"I'll wait no more for you like a daughter, that part of our life together is over,
But I will wait for you forever, like a river."
My mom died this morning at 5 a.m. eastern time.
When the phone rang, I knew what it was. Somehow though, between the two of us, Neil and I could not find the right button to push to answer.
Neil looked at the caller ID and said that it was Florida. All I wanted to do was to go back to sleep.
Twenty minutes later the phone rang again and this time it was my brother, in tears.
He said Mom was gone. We talked for a few minutes but whatever we said is blurry in my memory. I went back to sleep. I felt like I could have slept for hours more, but Neil woke me before he left for work. I got up because it was our housekeeper's day to come and she gets here early.
I felt a weird lightness.
I think it was because I was with her for the last two days of her life. I spent Monday and Tuesday with her. I got home last night after 9 p.m. By totally random chance, I timed things just right. I'm glad my mom died within 12 hours of my leaving her. If it been another day or more, I wouldn't have felt, as I do, that we were with her at the end.
On Monday, after several days of being semi-conscious, she was somewhat alert, at least relatively. She looked right at me when I talked to her and she moved her mouth a little.
I won't swear she knew it was me but I won't say it is impossible either. I talked to her about a lot of things and I told her that I knew she could hear me and that she didn't need to say anything.
On Tuesday she was different. She was unresponsive to voices and only barely responsive to being touched, as in grimacing when we turned her. Mostly though she was resting, peaceful.
Her vital signs were starting to deteriorate. As the day wore on, she was so quiet and still that several times I had to look really hard to tell that she was breathing.
When I finally left, I knew that I was saying goodbye for the last time. A lot of people said she waited for me to come, and then a lot of people said she was waiting for me to leave.
I talked to her, alone, for a bit before I left. Talking made me cry. And after a while, I had said all that I could think of. Which summed up, was really that I didn't need to say a lot because my feelings transcended words.
I knew this time she couldn't hear me. She was so far gone and I couldn't make my voice project much. I was talking mostly for myself. It was as though the emotion behind the words was so powerful, it could be conveyed through the air, could leap from my heart to hers, as from synapse to synapse.
And then I drove my rental car to the airport and got on an airplane and came home. At the Fort Lauderdale airport I bought a t-shirt that said Life is Good. I look at them in the gift shop every time I go home. They are pricey for t-shirts, but I wasn't expecting to pass through that airport again any time soon. Maybe ever.
I wasn't surprised to get the call this morning. My dad died on November 30, 2010. I predicted that my mom would go on October 30.
I have cried so much over the last 10 days, but today my eyes are dry. My brother, who has been stoic throughout this emotional time, broke down and wept this morning.
My brother dealt with his pain by making arrangements for the interment and calling as many people as he could think of.
I called my children. I wanted to spare them all the heartache and uncertainty of this time, so I waited until this morning after Mom was gone. They each took the news philosophically.
I called some of my cousins, because my brother asked me to.
I went to Sugar Land Animal Services and spent two hours with the cats, the way I do every Wednesday.
I went to the community center and walked on the treadmill as I do most afternoons.
Mom will be laid to rest, or rather elevated to an above-ground vault, on Sunday morning. I won't go. My brother will go and as it turns out, two sets of cousins will be in Florida this weekend and will attend.
My brother was vacillating about whether to fly his kids down for the day. We talked about a possible celebration of her life at a later date with all of our kids. A little ceremony at the site and then maybe a weekend at Disney World. Mom and Dad loved Epcot especially.
My mom is gone. I'm sure grief will ebb and flow. I'm good today, maybe I'll be sad tomorrow, maybe not.
Maybe now memories of mom in happier times will come and replace the sad ones of the last two years and 11 months.
In the Jewish faith, it is said upon a death, blessed is the true judge. I think this means it is not for us to try to understand, only to accept. Rhyme and reason are the responsibility of a higher power.
I'm too much of a control freak to take that on board without question.
But Mom was 90 years and five months old. She had a good run. I can accept her going now with grace and gratitude.
This is a happy time in a happy place. My parents and my children. So much happiness, so much love.
"Dear mother the struggle is over now
And your house is up for sale
We divided your railroad watches
Between the four of us
I fought over the pearls
With the other girls
But it was all a metaphor
For what was wrong with us
As the room is emptying out
Your face so young comes into view
And on the back porch is a well-worn step
And a pool of light that you can walk into
I'll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river
In the river I know I will find the key
And your voice will rise like spray
In the moment of knowing
The tide will wash away my doubt
'Cause you're already home
Making it nice for when I come home
Like the way I find my bed turned down
Coming in from a late night out
Please keep reminding me
Of what in my soul I know is true
Come in my boat, there's a seat beside me
And two or three stars we can gaze into
I'll wait no more for you like a daughter
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you forever
Like a river."