When I was a little girl, I used to worry about losing my mom and dad. I realize now that these worries were bringing my empath nature to light. I remember having such anxiety about being apart from my mom when I was in elementary school. Any time I was sitting in class or out on the playground, if I would hear sirens or an ambulance I immediately worried that something had happened to my mom. Why? I really don’t know the root of this anxiety. Maybe it has something to do with being the youngest child. Often times when I would hear the sirens, I would tell my teacher that I didn’t feel good and she would send me to the nurse. In turn, the nurse would call my mom and then once I heard my mom’s voice, I was better. Not that I was really feeling sick in the first place, but I needed to make sure my mom was alright. I wouldn’t make it a long drawn out story of my ailments, I would usually say that I had a headache and she would ask if it was bad enough that she needed to come get me or if I could make it through the day. Majority of the time I could make it to the end of the day.
I was accepted to Meredith University for dance/choreography and I never attended after graduating from high school in 1997. I didn’t want to leave my mom. She urged me to attend and said that we would figure out the financial aid and paying for that form of education. My heart changed my mind and I didn’t attend. My spirit knew something was wrong with her and that she was sick. I do not regret staying behind in my hometown and being there through a rough two years toward her passing. I would have regretted not being there when she passed. Carlleena urged me to go as well because her plans were to join the Air Force at that time. Crazy how things changed and it makes me wonder if my action shifted the whole paradigm of not only my life but the lives of others. I remember mom telling me a few times throughout our lives that when she dies, the earrings she wears will be mine. They were her grandmothers and she inherited them when her grandmother died. They are simple, elegant diamond studs. I always admired them and the power behind the notion that they were the only earrings my mom ever wore.
On October 18, 1999, my mom passed away. She was 47. She had not been feeling well for quite a few days before her death. Once I learned that she was in the hospital, I called her and she sounded calm over the phone and she insisted that she was ok and the doctors were waiting on test results. I was 20 at this time and lived with my mom still in the house that helped build me. Carlleena was staying with me most nights during that time and when I got home from work that evening my gut told me to go to the hospital and check on mom. Carlleena was hesitant to let me go because there was an impending tropical storm Irene off the coast of NC at that time. It was messy outside with downpour and gusty wind. I drove to the hospital by myself, as I wanted to go alone. Carlleena was furious for that moment until I returned home safely a couple hours later. My mom didn’t have any real news from the doctors when I showed up. She was resting comfortably and was slightly upset that I drove in the downpour to see that she was ok. I told her I only get one of you so I had to see for myself that you were ok. She chuckled a bit and smiled. We didn’t say much and I exchanged forced pleasantries with her boyfriend who was there visiting. I tried to mother her and find the one thing she needed that I could get for her. There was nothing she physically needed. We exchanged I love you’s and kisses on the cheek. I hung out in the hall way pacing for another 30-45 minutes before I actually left the hospital.
The next morning I received a phone call early and the voice on the other line is a nurse from the hospital telling me that my mother’s heart has stopped and they have resuscitated her and she is on a breathing machine and someone needs to get here right away. What?!?!?!!? I was panicked…I tried to call my oldest sister, Laurie and couldn’t reach her. I called my sister Becky who lived 45 minutes away at the time. She was on her way to the hospital. Carlleena and I drove to Laurie’s house to tell her the news since we couldn’t reach her by phone. I assumed she would ride with us but she drove separately and she ended up making it to the hospital before we did. I’m still not sure how she managed to make it there before us. There was a little waiting room for family and I remember the nurse coming in and handing me all of mom’s jewelry. I’m sure I looked dumbfounded as to why she had taken the jewelry off. In my heart my mom was going to be fine and wake up…My heart wouldn’t let me put the puzzle together completely. My mind knew otherwise but the two were not meeting in the middle. There was a stranger sitting a few seats away and she told me that it isn’t usually a good sign when they bring you the jewelry. I listened to her story about how she felt when they brought her the wedding band from her husbands hand many years ago. I’m sure I cried a little bit for her too that day. I walked around outside and when I came around the corner to where my mom’s room was, Laurie and Becky were hugging and crying and trying to console each other. I screamed NO with all my might and let my breathless self be anchored to the floor, sobbing and screaming for my mom as if my cry could make that moment my time machine and change it all! Anyone standing nearby stopped and stared. The majority of the rest of that day is a blur for the most part. I don’t think we have ever hugged our dad so tightly when he flew in from the west coast. Though my mom and Dad had only been divorced a few years, they went to high school together and were married 25+ years! I remember friends and family stopping by to express condolences. Philip was one of them and that was actually the last time I saw or spoke to him until 2016.
I remember being the one to volunteer to pick Mikey up from school that day. To delay the pain in him learning that his Granny had passed away, we made a stop to clean out my car. Completely random and I’m not sure it really even needed to be cleaned. He liked to help me clean my car though. Nikki was in pre K and I remember watching Laurie give Nikki a big hug when we picked her up, unaware of what her mother had just endured hours before. I guess although I’ve always been preparing my whole life at that point for my mom to be taken from earth, I truly wasn’t expecting that heartbreak that soon. None of us were. My mom died of Pneumonia with Septic Shock although her health was failing for many years prior. Death isn’t something you can prepare for even though you may be aware of the impending fate. Maybe that’s what they mean by the saying “expect the unexpected.” She has been gone for 18 years. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her or wish for her to visit in my dreams.
My mom’s earrings are the only earrings I ever wear. To wear anything else makes me feel like I am missing something much more grandiose than my memories can replay.