Sunday, March 22, 2015

Four Years

My mom passed away four years ago today.

Every year I start to feel the pressure of the day creeping towards me, closer and closer like a dense, rolling fog, until the day is upon me, and I can't breath or function properly. I can't think of anything beyond the minute by minute details that engulf me each year on this day. It is like a movie that runs right behind my eyelids, distracting me from what is actually happening around me, forcing me to relive the day once again.  

It was and still is the most horrible day that I have ever experienced. 
And that says a lot because I once had a day where I had started bleeding after I had just completed a round of IVF, but that day wasn't so bad because it was also the day that Blake and I found out that we were having twins.

I had gone to school that morning. I was five months pregnant with Samantha and Easton, and I was teaching kindergarten. I was happy and tired. Blake and I had just come home from Fort Worth the weekend before where Blake's mom, dad, and the entire neighborhood had celebrated the twins with us with a wonderful baby shower that my family had driven from Oklahoma City to be a part of. We had a great time. My mom and sister, Kelsey, had bought the most precious socks from BabyGap and a yellow sweater for Samantha from Ralph Lauren Polo.
I still have those socks and that sweater.
It was a Tuesday. 
I had told my mom that I was going to call her on Monday, but I didn't. I did what I did every night... I fell asleep on the couch until Blake woke me up and we went to bed. 

Early into the school day, the school's principal, Helen, walked to my classroom door with the Spanish teacher, Julie. Helen wanted Julie to watch my class while I went with her to the school office. 
I thought I was in trouble. I racked my brain trying to think about all of the things that I might have done or forgotten to do that I would be in trouble for. 
She led me to her office where I walked in to see Blake standing in front of her desk. At first I had been happy to see him, but I felt a distinct terror when I saw the look on his face. 

The first thought that flew into my head was of my brother, Jonathan. I don't know why. I almost asked Blake, "What happened to Jonathan?", but I couldn't bring myself to say that. All I asked was, "What's wrong?".

"Your mom passed away this morning." And I started to cry. 

She couldn't have died. I was supposed to call her last night, and I didn't. I was going to call her tonight.  
She couldn't have died. She went to bed on Friday night and when the babies started kicking, I didn't wake her up to feel them. She never got to feel them kicking.  
She couldn't have died. She wasn't old. She had beaten cancer's ass for years and years... Almost twenty years. She had gotten cancer when she was so young. 
She couldn't have died. I wasn't ready for her to be gone. 

Blake drove me home, packed my bag, and put me back in the car. 
We were in the car for a few hours before I even thought about Kelsey. When Blake explained to me what my little sister had to do that morning upon finding our mom, my heart cracked into two pieces. I can't even begin to describe the pain that I physically felt at that moment and for the remaining car ride to Oklahoma. 

This was too horrible. This was all too much for me to handle. It was too much for Kelsey and too much for Jonathan. It was too much hurt and shock and raw pain to handle. But... Somehow we made it through that day and the next day and the next day. We all slept at Jonathan's house because we couldn't bear to not be together under the same roof during the planning and the prepping and the storm of activity that follows when someone dies. 
We found that God had given us a bit of time to be together masked by a pastor retreat at our church. Without a pastor, we couldn't have a funeral, so we had to wait for the retreat to end. I woke up early to complete lesson plans for the substitute back at school and to write the dozens upon dozens of thank you cards to the people who sent kindness and comforts in all forms. We watched movies at night and stayed close throughout each day.

At my mother's funeral, I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I sat in the first row, held Blake's hand. I cried when I saw that Kristin had driven all the way from Houston to be there for me. Shaking hands with people and trying to remember that this wasn't a happy, "good to see you" reunion was awkward and uncomfortable. Everything felt wrong.  

She couldn't have died.

She died...
...Four years ago today, and it was a horrible, horrible day. 

This day doesn't define who she was or what she did in her life, which, I think, is why this day is so hard. The horrible memories of that day come to the forefront of your mind, and those memories temporarily cloud all the happiness and the joy that normally surrounds you. 
When you think of her you just think about how she's not there. You think about how she's not getting to hug her three (soon to be four) grandchildren. You think about all the things that she is missing. 

When you think of her you don't think about how her hair was so big you could find her at the store by the height of her massive curls. You don't think about how you would sneak into her bed as a child, and you knew she was asleep if you could hear that quiet clicking in the back of her throat. You don't think about her manic rush to get to the beach before everyone else was awake just so she could claim the best spot on the sand.

These are the memories that I want to have, not the memories of March 23rd four years ago. I know that as horrible as this day was, it does not have to define what I know about my mother. She was so much more than her death and her battle with cancer. All I need is to wait for tomorrow. 

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