The phone rang around 12 am, I wiped the sleep from my eyes ”hello” I said. A voice on the phone said ”Danielle…she’s…gone.” Time literally felt like it was standing still, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t breath! My brother was the voice on the phone and he was informing me that our mother had just passed. At that moment, I drove over to my childhood home with tears streaming down my face to meet my three older brothers and my younger sister. During that drive, I began to feel angry with God for taking my mother from me, “I still need her!” I yelled out loud to God. I was only 28 years old and I had three very young children who adored her and needed their grandmother! When I arrived, I felt sick to my stomach. As I walked to the room where she was lying, I remembered all the times I had walked down that hall to see her and imagined the big smile that she would greet me with when I would arrive. Instead, I was greeted with her still and lifeless body. She appeared so strange to me, like she wasn’t my mother anymore. The body before me was like a shell left behind and I felt as if she was looking down on all of us at that moment. I could feel her all around us for only a few moments and then she was gone. For a while we stood around staring at her. The room smelled of the sterilized hospital equipment that had taken up residence as well as the very familiar scent of Boost (The only thing we able to get my mom to eat was a vitamin drink called Boost… I will never forget the smell!). I leaned over to touch her and her skin felt cold; my warm and comfortable mother who had always smelled of soap and lotion was now an algid feeling mannequin.
At this point, the coroner arrived to take my mother’s body to the funeral home. I stood outside in the humid June morning air and watched as they wheeled her out tucked inside a body bag; the tears streamed down my face once more. “This can’t be happening!” I kept saying out loud. It was as though I was in some bad movie or watching someone else’s life fall apart and everyone was moving in slow motion! I had the most horrible and sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I had a mix of emotions at that moment, part of me wanted to rip my mother’s body off the gurney to keep them from taking her away from me and the other part wanted to run away from that scary shell of a body and hide and cry for hours, neither of which I did. As the hearse pulled away with my mother’s lifeless body my siblings and I sat separately throughout the house amid the deafening silence. It was a strange experience because I am one of five siblings and our house was always alive with noise and commotion of one sort or another growing up. All of us, except my younger sister, had moved out going our separate ways. Then my mom’s cancer took a turn for the worse and all of us practically moved back in for about two weeks before she died. The house was once again alive with commotion…until this abhorrent morning.
Meanwhile, arrangements were made, her last outfit had been chosen, in what felt like a fog and numbness of emotion at this point. Shortly after that my mother’s body arrived at the church and I remember seeing all of the make-up that had been applied by the funeral home and thinking that she would have been disgusted having never worn make-up a day in her life. Then my father, brothers, sister and myself all stood in a line next to my mother’s body as people streamed by. It felt like a movie where now, everything was moving lightning fast.
At any rate, many years have now passed (she died in 2007). I still feel the pain of her passing but what was once an unbearable pain that I thought would never go away, is now a low dull ache for times and memories gone bye. I still have set backs but healing is definitely happening, one step at a time. Along the way my brothers and I have become very close and my mother would be thrilled. I have learned that time really can heal all wounds; some things just take a little longer than others, and you need to be ready and willing to accept the healing.