It’s been a week since my mom passed away at home. The whole ordeal was a blur, waking up to see her still sleeping but no longer breathing, calling all the right people to take care of a body, consoling my dad who just lost his wife, calling my mom’s friends and family to tell them the news, meeting with the funeral home about cremation services. It’s wild just how much work is to be done right after one of the most stressful and saddest moments of your life just happened — planning ahead of time only helps so much.
Even when someone is slowly fading away and the end could be any day now, the end is still a shock. When you’re in a routine of caring for someone who is dying, you’re trained to look at the signs, like discoloration of the knees and feet, to monitor breathing patterns. The last week of her life was mostly spent sitting at her bedside, watching White Sox games (they were winning and then they were losing badly), and crocheting a baby blanket for my cousin. I’d tell her about my day (nothing too exciting happened) and how the Sox were doing in case she couldn’t hear the TV. Her eyes were closed 90 percent of the day. I’d give her a tiny bit of morphine every three hours as instructed. Then when it was time for me to go to sleep, I would give her a kiss on her forehead and say, “Good night, see you tomorrow.” We had already spent so many days like this together, why not just one more day? One more day to do the same things and breathe the same air in the same space, to share this big house as one big family one last time.
I’ve heard somewhere that when you’re grieving the passing of a close family member, that it can help to live life regularly while you’re processing the loss. Obviously I wasn’t going to go back to work because it was my company’s big three-day summer bash and the idea of trying to party in front of my coworkers while freshly grieving makes me want to die myself so that wasn’t an option. I was still hanging out at my parents’ house in North Aurora for the time being but I needed to get out for a little bit so I called my friend Rachel, partly because Rachel is an amazing friend whose presence is pure comfort, and partly because her neighborhood has a park with swings and those swings are very fun.
We’re in her car thinking about what to get for dinner and she’s like, “I’m thinking McDonald’s.” I’m always…