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!).