...They say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For I know you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our path for a while
Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the girl who has loved you so true.
-Red River Valley, traditional folk song
This post has been rolling around in my head (and my slowly-breaking heart) for a while now. Not a bit easier to write than it was to let it swirl through my jumbled mind.
My mom is dying. We have all known this for a many months, but I could know it for a hundred years and not be ready.
Most of you who know me in real life know that mom was placed under Hospice care in January. While that was an incredibly difficult step, it's just so hard watching as she continues to get weaker and weaker. She is so tired - so tired of the fight, so tired of keeping up the positive outlook, so physically tired. Seeing her go through this is the hardest thing I've ever done. And honestly, I've seen a lifetime's worth of hard things in the last 5 years. I've seen my son go through two open heart surgeries and watched as he spent a week on life support. I've said goodbye to my home and everyone I knew to move across the country. I've lost the grandparents who shaped my life and my faith, my understanding of what family means. And still, preparing to lose my mom is harder for me.
I am afraid to try and explain how close my mom and I have been because words can't do justice to our amazingly special relationship. She has taught me how to get through those hard times and has held my hand on the toughest days. She's given me the "suck it up" speech when I needed it and been patient and understanding when I needed that. We've shared work life and silly inside jokes. We've shared a love for writing and a hard core shoe-shopping addiction. I cannot imagine the future without her here with us. With me.
This week has been full of the highest emotional highs and the lowest of lows. Derek and I both had the biggest events of our respective careers on back to back days, and now coming back to earth is proving difficult. I'll share the highs soon - it's good stuff! - but right now I am feeling pretty beaten down by life, worn out from the roller coaster. I am so glad she was able to hear about Derek finishing his PhD and my successful graduation gala with some of the most influential people at the University. She is incredibly proud of each of our successes. I want to focus on gratitude for her being here to experience these things, but it's tempered with disappointment that she is so weary she can hardly stay awake to hear about them.
This is not how I had planned my life to be, and I am still waiting to wake up and have things the way I envisioned them.
Last summer she made me promise that I would not dwell in sadness but would be grateful for the closeness we have shared and the incredible blessing we have had in an amazing mother-daughter relationship. I totally lied. (Sorry, Mama!) Tonight, I'm having a hard time with the whole grateful business because I'm too busy being brokenhearted.
I love you the best, Mom. I am not ready to say goodbye. I don't know when that goodbye is going to be - but even if it's a year from now, I will not be ready.