Today is the 4th anniversary of my mother’s death. On this day every year, I go to Wal-Mart and I buy snacks – crackers, cookies, applesauce, cereal – all packaged in individual servings. Maybe I buy some fresh cookies, or some chocolate. Then I take the bags of snacks, and I drive to Clarehouse, where I drop them off for the guests and their families to eat.
Clarehouse is the place where my mother passed away. It’s a non-profit “end of life” facility and they exist completely on donations. I like to bring them things they need. I wish I could do it more often, but at least I do it once a year. It’s the least I can do – I couldn’t have gotten through that time four years ago without their help.
Today when I went to Clarehouse, one of the caretakers still remembered me. I guess we made an impression on some of the people there…
Once I drop off the snacks, I walk to the back of the property, where there is a little screened-in, open-air chapel and a small water feature. I sit on a bench and listen to the birds and the water. Today I heard woodpeckers, cardinals, killdeer, sparrows and blue jays. I also heard nail guns and earth movers – someone has decided that the area needs more apartment buildings. The birds and I disagree.
As I sat and listened to the sounds, I thought about my mom. I still have flashbacks from time to time; even though I try to convince myself that I no longer have PTSD. Which I don’t. But I’m not sure my stomach has totally gotten the news yet, sadly. So I had some flashbacks to our last days at Clarehouse. I remember how hard it was and how I would much rather forget some of the things I saw and did but at the same time, I don’t want to forget because it’s made me who I am today.
I also had some different memories this time though. Finally this year I can remember more of the good things. I can remember my mom not as a stressed-out unhappy woman, or a deteriorating, dying woman. I can remember laughing with her while watching a sitcom. I can remember laughing with her while imitating characters we saw on Sesame Street. I remember her every time I make a cheesecake; I can picture her showing me how to fold the egg whites into the cream cheese. I’m not a cook by any means, but it’s amazing how many handy little kitchen tips I have, and can attribute directly to my mom. Thanks mom!
I think I am over wondering about her death. I don’t dwell anymore on wondering how the universe could allow so much suffering. Because to me it looked like suffering… but I don’t know for sure exactly what it was for her. It’s not for me to know.
I don’t have to remember her through the flashbacks from Clarehouse, or from my house before we got her there. I can remember her through laughter, and as the person who shaped my sense of humor and play. And as the person who taught me how to cut an onion.
She is OK now, and I am getting there.
We are all perfect after all.
Now could someone please convince my stomach??