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Sunday, December 25, 2016
Why I Don't Want To Say Good-bye To 2016
And it was.
My maternal uncle informed us that his cancer had returned and was inoperable. It had reached the bones and was so far spread that there was nothing that could be done except to make him as comfortable as possible until the day came for us to say "See ya later..."
He first was diagnosed two years ago. It came as a shock to all of us, as a cancer diagnosis usually comes, but he fought it. He fought so bravely, so hard, and with such passion that when he was given the news that he was in remission we were ecstatic. We knew he could do it.
Then one day during a follow-up visit he received the news that it had returned. Doctors told him at the beginning of this year that these holidays would be his last. That if he saw the end of the year then it would be a miracle. Little did we know how true that statement would be... because he did not get the chance to even see Halloween.
My uncle passed away October 5, 2016. He passed away as one of the bravest and most courageous people I have ever known.
Just the month before that I had a paternal uncle pass away. His death was a shock, but not unexpected. His wife called us to let us know when he was in the hospital, and just days later he had passed.
He passed away in September 2016.
But the worst part of this year came, for me, in November. It was the most life-changing day of my entire life, thus far, and it still hurts to think about it.
It was the day my mom passed away.
My mom was one of the greatest women I have ever known. She was one of my best friends and was always there for anyone who needed someone. She was one of those women who, if she was depressed, still managed to smile so you didn't have to worry about her. If she needed food, but you needed gas for your car, she would give you the last of her money and go without. If she was tired, but you needed to talk to someone at 2:00 a.m., she would take your call and stay on the phone with you until you were ready to go. If she was sick and you called her, needing anything, she would do/give it.
She was the most selfless person you would have ever met.
She would be hurt by people over and over again, but would still be there for them if they ever called on her for help.
She would be in tears, in pain, but would still walk a mile to lend a helping hand.
She just wanted to be needed, to be useful, to be a friend to anyone and everyone. Because when she was younger she didn't have that.
As I write this I am in tears myself. When my mom passed I lost a part of myself. I felt empty and lost. I still feel that way. Often. And I am not sure when that feeling will go away, if ever. There is a void in my heart and an empty space in this world that she left behind that no one will ever be able to fill.
I wake up some mornings in a good mood, then I remember...
I remember the last time I got to see my mom and give her a hug.
I remember the last time I got to speak to my mom on the phone and tell her I loved her.
I remember her words of encouragement to me when my hubby and I and our kids moved hundreds of miles away.
I remember when she told me she was proud of the woman I had become - the wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter.
And then I feel that loss all over again.
My mom got sick with bronchitis right before Halloween. She wasn't able to fight it and soon was so sick that she couldn't get out of bed. My sisters and father called an ambulance and she was rushed to the hospital. They placed her in ICU in critical condition. She had severe sepsis, which had reached her brain, and kidney failure. Her oxygen was too low and she was delirious. They treated her immediately by placing her on a round of antibiotics. They seemed to be helping but then a blood clot was detected, so they placed her on another medication.
Her condition improved and she was taken out of ICU only to be placed back in the next day because they couldn't keep her blood pressure up.
After another round of treatments they finally thought they had it under control so they moved her to a regular room. They even told us she was doing so well that she may be able to go home in a couple of days. When I talked to her on the phone she was relieved and hopeful.
Then, that night, or early the next morning, she went into cardiac arrest. It took twenty minutes to resuscitate her. By that time, however, there was no sign of brain activity.
My sister called me at just after 5:00 a.m. the morning of November 11 to inform me that my mother was on life-support and that it didn't look good.
Three hours later my brother called me to tell me that my mom wasn't going to make it.
An hour later I had a flight booked and was heading to the airport. My plane took off from my city to Detroit, MI at just after noon my local time.
By the time I got to my sister's car and we were driving to the hospital she informed me, with tears in her eyes and streaming down her face, that my mom had passed.
How could that be true? How could my mom have passed away? She wasn't supposed to leave us. She was the ONE person who was ALWAYS there for us. How could she be gone? She was only 60! Her birthday was November 18th and we were planning a surprise for her. She couldn't be gone.
But no matter how many times I questioned it the result never changed. My mom was gone.
I walked into the hospital room to say 'good-bye', knowing (with what our belief is) that she was no longer there. And I stared.
I stared and I cried.
And my chest hurt.
My stomach cramped.
I couldn't breathe.
I began to cry to sob - and almost collapsed on the floor.
How were we supposed to live life without a mom?
Well, we had to learn.
We had to take one second at a time. Then one minute, one hour, one day, and one week at a time. We had to give ourselves (and still) moments to grieve and moments to remember with joy.
We realized that we had to live.
We had to remember everything our mom taught us and we needed to live our lives with those lessons.
And we needed to remember that life is so very short and unpredictable.
I have always taught my boys that each time we speak to someone, and every time we talk to them, we are possibly creating our last memories with them. So we need to make them good memories.
We need to be the friend to people that we would want to have. We need to be kind and generous and loving. We need to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
And those are things I remember when I think of my mom. And I hope that I can be half the mom, wife, and friend - woman - that she was.
So while we have said 'good-bye' to "stars" this year, I have had to say 'good-bye' to a couple of my heroes.
And a part of me does not want to say good-bye to 2016 because this was the last year I was able to make memories with my heroes. From here on out I am only able to make memories of the memories.