Alternate reality

I feel a little like I’ve been in an alternate reality for the last three months, and I’m only slowly emerging back out of it. It has been two weeks since my mom passed away. A week and a day since I placed her urn into the grave, facing my father. That was July 7 – his birthday – a day of transition for me.

I remember deciding not to start chemotherapy on July first, because that was Canada Day, and I didn’t want the association of chemotherapy and Canada Day. Now, the association I have is of my mother’s passing. Fireworks on Canada Day will forever remind me of sitting on my Aunt’s porch, only a few hours after mom passed, watching a personal fireworks display which we decided to do in honour of mom. She wanted us to be there, and to enjoy them.

I’m home for a bit and I’m buried. I have forms to fill, and things to think about, plans to be made. We are hoping that in August we can do a quick push to get the house ready for sale. We cannot sell until probate clears. The house is in a good neighbourhood, on a good street, and is in reasonably good shape. We expect it to sell quickly once we can get it on the market.

As I go through the process of deconstructing mom’s house, I am reminded of a reflection my Aunt made when she did the same with grandma’s apartment. Cleaning out involves a deconstructing of life.

Then the question comes – what to keep and what not to keep. There are so many things that had great meaning to mom, but have no context for me. I don’t know the stories behind the objects. Some are just pretty objects. Then there are those things that I do remember – the gifts I helped dad pick out or purchase for mom. Those ones I remember.

I’m sad to think that I am taking things that are meaningful to me, but that I won’t have anyone to pass them down to. My brother and I didn’t have kids. We have cousins with kids – so some items make sense going to them, but others it is like their history is lost. The stories behind them are gone.

I’m thankful that I spent the last three months with mom, as I had an idea of what was happening with the house. I had a sense of which contractors she was already paying, and how much she was paying. I’m thankful that mom wrote some detailed journals. The journals were sad, but also provided hits of what she wanted and how things were going.

I’m sad that I never told mom that I understood why she called the ambulance when dad was sick. That I feel so bad for criticizing her decision on the telephone call. I really didn’t understand what it was like to be the caregiver in that position, watching a loved one suffer … at least not until I was the one in that position.

I am glad that on the Wednesday before she died I woke up crying. I had some to the realization that I had a finite number of mom hugs left. I went into mom’s room crying, in need of a hug. That was the best hug I have ever felt, and I will carry that with me forever.

And so now I am home, trying to pick up some of the pieces that I left hanging when I walked away from this life to be a caregiver. My desk is stacked with papers that I need to go through and figure out.

In other news, I got accepted into Project LEAD Institute. I’m going to spend a week in San Diego (mental note, must book flights). I will spend a week wrapping my head around all the biology and science of breast cancer, but also learn more about being an advocate and meeting some amazing women in the process. I’m looking forward to it.

  • Becky

One Comment

  • Becky, you are an amazing candidate for Project LEAD Institute. You will make amazing connections, new friends, and in many ways, this is a tribute to your Mother and all you’ve been through this summer. Represent us well, my friend and welcome to the LEAD graduate alum club after your experience! ~Terri

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