I can’t even begin to debrief on the last week yet. So please excuse me if I just say the service was nice, my integrity remained intact, the music was beautiful and everything went smoothly. Yes, there were a few hiccups, but all obstacles were overcome and it was as good day. I have a portion of my mum’s ashes. My son turned six. I worked on set. I have a ton of transcription work to get done in the next two days and also a theatre workshop tomorrow.
One week. Pap test. Yeast infection. Estrogen therapy. Sisters flying in. Got a cold. Funeral service. Final visit with mum at crematorium. Booked a gig. It’s been one motherfucking week.
Did I mention my eldest sister hung up on me again? I called her to go over the order of service. She wanted her husband to be a pallbearer. I told her it would not be appropriate. That’s all I said. I’m surprised she had the nerve to bring it up. The truth is my mother detested her husband and though they may have gotten along now and then over the last 30 years, I know she would hate the idea. When I told her my husband and my other sister’s husband were going to be pallbearers, she lost it, started yelling about the 3 decent human being things he did in the past 20 years and demanded that both her son (grown man I might add) and husband would do it or none at all. That’s pretty much the position she took on the cremated remains. Which is kind of funny…and sad. I didn’t sleep much that night.
But I went to two Buddhist meetings yesterday. And I’m glad I did. My life condition was raised, I felt hope in humanity (and let’s admit it, it’s pretty hard these days with what’s going on in Paris) and best of all, I felt encouraged to not be defeated or swayed by her negativity. First, I have to chant to get over wanting to slap the spit out of her mouth. Then I will chant for her Buddha nature.
With my sister on her way back home, Boo dropped off with his cousins for an overnight visit, and a downpour of rain, we prepared to celebrate our 14th anniversary quietly and simply. We had talked about getting away overnight for weeks, but things happened, and my sister’s return flight kept changing, and so we just decided it was too sombre a mood to even attempt anything resembling romance.
We went out for dinner downtown at a favourite restaurant and then returned home. Hubby ran me a bath with eucalyptus salts, candles (!) and a big fat glass of Apothic Red. I turned on Spotify and liquidated myself in the tub. Then when I got out, hubby handed me a pre-warmed towel and ushered me to a pre-warmed spot on the couch with a roaring fire. We watched Kingsmen on Netflix which was a fun spy movie to get your mind off of things.
It was just what I needed. Funny thing about my DH and I, but in times of turmoil we pull together. Throughout all the turmoil, he has been right by my side and I knew I could count on him to have my back. It was a great feeling and I appreciate him so much.
Our family doesn’t handle anger very well, so it basically turns into resentment and silent stewing, often over things that if they were clearly communicated right from the beginning, would be alleviated. So, as I’ve said, I’m at peace with my mother’s death, but I’m not grieving in peace. Not yet.
Now that my mum is gone, my siblings want to “help” (all good intentions in wanting to honour mother) but while she was alive, it was all on me. Honestly, I was used to the load. It was easier than trying to make decisions by committee. Now it’s all different and I haven’t spent this much time on speakerphone with my sisters. I realize that this has absolutely nothing to do with me, and I’m working overtime on detachment but I’m digging into dwindling reserves of patience and understanding and I’m not sure the same courtesy is being extended to me.
When Mum had a massive stroke last week, I already knew that I would not put her on life support. I had already decided what the next steps would be and I also made it clear to both of my sisters the last time she was critically ill what was going to happen or rather what would not happen. But my sister wanted me to take her to the hospital. I did not agree but we called the ambulance. At the hospital, it was confirmed that it was a devastating stroke and that her head was full of blood. The emergency room doctor told me gently that she would not last the afternoon. I almost snorted cause we’d heard that before. But I cried anyway. I held the phone to my mother’s ear for my sisters and nieces to say goodbye. I stayed with her in a private area in the emergency room. My husband arrived and when my best friend arrived, he left to take care of our son. She went to get us sushi and I don’t know how she did it, but she brought back sake in a styrofoam miso bowl. I will love her eternally for that. Mum was admitted and spent the night in a private room and in the morning, was transferred back to the home and I sat by her side. For 2 days I played music and talked to her. The nurses told me she was receiving pain medication and something to ease her throat. Sometimes her breathing was like gasping, choking and sometimes like a light snore of one soundly asleep (respiration often takes on an abnormal pattern called Cheyne-Stokes respiration, which ranges from very shallow breaths to alternating periods of apnea and deep, rapid breathing. A friend of mine told me about this but the care staff neglected to provide me with that information) so I turned up the music for a while. I lit a scented candle because I could smell her breath. And I pretended it was just a regular visit on a regular day. I was about to leave that night without saying goodbye and before I could take 2 steps towards the door, I turned around. I kissed her and told her how much I loved her and I would see her in the morning. You know the rest. She did not regain consciousness.
My eldest sister has not called my mother or me 12 times in the last 12 years. She has not sent flowers for any of those birthdays. She does not know of my struggle to have a child, the nosebleeds, the insomnia. She doesn’t know the days my mum called me 30 times in a day, the stress, the hundreds of phonecalls the staff made to me about her violent behaviour, her health, the care conferences, the good days in the park, hanging out at the patio Starbucks, the dinners we shared, the drinks we had, the concerts we went to, the Christmases we spent together and the ones we did not. She never saw the play about the mothers. She does not know because she never asked.
I know all of us have our heavy bag of karma but I will not bear their load.
My mum always let me know that I was loved and that I could always come home. I wish that for her now. You are loved mum and you are now home.
I’ll be chanting for equanimity tomorrow. The good thing about bad times is that it allows others to demonstrate how they will stand with you.