Thursday, January 17, 2013

This Is How It Happened

I just realized it's been 24 hours since Mother died and I haven't had a moment until now to sit down although I've been checking my comments all day long and if I don't have the sweetest and best community in the world here, I don't know who does.
Thank you all. I mean it. You've all given me something in your own way that I have taken to my heart and cherished. God damn. I mean it.
Sorry. I seem to have become incredibly profane in the last 24 hours and perhaps that's because my mother is dead so who cares?

You'll have to forgive me. I'm somewhat exhausted and as you know if you've gone through a death, the mind gets a bit...spacey.

What happened was that yesterday Mother was actually in PT and collapsed. She was not responsive and had only a very thready, weak pulse. Now my mother, as we all know, has been begging and demanding to die for quite some time and she has been adamantly vocal about not being coded or resuscitated in just such an event and both of the charge nurses at the Assisted Living and I had discussed this issue IN DEPTH and yet, somehow, Mother's cherished DNR form was not with the rest of her papers in the health center but were still somewhere in another building and so legally, of course, they had to call a code which they did and the ambulance was called and they did all the fancy stuff, meanwhile calling me to tell me what was going on.
You with me?
They're coding my mother and there's not one damn thing I can do about it and so Mr. Moon and I raced to the hospital and before we got there I spoke to the ER charge nurse and gave her the story and she said to get there as soon as possible because as soon as I could vocally tell them to stop, they would.
And they did.
And they pulled all the tubes and unhooked all the monitors and we went in and it was quite obvious that my mother was essentially dead (once you've seen death's mask you will recognize it anywhere) even though she was breathing.
I'd called Chuck, my brother who lives in town, and he was on his way so I held my mother's hand and stroked her hair and I told her that she'd done a good job, I was proud of her and I listed the names of all her children and grandchildren and great grandchildren and I told her that we all loved her and that she would live on in us and that it was okay to go on.
Which was pretty unnecessary at that point but you know- you have to do these things. It's your job, it's your responsibility. I did not tell her to go to the light because, well, that sounded ridiculous.
Chuck got there and he had his moments with her and then he and Mr. Moon left the room and I stayed with her until her breathing well and truly stopped and it was fine, I wasn't freaked in the least, death isn't nearly as weird as you think it will be but it is emotional and I swear that at one point I could almost see and definitely feel the swirl of it all as the world rearranged itself as it has to do when a life comes or a life goes. It is a tiny thing but it is very real.
I observed that and then when I was sure she was gone in all ways, I called in the nurse and she checked and then she called in the doctor and he checked and he gave a time of death and that was that.

I'm sure there's more I'm not remembering but that is the essence of it all.

I called my brother who lives in Washington and told him and I called Hank and he called his siblings and then because life is too strange to believe, the Canadians were due to land in an hour and a half. So. Mr. Moon took me to Lily's house and Hank and May came too and he dropped me off and went and picked up the visitors and took them to dinner while we played with the boys and drank beer and ate pizza and watched Gibson dance and got as many hugs and kisses as the law allows and held each other and thank god for my family. We felt so bad that Jessie wasn't there because she loved her Granny so and her Granny loved her too but she's in Asheville with her man and she'll be down soon and then we'll all be together. My brother Russell is coming up from Central Florida on Monday and I will be so glad to see him.

The Canadians did spend the night and I would be lying if I told you that wasn't a bit bizarre. But the Dog Island trip was canceled and they took off today in the vehicle that Mr. Moon had bought them and we drove to town to go through Mother's papers to look and see if there was a prepaid funeral home plan because I had a vague memory that there was and yes, she had made one a long time ago so with two phone calls we got that process going and her body released from the hospital. It felt so odd and wrong to leave her body there last night but...this is how we do it these days.

Last night when we finally went to bed I could not sleep and so I got up and got my journal that I just started writing in and I took up a pen and I sat down and wrote for pages and pages, just complete uncensored everything and after I was done with that, I went back to bed and slept. I don't know what I would have done if I couldn't have written it all out. It soothed the images and thoughts in my head. But one of the things I wrote was that I can't even imagine how many bodies have been laid out in the parlor of this house, whatever room the parlor used to be, and there was a goodness and a rightness in that way of doing things. People would come by and visit and bring food and although I have no desire for that, not really, and who wants to look at a dead body? I've never understood the open casket thing but there should be some ritual. Sitting Shiva. Maybe that. I don't know.

Well, we're not doing that. We are not wailing or covering mirrors or gnashing our teeth. We are going through files and looking for burial plans (or cremation plans, in Mother's case) and the will. The will. Trying to remember if there is a safe deposit box and if so, where is the key? and I think I have it somewhere and Lily went with us today for all of that and we went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant and the salsa was terrific.

We went by Mother's room tonight and I got her jewelry out of there. We'll have to deal with all of those things. The last of the last of her possessions. I want none of it except for perhaps some of the earrings I gave her and the one thing in the room that makes my heart happy which is a picture of sunflowers with smiling faces painted by Frank Baisden, an artist I've discussed here before and which has always, always hung in my mother's room. He gave it to her when we moved to Roseland as a housewarming present.
The rest of it- well, we have to go through it and we will, and maybe this child will want this and that child will want that and that is as it should be. And the grandchildren, of course. She loved her grandchildren.

It rained last night. It started coming down when we were all sitting on the porch and for a moment we all grew quiet and it was perhaps the absolute most beautiful, holy sound I'd ever heard. I was grateful for that. That sound of rain falling on earth.
And today the wind has whipped and it is growing cold again and these early buds are going to be nipped but as I have pointed out, I have no control over any of that.

I can only accept and I do. I am trying to accept all that happened not only yesterday but every day that came before in my life and the way it all was and every feeling that comes up in my heart and in my mind, I am trying to just feel and not judge or put it away somewhere where it will grow and come back to bite me. Trying. It's a confusing, emotional time, to say the least, and as I told Mother before she quit breathing, I am very sorry that our relationship was so hard and so complex but it was and it would be a fool's errand to try and deny that so I acknowledge it and I acknowledged it to her because it was the truth and she knew it and I will always be sorry it was so.

But I did what I could and she did not die alone or with strangers and it was fitting somehow, that it all happened as it did although I will always be pissed about that missing DNR form. Always. But I have to come to terms with that, too, if not peace.

My mother is dead and therefore my world is different and we shall see what that's like.

I bought a cherry pie at Publix tonight and I am going to eat some. That is my plan for now. My mother is dead but I am not and I am going to eat some pie.

We go on until, as I say, we do not.

Yours truly and so much love...Ms. Moon


  1. You are such a good person, so much better than I was when my mother was dying and then dead. I had a talk with her after, told her she was a terrible mother but I wished her peace. I couldn't say I loved her, because she was so mean I didn't. I know the bible says I should have anyway, but as you might say fuck it. I was not at piece about her death and our relationship for a long time until I wrote a piece about the two of us being in a boxing ring, and me ready to pummel the bejesus out of her, until I saw her skinny legs and pathetic punch. After that piece, I forgave her but still don't love her. I hope your transition is better and expect it will be as you are such a kind and decent person. I wish you peace about it all.

  2. I'm so very sorry for the loss of your mother. My grandmother died this past April and our experience was much the same as yours. Your description of what happens when someone dies is the most perfect I've ever read. I wanted to be with my grandmother when she passed, but she seemed to want to go in private, and did. I'm glad you acknowledged your truth to her. It is so bizarre not to, I've seen that first hand. Sending love and light to you and your family. I'm glad they're all around you to help you through this time.

  3. I have so much to say. You are true and real blog friend. I won't claim to know all there was to know and all that there is for you to feel about your mother and her death. But you have shared so well with us that I think we all CAN know enough to sense what this is all about for you. At least on a simple level.

    I went back today and re-read the post from last month about the Christmas party at your mother's home. I loved that post a month ago and I loved reading it today. Knowing that she is gone. But she had the most people at the party damn it! And I know she was probably proud as hell. And she looked so happy.

    I know you're pissed about the DNR form, and that is bull that it occured. But I have to say I am kind of glad you had the chance to sit with your mom like you did. The DNR form would not have probably afforded you that opportunity.

    Well, this comment is just about as long as a post for me. Please know I am touched by what you are experiencing and by what you have dealt with your whole life in regards to your mom. And by what I know will now be processing going forward.

  4. I too wish you peace.

    And now I'm crying about you and your mother and my Grandpa that wants to die but just keeps hanging on and my father-in-law and mother-in-law who went quickly and the weird mix of relief and pain that death can bring.

    And I am thankful you and your family have eachother and especially Owen and Gibson.

  5. I am ashamed that I reversed the DNR for my mother because I could not let her go. I did this months before she fell over on her bed. She was coded and intubated. It did no good. She died just as I got there. Maybe she knew that I was there with her. But I am glad that your mother went quickly, just as mine did regardless of my not wanting her to go. She went on her own. And so did your mother. Peaceful at last. Much love to you.

  6. This post is amazingly beautiful I'm wishing you and your family peace.


  7. Suz- Just because someone gave birth to us it doesn't mean that we will love them in a way that is traditional. At all. We do what we can. We make peace in our souls as we can. Thanks for commenting. I get it.

    Ms. Vesuvius- My husband's father chose to be alone with his beloved sister when he died. I admire him for that. I think we have some control over these things. I hope so. My family is amazing and I am so lucky. Thank you.

    Jill- I think Mother did enjoy that night although as recently as a week ago she was complaining bitterly about the fact that she had been unable to eat that night. She had only wanted a little coffee. But you know what? I am so glad we went and she did cherish the pictures from that night. Especially of the great grandsons. So yes, I'm glad we did it.

    Stephanie- It is hard to die when the heart is not ready to give up. I think Mother quit eating to make it happen. She was strong that way. She'd had enough. I am going to remember this lesson should I ever be in the same situation.

    Syd- Don't be ashamed. What mother wouldn't want to think that her child couldn't bear to let her go? I feel that love and I thank you for it.

    Julia- Just...thank you. So much.

  8. This made me cry. Beautiful writing. Enjoy your pie. Am thinking of you and your sweet family.

  9. Please accept my condolences.

    May we all have someone who cares there with us at the end.

  10. I'm a new reader. Only been following your blog for a short time. I'm sorry for your loss...

  11. Eat you pie and speak your truth. We are here and we all love you.

  12. We love you, Mary. And that isn't enough and it's a there is and it is enough. If I could hug you right now, I would.

  13. You're a remarkable woman, Mary, and it's an honor to know you.

  14. I've definitely had you all on my mind today. Thank you, as always, for sharing this all. All of our love to you guys.
    By the way, at rehearsal tonight Anita said she felt odd playing my character's wife when she's 16 years older than me. I told her to talk to you about how you felt playing my character's romantic interest last year.

  15. And the salsa was terrific..."
    such is the nature of life and death...perhaps not so different.
    I remember when my own mother died not so very long ago.
    At the time I felt how meaningless our words are and yet Mary I am so sorry to hear of your own loss of your own mother. There is nothing like this loss. My thoughts are very much with you.
    Take care my very very special friend!

  16. Mary,
    I am so sorry to hear about your mom...I love you dearly and I wish you peace...

  17. Ms. Moon,
    What else is there to say except to wish you peace and much love.

  18. I was going to say what Rubye Jack said: "The salsa was terrific." In some weird twist of fate it reminded me of Warren Zevon's song about werewolves (or life or whatever that crazy song was about): "His hair was perfect."

    Please don't let anything come back to bite you ~ you have been the most perfect daughter you could be.

    And your writing pierces me in the most perfect way.

  19. Sending hugs and peace to you Ms. Moon.

  20. I am so very proud of you Mary. You are true to yourself and honest with others as well... You did very right by your mom, and you did it your way. (Omitting the part about the light!) And as you said, your relationship with her was complex, so I'm imagining there were layers of feelings coming up for you.

    It was good to hear your voice. You sounded like you were doing well. I hope that you are.

    Hug yourself and Glen and the chilluns' for me. We sure do miss you all.

    I'm here and I love you.

  21. I lost my breath reading that first line. I lost my breath. Perhaps there is some freedom in losing a mother, both for her and for her child/ren.

    I hope so.

    I'm wishing you clarity and truth.



  22. I've read your blog daily for years, and haven't had the courage to post until now. Your honesty, the truth along with the pie, speaks volumes about the woman you are-still your mother's daughter, but still very much your own. I too am glad she didn't suffer for long(er) and that you were with her. I wish for more holy rain, and a little peace, too.

  23. I would bring you more pie if I could. Life is for the living--bite by bite, its sweetness--and as you know, there is bitter poison, too.

  24. Thank you for sharing so beautifully. As always, I am happy you have such a loving and close family and they are there with you. You are loved. s Jo

  25. Your writing here is more than breathtaking -- it is, maybe, the opposite -- breath-giving.

    The complexity of your relationship with your mother -- well -- there's you. There's her and then there's you. Such mystery and such beauty.

  26. I've been thinking of you all day and thinking of my own mothers' death, reliving it almost. I believe that when someone dies, you're not just mourning their loss but every loss you've ever had. Each one compounding the grief until you let it all out.
    I hope your pie was delicious and the love of your family continues to lift you up.

  27. So glad your mother's suffering is over. Take care of yourself Ms Moon, you did everything you could. I'm glad you were able to write it all out for yourself.

  28. You have a very healthy approach to both life and death, it seems to me. I hope I have enough sense to eat some pie when my mother dies. Seriously.

    I can see how the journaling would help. Writing everything out and venting always helps organize thoughts.

    I loved your description of the tiny swirl of change that comes with death. Such an interesting way to put it.

  29. Sending much love and thinking of you today x

  30. Waiting to exhale. Thank you for your words - again.

  31. Yes, the world is different, and that difference will evolve. Bless all your hearts.

  32. So glad you got to sit with your mother as she was departing. That is worth the vexation at the missing DNR form, as someone else said.

    Glad you went and sat with your children instead of pretending nothing was happening with the Canadian company. Mr Moon was thoughtful to take them off to dinner.

    Sending love to you and yours. x0 N2

  33. Arms around you. I have often reflected on the fact that death brings its own gifts, and one of them is the coming together of the living, loved ones able to be together in a moment where nothing else matters but to cherish one another. Glad Jessie's coming. xo

  34. Such beautiful writing, so many honest and complex emotions shared. I will think of many of the words you wrote here often, especially the pie.

    When my Dad died, I was numb, on autopilot, dealing with details. It wasn't until late at night, alone in the quiet, when I started writing it down that my grief and perspective emerged fully. It was cathartic, and crucial for me to put the chaos in my brain into words, to help me make it real so I could process everything. Thank heaven we can write. Thank you for sharing your words with us.

    Hug your family close and enjoy that pie.

  35. It sounds like you did it all beautifully. And I hope that cherry pie tasted like love and freedom. I would love to have shared some with you xo

  36. I love you, Mary Moon. Thanks for sharing this story.

  37. I am so glad you could be with her at the end, my darling Mary Moon. I know exactly what you mean about the atoms rearranging themselves to accommodate the change in the spiritual atmosphere - well, you know what I mean. I know I have told you about what it was like when my mama passed and it was the most profound thing I have ever experienced (having never given birth). I am glad you are surrounded by your blessed family and that Jessie is coming and that Mr. Moon's strong arms are there for your shelter. You know I love you very much and my heart is overflowing right this minute. Eat you some pie, honey. I'm thinkin' 'bout you.

  38. Sorry to hear of your mother's death Mary. My heart with yours.
    Peace to you , to all of you.

  39. I am so sorry about your mother, Ms. Moon. You are inspiring because you are able to express yourself so well through your writing. I hope the writing will be helpful for healing. Much love, Nicol

  40. I'm so sorry for the late response but please accept my sincere condolences for your loss. Sending many e-hugs your way!


Tell me, sweeties. Tell me what you think.