Dear Mom (Six Months Later)

Dear Mom,

Today marks six months since you’ve been gone. Saying goodbye to you was the hardest thing I have ever done. Holding your hand and telling you horribly, hard things like it was “okay to stop fighting” and that you “don’t have to be strong anymore” still breaks my heart into a million pieces. Of course, you fought for over two hours after we took your breathing tube out. My stubborn, strong as hell (sorry for the swearing) mother. I thought being there was what I needed to do, and I certainly don’t regret making the decision to hold your hand as you passed.

We knew you wouldn’t want to live like that. They tried everything. We got multiple opinions. But we were told that you didn’t even have the ability to swallow and would be on both a feeding tube and ventilator for the rest of your life. It wasn’t easy. You know how bad my hospital anxiety is. But I showed up. I faced the hard decisions, I made those horrible phone calls and told people if they wanted to say goodbye they needed to come to see you. I got mad. I second-guessed the doctors. I broke into a million pieces again and again. I stated “I didn’t know how to live in this world without a mother”.

Thank you for writing down what you wanted, or wouldn’t have wanted if you were ever in that situation. It made it a little easier for us to truly know that you wouldn’t have wanted machines to sustain you for the rest of your life. I hope the celebration of life did you some justice, Meghan and I really fought for you on that one. Dad wanted something traditional, but we knew you would have wanted people to remember the good times. I hope I did you justice with that playlist.

We were told that we were lucky we had you for over ten years after your first stroke and that it was really only a matter of time before this happened. The doctors and nurses were surprised no one ever told us that another stroke of this caliber was bound to happen. I know they told you. And I know you didn’t want us to worry so you didn’t tell us. I’m sorry you had to bear that burden alone. I would have taken another trip with you if I had known. If only, if only I had known. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. The guilt eats me alive sometimes. I don’t even think I told you that I loved you the last time I spoke on the phone. I was in a rush to eat dinner, and I wish I could go back and fix that.

But life goes on, or I suppose it has. But not really for me, I’m so stuck. And lost. And sad. I almost dropped out of the last term of grad school because of everything that was going on. I knew you wouldn’t want me to, so I kept going. I held onto that 4.0. I graduated top of my class. I cried every day.

I saw a grief counselor earlier this week. I hope she can help. I’m so stuck, I can’t move on. I have newly developed social anxiety. People avoid me or don’t know what to say. I feel so alone. It’s hard to talk about you, but I need to talk about you. I don’t want to live like this, there has to be some kind of middle ground. I know you wouldn’t want me to be unhappy, so I’m trying. I miss you. I still pick up the phone to call you and at times think “Oh I have to call Mom later and tell her about this”. When I come to the realization that I can’t anymore, it breaks me. You weren’t perfect, but you were the best mother I could have ever had.

Thank you for being my mother.
Thank you for doing everything you could to make sure we had fulfilling lives.
Thank you for encouraging me to travel, to study abroad, and to do things my way.
Thank you for paying for college and helping with the downpayment of my home.
Thank you for always being selfless, giving, and charitable.
Thank you for being my mother.

Love you forever and a day,
Jill

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