I thought she would always be here.
She was there in the beginning, teaching me to speak, eat, to potty. She was there through elementary school, through the angst of the teenage years and the rebellion of high school. She was there during the first attempts at self-sustentation; providing advice, support, and a new set of pans from the Salvation Army when I moved in to my first apartment.
Through break-ups and make-ups; heartbreaks and triumphs; hirings and firings. I moved away from home, I moved back home and moved out again. Through marriage, childbirth and divorce, she was there for all of it. Through sickness and health, for better for worse.
We were phone addicts and email junkies. We shared a job, resources and holidays. We shared a twisted and hysterical sense of humor that no one else understood. Shopping expeditions to the dollar stores; expertly negotiating garages sales and thrift shops. We shared a love for the written word, reality T.V. shows and we understood each other in a way that never made it to words. She knew just when I needed a phone call, and I knew when she needed an update on what was going on in my wacky world. I could make her laugh until she peed, farted or gigglesnorted – and she did the same thing for me.
Sunday dinners, holiday celebrations – she was there for them all, either physically or in spirit with gift boxes, funny cards or phone calls. We laughed, gossiped, commiserated and conjectured. We cried, bitched, and moaned, gave advice and listened to each other. We solved the problems of the universe, re-arranged the family dynamics and between the two of us, re-structured the government to where it actually worked right.
I thought she would always be here.
After the diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer, I still thought that way. My mother was a tough cookie; divorced and a single mom before the statistics soared, active in the community “little theater” and the mother of five unique and challenging children. A little thing like breast cancer couldn’t take her from us – I used to tell her she was much meaner and tougher than cancer.
She declined to wear the fake wigs, and stuck with whimsical hats or a proudly bald head. When she had bad days, she stayed to herself, and when she had good days she would blog, shop and take phone calls or visits from loved ones.
She beat it the first time. She tried to beat it the second time, because it was very important for her to make to the birth of her first great-grandchild. She was so excited for that – she was so excited. She made it to the baby shower, where my daughter gifted her with framed photographs of the sonogram. She played the silly shower games, beaming the whole time, in spite of her fragile state and physical weariness from chemotherapy. She visited and giggled, with her beautiful bald head shining and even more beautiful spirit shining brighter.
She battled like a titan – and lost, just two weeks before the birth.
So many times I pick up the phone to call her and razz her about John Edwards being a fake; the latest drama on one of the reality shows we watched; to tell her the latest news about the baby and his progress. So many times I pick up the phone to call and ask her a question about something only my mother would know, only to gently close the phone and cry. I miss her, although I know she was tired and I know she was ready to go. I’m angry that she wasn’t granted just those two weeks, to hold the precious baby she was so excited to meet, although I know she’s in a better place, out of pain, and reunited with the people she loved so much that passed before her.
My world is not the same. It will never be the same, and I’m struggling to reconcile the difference. I’m struggling to make sense of what’s left. I’m struggling not to be angry and bitter, and I’m struggling with the fact that she’s not here.
Because I thought she would always be here.