In some ways time both stopped and sped up in the early morning hours of Nov. 26, 2016.
My mom, Doris Manion, had just passed.
And my head was filled with more questions than answers and with more feelings than ways of coping with them.
There was loss of course. And it was a pronounced sense of loss.
My mom had been ill for sometime. And her disease was not defeatable.
She had struggled to maintain some normalcy in her life and to make sense of the world around her. That’s always the case with Alzheimer's Disease.
And so in a sense, the moment of my loss was the moment in which she was released from suffering.
It was a moment, also, that was anticipated. But that didn’t remove the sting of course.
That morning was not my first in dealing with loss.
My father passed away in 2002, followed by my eldest sister a year later and my brother in 2012.
My wife’s mom passed away just days before my sister.
That all seems like lots of experience. And it none of it did me a bit of good in the moments after my mom left this world.
The overwhelming sense of, “what do I do now?” is hardest to deal with.
I spoke with my mom nearly everyday by phone. And even when we didn’t talk, there was a sense of comfort in knowing she was there.
If something ever got really, really bad, I could always call her, and, if nothing else, she would sit and listen to me talk it out for myself.
As her disease process went along, of course, I didn’t really talk to her as I once had, but the idea of having her there, within a phone call, was still a real comfort to me.
I guess that’s what parents do best. From the moments that we are old enough to realize their impact in our lives, they act as that fail safe.
When you need someone to talk to and feel you can trust no one else, you trust your parents.
That sense of security is rare in this world. It can’t be bought and it can’t be created anywhere else.
So, it leaves you with a sense of owing a debt to someone that can never be paid.
That leads me right to the next overwhelming emotion—guilt.
You question everything you’ve done. Why didn’t you spend more time with your loved one? Why didn’t you do more for them when you could?
These questions, I have come to realize, never have satisfactory answers.
And that’s all part of the process.
Outside of being directionless and guilty, the other feeling that I had was the desperation to remember things as they had once been.
I needed to hear my mom’s voice inside my own head. I needed to live out the memories that I have collected.
In short, I wanted my life to become like a television show.
You know those retrospectives on your favorite TV series where a character remembers the past and the memory plays out in a clip from earlier in the series.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we all could watch movies of the memories we have.
We would still have that connection.
In the days since my mom’s funeral, I have hoped to dream of her. I have went to bed with her on my mind, and, thus far, I have waken disappointed.
I will continue to do this. And I know the emotions I mentioned, and many more that I haven’t, will continue to dominate my thinking.
As I walk through the day, my mind traces back to different scenes from years gone by in quite a random fashion.
I know these memories are with me and will be with me going forward, but I regret that I don’t have more of them and can’t make more of them.
I guess the only comfort I find is that, in the moments my mom and I had together, we always took advantage of every one. We visited. We lived. We enjoyed each other’s company.
I miss her now. I always will, but at least I know that the none of the moments we had were wasted.
As the Christmas season approaches, my mom’s favorite time of year, I hope we all can take advantage of every moment. Thanks for reading.