They gave her fluids and sent her home. My mom insisted she didn’t want to die at the hospital. On Saturday she was back in the ER, and it was at this point we made the decision to sign a DNR and be sent home with hospice. My mother was very ill and we were under strict instructions not to tell anyone. My mom was not often lucid in her last days. She was uncomfortable and often confused. But she never told anyone about me being pregnant, and still believed she would make it to my appointment. Today, this still shocks me. My mom passed away from stomach cancer five days after being diagnosed, on February 4, 2013.
Stage one—denial and isolation. I got tons of messages. I ignored so many of them. I knew what had happened, but it didn’t really sink in that it was a permanent reality. Stage two—anger. I still feel this. I am angry she probably could have been diagnosed sooner if she wasn’t a nurse. I am angry the doctors only focused on her lifestyle, instead of her symptoms. I am angry she died when she didn’t deserve it. I’m angry my children will never get to know her, be held by her, be loved by her. I am angry I didn’t have a better relationship with her. Stage three—bargaining. This one is tricky. For me, it’s been: why my mom? Why not some one who ‘deserves’ it—a rapist or murderer? And then the hard one…did my pregnancy survive because I lost my mom? I suppose that’s really just me trying to blame myself. Stage four—depression. This one comes in waves. Some days it hits me hard, others I stay afloat.
Stage five—acceptance. I don’t know if it’s the right word for me. I guess I have accepted this is my new normal. But I don’t really have a choice. Losing my mom sucks. I get angry about it a lot. I get angry with myself for not taking advantage of the time I had. I get angry at other people for not having a good relationships with their parents. I hate how alcohol affected my relationship with my mom. I had so much resentment because of the alcohol. I am forever missing a piece of my heart, and my heart will never be the same. My mom was a good person, she always put others first. She loved her family. She loved me. I wish things were different. I wish I had a happier ending. I wish I didn’t have to see my mother dying. I can’t change anything. I have to live with it. And it kills me. It kills me a little bit every day.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Sally Selensky. Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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