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Sunday, April 01, 2007

Getting through the near term.

I've been hesitating on whether or not to post on this but while I have a precious few moments to myself it occurred to me that many of my friends who won't be hearing from me read my blog and need to know what has happened. I also have many e-mails that will go unanswered so it's just more efficient to point people to the blog (instead of having people think I'm ignoring them).

Last Friday, about twenty minutes after seeing a show in the city I got a call. A friend of my mother's told me that my mother was found in her apartment without a pulse with multiple head traumas and was being flown via helicopter to a neurological center. Five minutes later, the ICU Doctor called to inform me that my mother had bleeding on the brain, suffered an inoperable hematoma and was brain dead--and may make it 12-24 hours more. He had to be quick because he needed quick answers.

Since mom is single, her two daughters are the only ones that doctors can legally speak with and I needed to get to Alabama from New York City as soon as possible if I wanted to see her alive...but that I would need to immediately make the decision whether or not to resuscitate her should she flat-line while I was en route.

From that moment it was a mad dash across three planes and just working to keep my sanity so as to be there for my mom. I won't go deep into the devastation I feel. Mom officially passed right after midnight on Sunday. But mom was gone well before they stopped the life support.

From what we can piece together it appears that she fell forward and hit her head on some furniture and then got up--but still dizzy from the fall--and fell backwards, hitting the area next to her brain stem. She lives alone so some of her friends who had plans with her that day became worried and, finally, after several hours urged the police to break in.

The doctors warned me how bad a shape she was in and how badly she looked due to her head injuries and all the tubes. But I didn't truly understand until I sat with her. The thing is, the injuries didn't affect me so much as how "vacant" she was. For those of you who know me, I'm a real momma's girl. Sure, she gave me life. But it's mom who gave me my personality, energy and my positive nature. Point is, my mom is anything but vacant.

Dealing with such a sudden death is really two-fold; the overwhelming grief that drains any of your energy coupled with the overwhelming number of items you need to get done that require SO MUCH energy like planning a funeral, filing death certificates, writing eulogies, writing obituaries, contacting zillions of people, packing up a house and settling an estate.

While I've cried more than I thought humanly possible in 48 hours, I don't think I'll be able to start processing this devastation until I'm freed of all these things people keep throwing my way to handle. It will never be will never be right that she fell twice (she would be here if she only fell once) and it will never be right that she left me 30 years too early--she was only 64, the women in my family have a history of living well into our 90s.

I need to thank the many good friends that have made it possible for me to still be breathing...the strangers on planes who were so kind to me while I wept uncontrollably...my mother's community here who have been like family...and all of you who are so good to me all the time. I'm not sure when I'll be back at home, back to work or back to blogging. I really have only two goals: to honor my mother and to get through the near-term.

Update (04.07.07): The way we honored my magnificent momma is right here. My sister and I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of emotion...you have humbled and lifted us. I will get back to everyone to honor each of you, too. Please just be patient with me.

Update (04.10.07): The way that YOU fine folks honored  my great mom through a charity initiative is right here.

Update (04.12.07): A book I've found helpful in understanding and dealing with grief is detailed right here.

Update (04.16.07): The most healing grieving practice I've found--and the greatest legacy from my mom--is right here.

Update (04.28.07): What I've gained (well, what I've lost) through this experience is right here.

Update (05.11.07): To see my Mother's Day dedication (and many wonderful pics and stories): go right here.

Update (05.26.07): To see the "momma tree" that bloggers dedicated and planted in NYC just go here (AMAZING act of kindness!).

Comments

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CK --

I don't have the words to tell you how sorry I am. I remember talking about your mom at dinner and enjoying the glint in your eye as you spoke of her spirit and influence.

24/7 -- if you need anything, I am a phone call away.

Prayers, hugs and shared tears headed right to you!

Drew

I really have no idea what to say. I can't imagine what you're growing through, but know that you are loved, and if you need anything, absolutely anything, I'm here.

Devastated for you.
If there is anything you need, you know where I am.

CK -- Whatever you need, whenever you need it, I am there for you. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

CK,

I'm losing it over here after reading about this. I'm in shock. I feel for you so much! I can't believe this. I'm ... so sorry.

My God. I can remember you talking about your Mom not only through your writings but when we met in person.

Please, if I can do anything...

I'm so sorry.

You're honoring your mother right now by showing us what a wonderful daughter she raised to be thinking about her friends right now, and making sure they know what has happened. We'll all be here for you to lean on in the near AND long-term. See you soon, you and your family remain in my thoughts and prayers.

Oh Sweetheart, I'm so sorry.
You've been so generous with stories of your mother, her sprirt and sass- you honor her everyday.
Even though I'm half the world away, please know I'm thinking of you with love and support.
Big Hugs
Shouty

CK,

I just can't believe what I'm reading...I'm so sorry...

If there's anything I could help with, please don't hesitate to let me know.

You and your family are very much in my thoughts and prayers.

CK,
I am so sorry. Sending an email.
Marianne

Christina,
Hope you get through this difficult period okay.

ck, you are in my thoughts. even if i'm so far, please feel free to ask for anything.
do not hesitate to call, write, whatever you may need.
a big big hug,g.

As you can see from all the above and what I'm sure follows, you have many friends all over the globe who love and respect you and are sending their good wishes and their strength.

You are a special person, Christina, and your Mom is proud of her little girl.

love, David

I am so sorry to hear this news, C.K. You have the thoughts and prayers of my entire family.

CK,

All my love and prayers are with you and your sister. Having just gone through this I understand how much sadness and pressure you are experiencing. Of course, like all your friends, I am here for you.

Love,
Lewis

Dear CK,
I am so sorry for you and your family. We've talked about how both our Mom's were the glue that held us together, the one's who inspired us, the one's who loved us always, without condition. My heart aches that you are going through this.
I know when my Mom passed suddenly at 64 I also felt cheated, and devastated. All I could hang onto was the fact that we had a great great relationship for those many years and that we had true love for each other. That we had so many laughs together...And that will never go away. I am sure you've made her very proud and that is a wonderful thing for you to remember. As always I am here if you need anything. My prayers are with you, your sister and your Mom and all who care for you.
Sincerely, Keith

I am so heartened to see the outpouring of support and love for you here, and so glad that your Mom's community there is embracing you and your sister, too. Like many of us, I've been where you are a few more time that I'd wish... and... it sucks. There's no way around it -- only through it. Lean on us.

God Bless your family. I am so sorry for your loss. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help you.

You and your mom are in our prayers.
Cheryl, Roger and Spencer

CK,
I am so... so deeply shocked by what just happened. So sorry. So so sorry. For the very first time I feel the distance (of being here in Europe) as an injustice.

I join your friends to tell you I'm here, for you if I can do something... just anything CK.

I send you, your sister and your family all my prayers and love.

Luc.

Dear Christina: I am a regular reader of your blog, and want to tell you I'm very sorry for your loss.

I hope that you listen to your friends, as well as to trusted medical professionals, and come to your own conclusions as to how you deal with the emotions you are feeling right now.

Grief is powerful, and shouldn't be hidden by drugs. That being said, it can also lead to clinical depression, and drug therapy can be an effective treatment for that.

Follow your heart. Listen to the people who love you, and do what you think is best for you.

There are many people who know you in the old-fashioned way and in the virtual way who are thinking of you right now, and are sending their hopes and wishes to you to, hopefully, help you get through this painful time. And I'm one of them.

I love you

I'm very sorry to hear about this. Hang in there!

CK,

I can't even think of a place to begin. I am so hurt for you- I know what "momma" meant to you and how close the two of you have been. I think of my own mother, as many of us must be doing, and I am so saddened by your loss.

Dear friend, please know that we are all here for you in whatever way we can be. I don't know what to say, I really don't. Just know that you have the support and love of so many people.

I feel terribly ineffective in trying to help you through this- just know that you, your momma and your family are all in my thoughts, my heart and my prayers.

"I really have only two goals: to honor my mother and to get through the near-term."

Although it doesn't feel like it, this very sage wisdom will ensure the long-term takes care of itself. God bless you and your family, CK, during this difficult time and afterwards.

I am at a loss for words. You obviously have a deep affection for your mother, and that says more about her quality and character than I could ever hope to add.

But I will say this: You have helped establish something more than a loose network of virtual acquaintances. Your warmth and sharing have helped nurture a vibrant community that you can now count on when you need it.

And for what it's worth, I'm certain your upbringing had more than a little to do with that. So in that way, we can honor and cherish her with you. We certainly have cause to be grateful to her -- for you.

So very, very sorry, CK. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

Oh my, CK. My prayers are with you and your family right now. This is so tragic I can't begin to imagine what you're going through. God's blessings on you and yours.

CK:

I am honored to be among such friends and community -- yours. You have my mobile number. It's on 24/7. Call if you need someone to listen, or just someone on the other end of a life line. I'm pretty good at both. And I promise a loving and warm welcome, always.

Although I'm sure I can never really feel what you felt and are feeling, I have a very special bond with my mother too. The thought of something happen to mom chills me to my core, especially since we're so far.

Thoughts and prayers your way.

CK- I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. No one should have to go through such a tramatic experience and I am sorry that you had to. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers. Joanie & Gary and the kids

Oh, CK. I'm so sorry. I'm thinking of you and your sister and send you both tons of love and want to give you a big hug. Please let me know if I can help in any way. Love, CB

ck: our thoughts and prayers are with you & your family -- will talk soon.

Hi CK. I’ve been thinking about you all day today. I don’t know what to say. I wish I could do or say something to make a difference. If there’s anything that would help, please let me know.

I’m very close to my mom too. I appreciated your supportive words earlier this year when she was facing some health issues. I can't imagine anything tougher than what you're going through. My best wishes to you and your sister.

CK,

So sorry to read this... you're definitely in my thoughts and prayers. And your post was amazing... the fact that you can see so clearly so soon afterwards really is a feat of strength.

CK - Please accept my heartfelt sadness and condolences. We keep you close in thought and prayer. Do not hesitate asking for anything.
Bob

"to honor my mother"

I only came here because of MasiGuy's post. When I saw the topic I headed over.

I would have read your post and left it at that. I don't know you and I haven't read any of your other posts. But when you said you had two goals, and that the non-obvious one was to honor your mom, I felt compelled to comment.

I too lost my mom, in 2003, but my farewell took place over a much longer period of time. Unfortunately she suffered greatly and at the end she admitted to me she had never suffered so much. As a girl raised during World War 2 and having lost half her family at Hiroshima, that was quite a statement to make.

And like you, I also wanted to honor my mom. I actually told her I would. I promised her two things shortly before she passed away.

I race bicycles for fun and I promised her I'd win two races for her. I fiercely chased those promises for the next three years. I wasn't obsessive about it but I was highly motivated when it came to the races.

After a few years of trying, I finally won both those events. Incredibly, I managed to get both races on tape - one my brother taped and the other I taped myself.

I told my family shortly after I won the second event of the promise I made our mom. I posted the clips in my blog under the label "mom".

I still cry when I watch them.

Your post shows your perseverance and a fortitude that perhaps some would not have. I admire your strength and your ability to deal with the details of handling your mom's passing (I was responsible for that too).

You obviously have great support here. It's a tribute to you as a person, and you're very fortunate to have everyone with you.

I have no idea who you are but I am sure that you will honor your mom. I just know it. Through all the good times and whatever bad times, she must have loved you greatly. She must have been very proud of you.

Aki

Christina, I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. The shock of it must be devestating. My mother-in-law passed last December and I understand the hole that's left when somebody close moves on from this life.

CK,

I am so very sorry for the loss of your mother, and I greatly respect you for the honor and love you are showing her. Your community, your loyal readers and friends, are standing beside you, whether or not you can see or touch us. I saw this poem and thought of the love I have seen here in your community:

I cannot carry this burden alone, the road is too steep and the pain too great.
I shall only get to the top of the hill if I am able to lean on a firm shoulder
whose strength lies in the reality of the feet which bear its weight.

CK, your community is here to help you carry this burden in any way we can. And although I have not met you, I count myself in that community. You and your family are in my prayers.

oh no. I can't believe what i just read. pls take care of what you need to and i'll call you asap. my prayers are w/ you and your family.

"When facing death be calm. I do not want you to have the cold stoicism of a pagan, but the fervor of a child of God who knows that life is changed, not taken away. For to die is to live."

- St. Jose Maria Escriva

May God bless you and your family.

God Bless you my friend. You have told me a lot about your mom and well, all we can trust is the fact that she is needed in a higher place-because of her "goodness" and what she has given to you and those on this great earth. She is now your angel and you will now soar to even great heights my dear. God Bless you and sister.

Love
LPB

CK,
I am so sorry to hear about this. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.

I'm so sorry. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with you and your sister. Your momma sounds like a very special person.

christina, i am so terribly sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. please know she's at peace and she will be with you always. if you ever need to talk, call me. i'm so glad you celebrated her life with such warmth and support from those who all loved her too.
love, denise

CK, So sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you. If there is anything I can do, please let me know. Dennis

CK, please accept my sincerest condolences on your mother's sudden passing. As we say in my tradition...may her memory be a blessing.

I am so sorry about your loss. Your relationship with your mom is forever. Thanks for sharing this.

I'm very sorry, CK. I can't imagine. I'm thinking about you.

I was glad to find your words today. I lost my mother 7 weeks ago very suddenly to a tragic bacterial infection. You spoke of the second fall..I speak of not getting her to the hospital on time. I have never felt such a loss, as you said- she gave you personality. A part of my life does not work without her. The conversations, the late night shopping, the cups of tea over a good game of upwords. I look in the mirror and I see her, we looked alike. I miss her so badly...it hurts..

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