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All of these months, and really the last month especially, I didn’t know what the “after” of caregiving would be like and now I am here and I must say it’s worse than I thought it would be. Mom died on the 12th and even though it was a steady, progressive decline for the previous 31 days, I was still utterly and completely shocked. I don’t understand how that’s possible but I have been told it is very common.

We were lucky that the Church where mom’s funeral would be held was not available for seven days which afforded me the opportunity to try and gather myself. I was in shambles. Standing was a challenge, my legs were like jello and my head felt like I had just gotten off the biggest roller coaster in history. I was dizzy, fully able to think yet not able to have a clear thought.

Thankfully we had pre-planned her funeral two years ago so the big things were all done, what a blessing that was. I had been writing a paragraph here, a sentence there, for years so I would be ready for her eulogy knowing full well that when she did pass I wouldn’t be able to construct a sentence.

As much as I wasn’t prepared for her death, I also wasn’t prepared to see her again at our private viewing. This may sound strange but I forgot how much I enjoyed being in the same space with her. Being able to touch her, being able to see her. I honestly wanted to take her home, like this was all just some big mistake and now we’re leaving, see ya!

But I knew I couldn’t do that. I didn’t want to leave her though. I just wanted to stay there next to her, be near her. I still felt that way in Church the next day but then it seemed like that was where we were supposed to be. In the Church she loved, where she was a Sunday greeter every week. People used to specifically attend the noon Mass because they knew she would be the one saying hello to them, with her sparkly eyes, her beautiful attire and her warm nature.

I am experiencing not only the loss of my mother, but the loss of my mother who lived in our house. I continue to move towards her room only to remember she’s not here. Consistently thinking I have to…… It’s like being punched in the face twenty times a day.

There are times I go into her room and sit on her couch and wonder how we got here. I haven’t touched anything in there since that night and it brings me equal parts sorrow and comfort. It still smells like her but then I see her slippers on the floor and my heart sinks. There are times “oh mom” just comes out of my mouth. I don’t intentionally say it, I don’t even realize it, it just happens.

There are times where my grief is so overwhelming I almost can’t breathe and the sadness spreads through me like ocean waves on the sand.

But then there are moments when I sit outside and those glorious Cardinals sing to me. And the Blue Jay flies by and opens his wings wide so I can see yes indeed, that is a blue bird and those other moments when I actually feel her presence, I thank her for the signs. I thank her for finding ways to let me know she is here. And then I think she’s been there for ten minutes and she’s already running the place! And that makes me smile.


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