Throughout my life I had a love/hate relationship with my mom. I always felt like my older and younger sisters were closer to mom, and that she would rather spend time with anyone else but me. I loved my mom, and I think I was somewhat resentful of her drinking. I used to pour the liquor out of the bottles and then fill them back up with water and food coloring. I would take beer out of the refrigerator and hide it in my room, and drank it whenever I wanted to. My mom never called me out on my antics, and I always wondered if she knew, or if she was too drunk to pay attention. By this time she had been in and out of rehabilitation centers and I never saw a change that would stick. She may stay away from the bar for a few days, but then she would go back into her normal routines. I think that is why I wasn’t interested in visiting her at the hospital when she was admitted after a 911 call.
I was busy with my life, my volleyball, my cheerleading, my friends, I had no interest in visiting her at the hospital (yet again) when we had games to play. Her boyfriend went to visit her all the time, but he had to go in the evenings as he had a business to run. I turned him down several times to go see my mom, but this time he didn’t take no for my answer. I pouted all the way in to Denver, and didn’t say much when we pulled in. After we got out of the elevator, one of the doctors that was attending mom stopped us from going in the room. He wanted to give us an update on her condition before we walked in.
The doctor told us that she had deteriorated severely. She had ripped out all the intravenous liquids (IV) from her arms, she had refused medication, and she had lost the will to live. The doctor looked at me and said “don’t be surprised if she doesn’t remember you, and please don’t take off her restraints, she is hurting herself so we have to keep them on.” Well this was just too much for me to handle, and I nearly fainted, the doctor walked me over near the window where cool air was blowing in. I felt like I just got my guts ripped out of me-like someone was lying to me this whole time when I asked how she was doing. Part of me was also feeling guilty for not going in to see her much, but part of me died inside. We walked into her room and it was horrible. She was so swollen up, and her restraints were around her wrists and ankles. She didn’t know me. I tried talking to her, trying to remind her of who I was but it didn’t work. In fact she was calling me “nurse” in the beginning, but she did finally recognize me in the moments before we left. I told her that I loved her, and she begged me to take off her restraints from her arms so she could hug me. I took one off and she moved her hand over and ripped her IV out of her arm and it started bleeding. The nurse came in right away and we said goodbye and walked out of the hospital room.
A few days later, my mom’s boyfriend woke me up at some early hour in the morning making some weird sounds and I was scared. I am sorry to ever have thought he would ever harm me, but I really thought he wanted to treat me like Mark. (earlier posts) I started crying and screaming “no, no I don’t want to do anything…” He let go of my arm and said “Heather, it’s your mom, it’s your mom…we have to go!” The hour long drive in to Denver that morning seemed to take forever. Her boyfriend told us that my mom had a heart attack and wasn’t going to make it through the night. By the time we got to the hospital she had been moved up to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and was plugged into so many machines. She was absolutely swollen so badly that her eyes looked slanted and I didn’t recognize her. My sister had to convince me it was her. The three of us girls got to go in the room to say goodbye. It was the worst day of my life; she didn’t respond to any of our cries, she wasn’t there when we said our forever goodbye. Her stomach was bloated so much that she looked pregnant, her skin was so yellow she didn’t look the same. Her entire face was so blown up that all of her features that I remembered from when I was young were gone. After we left the room, the doctor asked mom’s boyfriend to sign the papers for the machines to be turned off. I didn’t want them too, I wanted them to stay on so my mom could get better, but the doctor said she will not make it back from the coma she had slipped into. We said goodbye to my mom, and I never cried so much in my entire life. She was everything to me; even though we didn’t get along, it was the unconditional love that she had for us girls that we lost that day. No one has ever loved us like she did.
Her funeral was held at our high school in the small gym, where we held school concerts, dances, and practices. The gym was full of people, I didn’t even know there was that many people who knew my mom, but there they were. We sat in the front row next to my aunts (my mom’s sisters) and my uncle Jimmy (my father’s brother). My grandmother and grandfather on my father’s side were there too. Even two girls from the neighborhood we lived in with my step father Chuck.
I don’t remember anything about the service, all I remember is that my mom’s casket was open. When I saw her there she looked peaceful, but I lost it. I threw myself on her chest and begged her to come back to me. I sobbed and sobbed and had to be picked back off of her so the rest of the people could parade by. I pulled two of my friends in the limousine with me to take the ride up to the cemetery. She was laid to rest on the hill under a small tree.
I don’t know why people always have food after funerals. It seems to me that it is torture for those who are left behind by the newly deceased. I hated being at the dinner, it was held at the Elks Club where mom spent her nights. All the faces of the people that seemed to stare at me, and tried to give me their most concerned look. All the old rumors that flew around our town regarding my mother came flooding back in my head and I wanted to get out of there. I couldn’t understand how people could talk so badly about someone, and then cry at their funeral like there was friendship there.
The rest of my freshman year was a blur. I played my sports and did my school work, but that freedom of “unconditional love” that children get with their parents was gone. My father never showed up for my mom’s funeral, neither did her parents. What sort of parents don’t show up to their own daughter’s funeral?