As I was driving to Vancouver last week, I felt something weighing on my mind. Something big was coming, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. You know, that feeling when you think you’ve forgotten something very important, but just can’t quite remember what it is. As I crossed the Port Mann bridge on the way to my cousin Debbie’s place, it donned on me. The 20th (yes, today) is the 10th anniversary of my mom’s untimely death. I’m not sure if I’ve spoken of it on my blog before, but yes, 10 years have passed since that fateful day when my stepdad phoned me to inform me that my mom had passed away suddenly. She’d had a terrible migraine headache that day, so he’d given her a shot of Demerol in the a.m. before he left for work. She must have woken up sometime mid morning and thought it was much later than it was because she took a migraine pill and, since there was still Demerol in her system, the two counteracted with each other and stopped her heart. She dropped dead on the kitchen floor at approximately 9:30 a.m. (only 15 minutes after I’d phoned and checked on her to see how she was feeling). Her neighbor went to check on her in the afternoon and found her, lying peacefully with her cheek against the cool, smoothe, black and white checkered tiles, as though she were sleeping. All the worry and stress and pain of her horrendous migraines had been erased from her face, leaving in their place, the smooth, beautiful face of her youth and the promise that the other side really is as wonderful as death survivors claim it is.
Ten years goes by in the blink of an eye. Well, maybe two or three blinks.
I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s yesterday and noticed this picture of my mom on top of one of their speakers. I don’t have this picture of her, so I snapped a quick photo of it. I’m not sure how old she is in the pic, but I suspect she is around 35 (close to the age I am right now and only 10 or so years before she died).
This picture makes me smile. It captures everything about mom. Her beauty. The mischevious twinkle in her eyes and the passionate fervor that ruled the way she lived her life. When you have migraine headaches that knock you on your butt for a week to ten days at a time, you live your life to the fullest every chance you get.
Her laughter was contagious and I sometimes imitate it, just so we can have a good laugh remembering how funny it was. Especially when she laughed so hard that she followed up the laughter with snorting. She laughed, loved, yelled at us when we pissed her off, praised us when she was proud, stood up for her beliefs, grieved for our hurts and rejoiced with our triumphs, all at the speed of life.
She was one fantastic mom and, although I hide it really well most of the time and although I know she’s here with me, in my memories, I really, really miss her. There’s no one else in the world that can soothe my hurts or make me feel as good about myself as my mom did. She was my #1 fan, my biggest cheerleader, and the only one who could tell me to pull my head out of my butt when I was being ridiculous (without getting my back up). There are days when I feel absolutely lost without her laughter and her wisdom to guide me and there are others, like my wedding day, when my heart aches because she’s missing the important moments. But most of all, I just miss her presence. The smell of her. The feel of her hugs. The taste of her cooking – especially her cooking (mmmm, mmmm, mmmm…) – and her energy and beauty.
I don’t think I need to tell any of you how important it is to love fiercely, forgive quickly or let the past go, but I do recommend filming or recording your loved ones when they are laughing. Nothing heals a grieving heart like the sound of laughter and, if you can hear the laughter of someone you’ve lost, all the better.
“Happy” anniversary mamakins. I love you and miss you so much.