How Long Is Forever?
Usually, I only share events related to my culinary journey with a few random bits thrown in. Not because I’m trying to avoid the real; I just try to stay focused on my goals. It’s a new year and with 11 ¼ more months ahead it would be good to start off with cheer. But, when you lose someone close to you, life demands that you take a pause. And I haven’t been able to take a solid step because I needed to write this post but had no heart to do it.
Last August, my mom passed away. She had several chronic conditions but her death still took my family by surprise. In the 1st few weeks after she passed, I only remembered the immediate details of what I was told: that Saturday she was in a good mood; her good friend had even gone for a visit. The next day, she wasn’t feeling well and didn’t feel like eating. She was diabetic so this was especially an issue. By Monday she stopped speaking. My sister, who was home on a pop-in visit, called me. I tried to talk to my mom but the only word she could say was ‘Hi.’ She was taken to the hospital soon after, so the doctors could run tests. All night I waited, without sleeping, restless and emotionally shutting down because you know that feeling when you just know? Breaking dawn the next day, like a thief in the night, she was gone.
While I was in Antigua helping to prepare for her funeral I got a broader picture of her last month. The persons she spoke to, things she did. I found out details about her I never knew and saw her a woman and not just a mom. I realized too late the significance of things that didn’t seem like a big deal at the time. Like if mom asked what time to call and I said 1:30, she would call at 1:28 just to be on time. My mother hated to be late. I wouldn’t realize until the next day that she didn’t just miss the call time; she didn’t call at all. This happened a few times. Never before then did my mom miss a call and I densely didn’t recognize that something was up until I was sitting writing her eulogy and put that detail in perspective with all the other details.
I’ve dreamt about her often since she died. At first not words, just her face and smile. Then the more difficult dreams. The ones where you know it’s your subconscious trying to make sense of terrible loss. Did she hear my last ‘I love you’? Is she happy; at peace and in no pain? And the worst, how long will she be gone for? Because forever is too inconceivable to grasp.
My mother was my 1st friend, her love constant and dependable. She was generous and smart, stubborn and resolute in her faith. Whenever there was an obstacle she tried and tried again. Like the tree in this post’s feature picture: she planted and nurtured the lime tree even when it refused to grow. That tree struggled, first through difficultly taking root, then drought, and then apparent barrenness. Now it thrives because mom wouldn’t give up.
She taught me everything she knew about cooking and took a lot of joy when I started experimenting in the kitchen. Mom literally delighted in every tiny accomplishment my sister and I had. Both our parents did. She would whoop and cheer and shout ‘Hallelujah’ as loudly as she could. Usually I would roll my eyes a little but smile despite myself. I found out that mom checked my site every day, one of the 1st things she’d do in the mornings. Even if I didn’t post anything new, she’d re-read old posts and look at pictures.
It’s a deep sorrow I have that I wasn’t there when she died. I’ll never get over it. Yet I believe with every part of me that she’s with God and that comforts me in a way nothing else does. Sometimes in life you get a do-over and sometimes you don’t. The things I would do-over if I could. But death has a zero do-over policy. So I carry everything I can remember of my mom with me always and try to do her proud. I laugh at the good memories and cry at the sad ones and I try every day to be as good a mom to my daughter as my mother was to me.
One of mom’s wise sayings was, “Keep on keeping on.” Ok mom, I will. Rest well. I love you.