Life Is Beautiful

“Follow the signs to Terminal B,” my dad said as I almost missed the turn at the airport.  I was driving, and I wasn’t sure where I was going as it had probably been 15 years since I flew into the San Jose airport.  Though the landscape surrounding the area looked the same.

Everything looked the same actually.  Only now … everything is totally different.

The lump in my throat grew and I had trouble removing myself from my dad’s car.  For I shed more tears on the ride to the airport, hugging my brother and my dad goodbye and on the flights home than I had in the previous 2.5 weeks combined.  Leaving them ultimately ripped off the bandaids we’ve been using to provide comfort and clarity to each other, exposing our gaping wounds and raw emotions. 

Accepting our ‘new normal’ meant that the reality of life is now upon us.  And my mom is truly gone. 

I’ve walked around in a virtual haze since my late night arrival into San Francisco a few weekends ago.  What I hoped would be a quick visit to see my mom in the hospital and offer support to my father and siblings during what was already an unfathomable and sudden series of events, turned into a surreal nightmare.  I can’t help but feel like I’m having one of those out of body experiences where I’m watching from above as my life slowly unfolds below me.  Minute by minute.  Hour by hour.  Day by day.

It was just twelve short days from her lung cancer diagnosis to her death.  Twelve days.  Barely enough time to comprehend her prognosis.  Certainly not enough time to understand enough about chemotherapy and radiation, pain relievers and sedatives, dialysis and kidney failure, pH balances and stents, tumor lysis and bipap machines, DNI and DNR.  But we became well versed in hospitalese.  And we sat by her side 14, 15, 16 hours a day.  Nobody ever leaving her alone, for we were her advocates.  We demanded to know every poke, every test, every single thing they put into her failing body.

My brother and I were with her during the final few moments as her heart beat slowed and faded to a long thin line.  Was she scared?  Did she know how hard we tried to provide her comfort?  Did she feel how much we love her?  Nobody tells you that death very seldom resembles a Made for Lifetime TV movie with a beautiful Hollywood ending.   It’s messy.  It’s scary.  And often times leaves more questions than answers along with little closure.  Her passing was no exception.

These past eighteen days from the date of my arrival to San Francisco, have been a blur.  From choosing a final resting place to planning a funeral and catering a luncheon to organizing drawers and cabinets and bathrooms to focusing on our family.  There are no words to describe how the unwavering support from our family and friends helped get us through these past several days. Well ... that and humor.  And inappropriate jokes.  And pictures.  And the wrestling tournament my dad has been running for the past 20+ years (where my brother Scott announced and my brother Randy officiated).  These things to focus on, aside from the obvious, have given us the opportunity to begin the healing process together, in four very different ways.  We.  Are.  Blessed.

Last night I flew back home.  To my amazingly selfless husband who has given me the most precious gift of time.  To my kids.  To my friends who have become my extended family.  However, I am at a loss with where to begin.  How do I deal with my lack of closure?  My anger and frustration?  Where do I turn for answers?

Though leaving my brothers and my dad, the calming familiarity of the house where I grew up, and the safety net where one could melt down were far more difficult than I could have imagined, deep down I know that Life is Beautiful and it must go on.

"Dear Mom.  While our relationship has always run its own course, oftentimes with our paths never crossing, I never stopped loving you.  It may be awhile before our yin and our yang come together again, but one thing is for sure … our twain are sure to meet." 

Until then, May Her Memory Be Of A Blessing.

 The very last picture ever taken of my mother (17 days before ...)

Our "new" normal


Mom24 said...

(((hugs))) Lack of closure. That's it exactly.

Thinking of you.

Unknown said...

Simply beautiful, Jill. I wish I could find you answers or help give you closure - am sure we all feel that way, dear friend. I can tell you this: while the hole can never be filled and the pain never totally goes away, something evolves...warm memories, smiles, laughter...stories you've never heard before (I'm still hearing them about my brothers and that was 2006).

The service was so beautiful and touching - laced with some Latz family humor which warmed everyone. And what a magnificent final resting place you chose. She has a view, that is for sure! ❤️

Offer stands if you or your family need anything at all.


Nomads By Nature said...

oh, Jill, I am so sorry for your loss. Your mom's legacy lives on in you, your children, your siblings, your Dad, close friends and those she touched in smaller ways. But it isn't the same as being able to just call and hear her voice, is it. That's how I felt when my Dad died suddenly. Sending you big hugs as you hold and help each other through this new stage.

Daniela Swider said...

This is so heartbreaking! Sending you lots of strength and love!!!

Kate Coveny Hood said...

Sending all of you so much love Jill! I wish we still lived 20 minutes apart so I could hug you!

amy said...

Jill, So sorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing forever in your heart.
I lost my mom to a heart attack when I was 18. She had it at a black tie dinner party, survived a pace maker surgery and then 36 hours after the first arrest, she was gone. I wish I had answers for you but the loss of your mom will always be there as an empty space. The loss will hit you at the most inconvenient times. It has been 33 years since my mom passed and 23 since my dad.
Many hugs from one motherless daughter to another. Hug your kids, love your husband and it does get easier. When, who knows.
Many hugs and blessings

Loukia said...

I'm so deeply sorry for your loss. Hugs and love and healing thoughts. xo

Unknown said...

Even in your grief you beautifully and make us think, we love u

Unknown said...

Even in your grief you beautifully and make us think, we love u

Unknown said...

Jill, I'm so very sorry. I too lost my mom and I know how difficult and heart wrenching it is. Wishing you much love and peace during this difficult time. Stephanie

Unknown said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss.

Jill said...

This is heartbreaking. I kept thinking of myself in the situation and how that would be. I am sorry for you loss.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jill, I am so sorry for your loss. I'd like to think that she knew you were there and knew you all tried to provide comfort. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

Just US said...

I am so sorry for your loss! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.

Blog Designed by: NW Designs