Mother’s day three years back was perhaps the hardest day of my life to date.
My grandma had been in failing health almost my entire young life, but I never saw her as sick. For you see this woman was a bit out of the ordinary. She not only helped raise a large amount of children, but she also survived pancriatic cancer. She was diagnosed when I was in the fourth grade, and by freshman year she was told to stop coming up for scans, she was completely cancer free. The woman was tough as nails, she was notorious for her martini at dinner and her constant habit of smoking a pack a day. There was rarely a dinner where my grandmother didn’t have a cigarrette in one hand a drink not far from the other.
Alas, life catches up with all of us. Her lungs were chared black for years, her kidneys were pickled and her heart was full. As my sister and I drove to what I thought was just “one of the last visits” we recieved a call from my mother. “We’re waiting on you two to pull the plug. Come to the city now.” We were already half way there, from what now was the final goodbye. My mother greeted me at the door and I tried to tell her “Happy Mother’s Day,” but words seemed to fil in this situation. I hugged her and felt the downward tug in my stomach as tears started to fall on the strongest woman I know.
The rests of my family was no better. My uncles who normally have their faces decorated with smiles and laughter had instead the tear stained cheeks. All of their eyes looked hollow. More and more family started to fill the hallways the closer we got. We were a small parade of a family. A few close neighbors and just as family as my own blood had gathered offering comfort. My stomach fell and my hands started to shake. “Who are we waiting on now” the whispers filled the waiting room. No one should misss the chance to say some finals words. My family all started to gather around the bed. In true family fashion we could send no cook out without Three cheers, nor could we ever let a Notre Dame fan leave with out one more melody.
Cheer, Cheer for ol’ Notre Dame. Wake up the echo’s cheering her name.
There lay my grandmother, or what was left of her. In part I believe she watched from somewhere else. I beleive that she had already started the climb up, but by still being somewhat present it was a direct line to her better place. Once all of us had arrived we compiled into the room and waited. Slowly the tears started to fall and my body started to shake. It seems unfair to have the invincible die. Thoughts filled my head like no other, the images of my uncles, aunts, and cousins burned into my head. Each of us were left to start walking alone and find our way back.
My own mother had broken that day. I can remember her questions to her brothers, “How can I ever go on?” How could I go on with out you I wondered. The strength of your own mother will surprise you to no other. It gives you pride to say you are a part of a family, it gives you more than I reason of being part of a family, but a legacy. Thats how it’s always felt in my family.
I held my dying grandmother’s hand and I missed her death by moments. I had left the room exhausted and unsure of which direction to go, but my mother had been holding tight to her hand taking care of her till the very end. It is in that moment that gives my mother a little comfort, but it is the void that gives all of us a little less direction in our lives and a little more uncertianty.
In an Irish Catholic way the funeral was shortly after, filled with things like bag pippers, prayers, and psalms. And he will raise you up, on Eagle’s wings. Bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun. And hold you in the palm of his hand.
My life since then has been… chaotic, spiratic, filled, empty, long, and lost. Let me take this time to talk about my mother. She went through extreme depression after she lost her mother and there is no blame in that, for I can only imagine a life with out her. What I can say is, my mother in part reflects some of the best in my grandmother. My mother is a loving person and very easy to get a long with, at times. I have since grown to know and lover her flaws and her characteristics. I am proud to be as much a part of her as I am my grandmother.
After that day though, neither of us were fine. None of us were the same. My brother asked me to drive home with him and that car ride was perhaps the most comfort I recieved in the weeks to come. It is in what to come that tried my life more, and it is in the moments after this car ride that tore my life apart.
One movement at a time.