Yesterday November 21st was the twentieth anniversary of my mother’s death. I can scarcely believe shes been gone that long. It certainly doesn’t feel like it. A year or two maybe but not twenty. Then I think of all that’s occurred since she’s been gone, all the things she was unable to be a part of, all the things I wish she could have seen, all the family birthdays, her grandchildren’s graduations, weddings, and the birth of her great grandchildren. I wish she could have been around to see me earn my master’s degree and become a counselor.
I wish she could have been there for Janene’s wedding day. She missed so many incredible events. But then again Heaven has got to be the most incredible event of a lifetime! Still, when I think of these things and so many others, I miss my mom and realize she has been gone a very long time.
Her passing was unexpected, we had no time to prepare. I’m not sure what’s worse, sudden death or a long illness resulting in death. Both are difficult. But the latter, although painful in that you have to watch a loved one slowly drained of life, you at least have the opportunity to say your goodbyes and you have closure, no regrets.
A sudden death is a shock to the system and catches you completely off guard, there are no goodbyes, or closure, just a lot of regrets. Believe me, I had plenty of regrets and a ton of guilt! No, make that a ton and a half. It took me nearly two years to find peace and come to terms with my mother’s death. In the meantime I succeeded in making the lives of my wife and kids a nightmare. I’m so sorry, I hope they have forgiven me, I’m pretty sure they have. I was a real mess. I don’t wish that type of grief on anyone. It’s the worst. In life my mom taught me so much and even after her death she continued to influence my thinking. In dealing with her death I learned about life, and how significant every moment is. In working through my guilt and pain she helped me to become a better person, something I continue to strive for today and will continue to strive for until my dying day.
My mom was an incredible woman. She certainly surprised me when her and my dad up and sold their home and moved to Las Vegas. We always encouraged them to do it, we just never really thought they would. I’m glad they did. She really enjoyed that final year of her life. She was so happy. It would have been a real tragedy if they had never moved and she would have died at home alone, a real tragedy. Things happen for a reason.
My mom lives on in our memories and we are reminded of her everyday. Our 8 year old granddaughter is named after my mom and her other deceased great grandma. My mom’s name was Angela, (Angie for short) and her other great grandma Arlene. Her name is Anjalene, a fitting tribute to two wonderful women. Funny, but at school Anjalene’s school friends call her Angie. Grandpa’s little Angie.
Love you mom. Miss you. Until we meet again…
My daughter had a very special relationship with her nana. She was her first great grandchild, just as Anjalene is mine. My mom loved her like no other. Yesterday she wrote about her nana on her blog. I’d like to share her words with you.
I actually don’t remember where I was when I first heard the news.
I remember driving to pick up my little brother from preschool.
I remember talk of angels and clouds and heaven.
I remember my grandparents coming over and taking us to dinner.
I remember sitting in the back seat of their yellow Volvo feeling numb.
I remember sitting on my parent’s bed with my two brothers watching Beverly Hills 90210 that evening.
I remember now that I had no idea of how my whole life was forever changed.
My Nana had died.
My life would never be the same again.
My dad was different.
My aunt was different.
My Papa was different.
My uncle was different.
Nothing was the same.
Grief does strange things to people.
Guilt does stranger things to people.
Grief and guilt combined?
This can break one.
Twenty years ago today my Nana died.
No more songs sung to me…
“Who’s that girl in the pink jacket?”
No more, “I love my Janene Marie.”
No more damp washcloths and blessings on car drives.
No more little square gum pieces from the bank.
Pan dulce and grandma’s coffee will never taste the same.
But because she died…
I learned early on that sometimes the people we love most can hurt us the most.
I learned that we can honor the dead by honoring their wishes.
I learned that life is short.
I learned that death is not an end.
Twenty years later…
I have a daughter named after her,
a chair reupholstered from her living room,
two bird statues from her collection…
but more importantly I have memories.
Memories and lessons learned from the life she lived and the kids she raised.
Twenty years ago today my Nana died.
My life has never been the same since.