My as-close-to-perfect-as-a-mortal-can-get mother passed away on Monday September 3 at around 11:15 am. This post is to share feelings and memories of the time shortly before and the time just after her passing.
Friday August 31
This was the day I last saw my mother in her paralyzed body. Wolf and I went on an old people date. An old people date is the kind of date where you go out to dinner just after 5:00, scrutinize the list of every movie at the theater, and decide just to go home. On our way back to Orem from American Fork, I remembered I needed to pick up something from my parents' house. I am now so thankful we stopped by. We entered their computer room to find a usual scene: my mother was in the reclining green chair that she spent most her time; my father was seated on a love seat next to her, holding her hand; and Michael was next to my dad with his iPad in hand. They were playing out a stereotypical Friday evening. Friday night brought date night for my parents. This meant a movie was playing and they were holding hands. My father always held her hand if he was next to her. Wolf and I stayed for thirty minutes, chatting and watching part of The Princess Bride. I gave my love to my mother and told her how much I love teaching. The only words she uttered to me were to repeat some words my father spoke. I left her with an embrace and a kiss.
Saturday September 1
I thought of my mother in brief intervals. My day was spent making bows, grading papers, and enjoying time with three of my original best friends back in the day when they used to all live less than a three minute walk from my house. We ran into my old next door neighbor at the restaurant of our choosing. She asked about my mother (as all friends of the family did) and I replied that I would not be surprised if she passed away soon.
Sunday September 2
Wolf and I had a discussion. We tried to figure out what our procedure would be if my mother passed away. Wolf was debating whether or not to call me if she passed during the school day. I realized that I had not signed up for the Alpine District sub service. I would have no way of calling for a sub if I needed one. I determined to talk to my principal about what to do if I received the news during a school day and sign up for sub services the Tuesday school resumed.
Monday September 3
I awoke to an email my father sent in the wee hours of the morning. He mentioned that Mom seemed to have a cold--something she had been blessed with not received for many years. He sent a copy of her obituary that we had been working on for several years to see if there were any revisions we could suggest. I set it aside for the moment and determined to have a long visit with her later in the day.
Wolf, Angi, and I met up for a late breakfast of crepes in Provo. Because it took the employees way too long to get us our food, we had a nice discussion about life and random topics. After we finished eating and went to our cars, it was 11:45. We talked about what we were going to do in case of her passing. I mentioned to Angi that it would be nice for me to finish up my school day, but I would like to be home for Michael's sake. As we parted ways, I gave a prophetic statement. "Well, I might see you later this week at a funeral." I now feel ridiculous and slightly calloused for uttering that remark.
I had my phone in a loose skirt so I could not feel any vibration during our meal. As Wolf and I drove up the University Parkway hill, Wolf received a phone call. I did not know who it was, but as he answered it, I heard a girl in hysterics on the other line. After speaking for a few seconds, he roughly told me to turn around. He hung up and my heart stopped for a second. I was worried that Angi had gotten in a car accident or something (even though she had all of 200 yards to drive). "Your mother has stopped breathing."
At that moment I guess it did not impact me yet that she was dead. We had a couple close calls this summer that brought screaming police cars and ambulances to our house. Wolf asked me once or twice if I would like him to drive. I felt numbness and anxiety. We stopped by Angi's apartment. She was still in her car, sobbing. I finally looked at my phone to realize I had missed several calls and texts. Whoops. As I cursed all the road construction being done on University Avenue, we called Michael. He confirmed that she had passed. I do not remember the rest of the drive.
We pulled up to my dad's house and rushed inside to the thick feeling--and smell--of death. Wolf and I went into the study. Angi opted to stand in the doorway, out of sight of the body. Tim's family and Maria beat us to the house so there was already a small gathering of people. It really is a testament to me how different a body looks without its soul. Even in my mother's case. She was trapped in a body that did not work anymore and now that she was gone, her body looked no more than an empty shell. She was free.
Eventually, Matt's family arrived and all of us that live in Utah were gathered. The day flew by. we reminisced planned, and tears were shed. Some of her best friends dropped by to give condolences. Gentlemen from the mortuary eventually arrived in a red SUV to pick up her body. Her wheelchair was eventually moved and the green recliner she usually sat in was left untouched the rest of the day. It still held her air padding and an old fleece blanket with cats on it that Michael or Angi made years ago.
Tricia thought of food, something I had completely forgotten about. We ate Zupa's outside as we went over the plan we made for her funeral three years ago.
As I went home that evening, I looked at my plan book for Tuesday. Nearly blank. I quickly planned a days worth of lessons and went to bed, still numb.
Sleep was a rare commodity for me the rest of the week.