For those of you who haven't heard, my mother died last week. Bill and I traveled across the state on January 5th to spend her 86th birthday with her on the 7th. Our plan was to return home on the 8th, but we extended our visit through the 10th. Two days later, my mom suffered 3 massive strokes and went into a coma. She never regained consciousness. At 8:53 a.m. Tuesday, January 15th, her heart slowed down until it just stopped beating. She died peacefully.
While she was in a coma, I talked to her, rubbed her feet and arms, kissed her face and sang to her. She loved the song, "If He Walked into My Life Today" from Mame. I think it reminded her of my dad. While I couldn't possibly match Eydie Gorme's voice, I sang it anyway. Then I sang a song that always made her cry. Growing up as part of the congregation of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Manheim, PA (the Red Rose Church), my sisters and I sang in the Children's Choir. Every year, we sang "Let There Be Peace on Earth." It wasn't just the song that Mom loved; it was also the memory of her sweet little girls singing their hearts out in the choir loft behind the majestic pipe organ. I fought back my own tears as I leaned over her bed singing the words to her... funny how I'd never picked up on one of the last lines of the song before -- "To take each moment and live each moment in peace eternally..." The word pierced my heart. I wasn't ready to let her go. I wasn't ready for her to transition into eternity. I just wasn't ready.
On Saturday, my husband closed out her memorial service by singing "Let There Be Peace On Earth." It wasn't quite the same as if my sisters and I had sang it, but it was probably just as difficult for him to do. Bill loved my mom. And she loved him.
Of the past 17 days, I spent 15 of them in my hometown. In addition to saying goodbye to my mom, I also have to say goodbye to my childhood home. It's not easy. Our house in Manheim was a gathering place for all of us. My niece, who lives in NYC, and my nephew, from Vegas, consider it home. My own children have years worth of memories there. Even my mom's great-grandchildren love going there.
As we sorted through Mom's things, we each took special items... items that will remind us, not only of her, but of our history in that house. It was the house where I wrote my first poem. The house where I discovered my love of writing. And of birds. It was where I learned about family and forgiveness and resilience. I nursed my own broken heart there time and time again. And it was the place where I launched dreams in that same heart. Let me tell you... it's not easy to let go.
As much as I'm not unfamiliar with grief, I am not familiar with what is ahead. I suspect the pain will knock me down at unexpected moments. That is why I'm asking for your grace. Postings may be sporadic for awhile. But I'll be back to my daily postings eventually. I just need a bit of time to reflect, to mourn and to get my bearings. My mother and my home were constants in my life. I think I'm about to lose my footing.