Because tomorrow is my last night here in Houston (not forever, just for this trip).
Tomorrow night, even though I will have lots on my mind, I know I will be frantically packing.
When we made these reservations to come, I envisioned an entirely different kind of summer. My mom would be having chemo (which she tolerated pretty well). There would be some rough days, but there would also be good days. We had planned to teach the girls some sewing. We had planned to do some swimming -- after all she had finally gotten rid of those PICC lines and now had a portacath that she could swim with. We were coming on June 29th and staying until August 9th. It sounded so long and crazy and fun. It meant that Trent and I would have to be apart for four weeks. He would fly down with us, stay for 2 weeks and then fly back to CT. Then at the end he would come back for the last little bit and then we would all fly home together. My kids were going to make memories with my mother that would last them a lifetime. This was going to be a special summer.
I don't really have words to describe the day. . . the day I realized that this summer was not going to be-- when my dad called on Tuesday, May 31st. My mom was in surgery that day and it was going to be a long surgery. They were going to reroute her bowels and work their magic and she could start another round of chemo. My dad's phone call came much, much too early and all he had to say was, "the surgery is done. there was nothing they could do. the cancer was much much more worse than they had anticipated."
My beautiful, wonderful, spend all day with my mother summer of dreams died right at that moment.
I was able to come June 8th for a week (just me and Owen). It was a great week. My mom and I did so much. We sewed and talked and organized. She looked right at me and said, "Please, stay the summer. Stay no matter what happens. Stay for Tyler. Stay for Daddy." And that is what we did. We stayed. We stayed for lots of reasons. Mostly we stayed for me.
Going home on June 14th was tough. My mom seemed so full of life that even though her strength was deteriorating it just didn't seem possible that the end was near.
Once I got home, I knew we needed to move up our arrival date. The kids and I flew out on the morning of June 23 and Trent followed the very next day. I have already written some about those days that followed, and maybe someday I'll be able to write more, but not today.
My mom passed away on the day we had originally planned to come, June 29th.
And now it has been 47 days since I came to Houston. The highest of highs with all of us being together there to support each other and be with mom at the end; being able to welcome my sister's new little baby named after my mother; to the lowest of lows -- seeing my mom's body laying there on her bed and knowing she was now gone, walking through her home knowing she will not return.
I just tried to fill her house, but it was like filling a bucket with holes. I cooked what she would cook. I cleaned up like she would. I took care of her pool like she would. I tried to help my kids experience so much of her. I read them the stories she would read to me. (and cried a lot reading them). I helped Tyler with his room like she would have. I read her books. I studied her things. I sewed on her machines. I checked her email. I could almost convince myself that she was just on a little trip and any minute she would come through the door and I would show her all that we were doing.
I can't tell you how many times I thought to go pick up the phone and let her know something about our day.
I stayed all summer because I needed it. I needed to feel her love by being in her home. I needed it to feel "normal" as if she was really just out running an errand.
It was tough on Trent. He did not really enjoy 4 weeks of "bachelorhood". The kids and I missed him so much. For us the time passed so quickly. (for him not so much). It made me feel in just the slightest way something of what my dad must be going through. Marriage forever changes you. It is about taking two people and becoming one. My dad wrote in an email (and I am paraphrasing it here). That perhaps on the wedding day a couple moves from being 2 to being 1.99 and each day in their marriage moves them a little closer to becoming 1. My parents had 36 years of a wonderful marriage and who knows what number they finally reached -- 1.4? 1.3?? 1.1??? But this I know, that upon death, to be separated leaves you no longer whole. If you were at 1.4, when one of you dies you are left at .7 -- because a part of you dies too. There is a loss that words cannot describe (I am not sure math can entirely describe it either). The more united in marriage the greater the loss.
Tomorrow, Trent and I celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. We are still busy in the process of becoming 1. I don't know where we are on that road, but I do know that this summer provided a bit of an acceleration. We are better together. Marriage is hard work and some days are better than others, but I am so completely happy to be married to Trent. I have learned so much about marriage, love, and support as I watched my parents this past year. I am grateful for these lessons. I just hope I can remember them (which is why I write them down).
What a summer it has been! I'll never forget it that's for sure.
We finished off the summer with Amber and Dan blessing their new sweet baby Candace today. She wore a dress that Amber sewed ALL BY HERSELF. I don't know if Amber or I had ever really sewed anything all by ourselves. My mom was always there to help interpret the pattern, help adjust the fit, and often would take the cut pattern pieces and send us home to tend to our busy kids and when we would return the next day it would be all sewn just ready for us to finish off the hem. (my mom never did like cutting out the patterns or finishing the hems). It was a great system we had. I would sew "just enough" to claim that I did it. I would learn how to do it. But the actual finding the time with small kids to do all the actual sewing was where my mom worked her magic.
I sure miss you mom. We all do. Each day still hurts my heart and part of me never wants that hurt to stop.