Holding On

I found several photos with my mom and me, her arms holding on to me tightly.

Going to the nursing home daily was wearing on me and was so depressing, My mom didn’t know who I was and she mostly slept. Only patchy tufts of her hair remained. She was gaunt, emaciated. So, I stopped going every day.

Early in the month, in the middle of the night, the phone rang. It woke me up. I remember my bed was in front of the windows at the far end of my room, facing my bedroom door. After a few rings, I heard my dad answer it downstairs, I heard muffled words and within a few minutes, he was out the front door and driving away.

I rolled over, parted my green window blinds, and watched him go. I knew it wasn’t good and I was scared. I hadn’t seen my mom in a couple of days. My heart was pounding in my chest and I wanted to pray. But what should I pray for? I was blank.

Time passed. I can’t recall how much. I heard the car return. Within moments my dad came into my room and sat on the side of my bed. He told me my mom had died and then he collapsed forward in sobs. I was crying. I was trying to comfort my dad.

I was sad. I was scared. I felt like the parent giving comfort. I felt nauseous. After some time, my dad left, presumably to make phone calls.

I don’t remember if I fell asleep. I do remember coming downstairs later in the morning. My aunt and uncle were at the kitchen table. I think more people were there but I remember making eye contact with my aunt. Everyone was crying. Arrangements were being made.

At some point in the afternoon, my friend Fred came over. He was leaving the next day to go to his family’s farm with his dad. He wanted to see me because he would miss the funeral. It was so kind.

I remember my aunts commenting on how handsome he was. “No ladies, this isn’t my boyfriend.” Everyone thought he was so wonderful for coming. He was. Looking back, I can see how many incredible friends I had in my life and what a blessing each of them was to me.

The Dude was on a family vacation. In 1988, that meant I couldn’t reach him until he came back in town. So, I wrote him a letter that he could read when he got home, letting him know my mom died. It was a surreal letter to write and I was glad for some way to communicate with him. He wouldn’t be back from vacation until after her funeral.

My mom died on August 3. The visitation would be on August 5, my sister’s birthday, and the funeral on August 6. I was told I didn’t have anything appropriate to wear. On the 4th I went shopping with my brother, sister, and brother-in-law.

For the visitation, I bought a soft, blue, cotton, short-sleeved dress with a mock turtleneck, wide, black patent-leather belt, and of course, shoulder pads. I got a royal blue, silk, long-sleeved top with little black triangles on it to wear to the funeral with a black pencil skirt that fell below the knee. I was told my mom hated the black skirt I wore to my brother’s graduation so that was out. I actually never wore it again and man, I loved that skirt.

How I wished I could reverse roles and hold on tightly to my mom.









6 thoughts on “Holding On

  1. Oh Karen, so sad. Thank you for sharing and for being vulnerable. What a tender age to lose your mom; I’m so sorry for the you-child. Of course, this challenge helped create the badass you are today.

  2. Oh Karen. I wish I had been there for you. That day, that time, that journey. It was decades later before I lost my mother, but I understood loss, tragic loss, and I am sorry I wasn’t able to be one of your rocks.
    Grateful for you, our friendship, and the years between that still carry a woven thread that connects us.
    You are correct, reliving loss is vulnerable, but the pain will open room for light. And Karen, you already shine brightly. You carry your Mom’s light, her spark, her beauty. Lots of love to you my friend. xoxo

    1. Al, you were right there for me and so supportive. You are part of my next post. I will always be so thankful for you and am glad we are still friends!

  3. So touching, Karen. It’s hard to go back to those painful places and remember, isn’t it? 😢 I also remember exactly what I wore to the visitation for Chip and to the funeral. And like you, I never wore either of those dresses again…even tho’ (just like you) the dress I wore for the funeral service had always been one of my favorites. 😔 Thanks for sharing, friend. You are very brave. ❤️

    1. Kathy, I am so glad you’re reading and I truly appreciate that you have taken the time to comment here. I’m hoping to see you soon and maybe even grab a big hug. Love to you.

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