Tuesday, February 2, 2010

14 Years

Today is the day my mom died. It was 14 years ago - February 2, 1996.

We were all there when it happened, but Jeff, my sister and I barely made it. Jeff and I had driven like mad to the high school to get my sister. The nurse told us it was going to happen soon. I said, "T needs to be here." There was quick discussion about who should go. Jeff offered but didn't really know how to get to the school. I went with him.

I remember standing at the counter in the high school office. The secretary was on the phone. I was desperate. This, I thought, is the one time that it is okay to be rude. I practically shouted at the secretary, "Excuse me! We need to get T out of her class immediately!" I often wonder what that must have been like for T, to be in that particular class, knowing that mom might die any day, and then to be paged in front of the entire class to come to the office.

We frantically drove back to the hospital. I remember thinking that this might also be the one time that it is okay to park in the no-parking zone. But we didn't. We found a spot and ran through the halls of the hospital to get to the room.

Everyone else was there - dad, A, poppa and grandma. We rushed in and surrounded the bed. I think I even asked if she was gone. She wasn't. It was like she waited for us to get there. She knew I wanted to be there.

Minutes later, maybe even less than a minute after we got there, I saw her take her last breath.

The moments after are a blur. We all stood there, crying, wondering what to do next. Are we sure she is gone? The nurse was called in to verify. Yes, she's gone. Just like that.

I still struggle with that aspect of death. She was just alive, seconds ago, and now she is not. How can that be? What is it like for someone minutes or seconds before they die? I could drive myself crazy thinking about it.

At some point we all left the hospital. We got back to the house and just sat around. What do people do in times like this? We ended up ordering subs for dinner. Jeff and I went uptown to pick them up and we got a movie. When I told the woman at the video store my last name, she instantly looked up and told me the movie was free. She was sorry, she said. Only hours after my mom died and already other people knew about it. I hadn't even phoned one person yet to tell them. News travels fast in a small town.

We all sat and watched the movie but I am sure that no one was really watching it. We just didn't know what else to do and I don't think we really wanted to be alone or talk to one another. Sitting in front of a movie seemed the best thing.

We somehow got through the next few days, doing all the things that need to be done when someone dies. Arranging the funeral, calling people, putting an announcement up at the post office. I had to contact all of my professors and let them know what was going on. This all happened during the time that I was to do my two-week teaching practicum. I had to do that practicum later on during reading week to make up for it.

My dad sent me back to UBC a week later. I wanted to stay home longer but he said we must all get back to our lives. We can't mope around. I suppose he was right. I somehow continued on with school, my practicum, my part-time job.

Life does go on. And on. And here it is, 14 years later, and my life has gone on without my mom.

I often wonder what my life would be like if she were still in it. I am sure that I would find her annoying or over-bearing at times. I am sure that sometimes I would think her advice was not very helpful. But I also think I would cherish and appreciate her and all of her parenting wisdom. That is what I miss. I miss not having my own mom to ask when I don't know what to do, when I think I am going to lose my mind over something one of the kids has done.

It would be so nice to just be able to pick up the phone and call her. Or see her. Or hug her. I wish I could.


  1. Wow, you must of been soooo young.

    That beautifully written. I'm sure your mom is very proud.

  2. Tears for you. Yes my mum overbearing and annoying at times (like I am sure I will be one day to my kids....no surely not:) ) but after coming close to losing mum to endometrial cancer you really do appreciate them being around and try to not take them for granted. Thanks for a much needed reminder to tell and show that I love and appreciate my mum more

  3. i am sitting here, crying at the computer, wishing i could give you a hug. i watched my father in law die. i was the only one to see his last breath. and while it isn't the same as losing your mom as a young woman who is barely an adult, i can begin to understand the sadness and oddness those moments bring.

    i am not religious, but i believe that those who knew us and died are still around watching. i believe my father in law knows my son even though my son doesn't know him. i believe the same is true of your mom and your kids and she is proud of you.


  4. That is so sad Trish. I aspire to be the person my mother is but know I'll never make it. My mother would do anything (the lone exception being flying to Canada) for one of her kids or grandkids, as I'm sure your mum would have too. You can just follow her lead as best as you can.


  5. Brought tears to my eyes... in my office at work, no less. Yes, it's all a blur to me. I remember the movie we watched was Frankenstein. Was OK until his bride died in the movie. Talk about awkward.

    Love you

  6. wow. Tricia hon. i'm so sorry i missed this yesterday. this took courage for you to type (especially with shaking hands). but obviously, you needed to type it all out - even if you hadn't published it, you needed to walk yourself through this memory and ask the questions about it you wanted to ask and work your way through it again. Again, your honesty astounds me - especially admitting at the end that you'd likely be frustrated by her at times were she still around. you are quite an amazing, insightful woman. you probably get that from your mum. you've inherited more wisdom than you realize - she may not be around, but your wisdom is maybe coming from her unseen whispers. i hope you feel her hugs still, cuz i'm sure she's close. (((hug)))

  7. I thought... "I haven't read Tricia's blog for a while, that would be a fun thing to do!" I love to read your blog... Now I'm sitting here bawling. What a beautiful, and sad, and loving account of the last moments of your Mom's life. I know that, if your Mom was still alive, you'd have a close relationship with her. She sounds like a wonderful woman... just as you are. I bet you're a lot like her. You help me to appreciate my own Mom. Thank you for that Trish. I love you! Tyandra

  8. Thank you for sharing this story Tricia...I'm sure your children will appreciate having this record of how you felt. I've wondered before about how my mum felt when her mum died...but havn't really asked.

    Tricia x