Not Ready

I don't know if I can adequately describe everything that I was feeling or that was in my head for those first few days after The Phone Call.

There was an awful lot of crying. Sobbing, actually, which is quite different than standard, everyday tears. Gives me what I can only assume are migraines - I am not prone to them under normal circumstances but crying a lot pretty much always induces the worst headaches I ever experience. And this one was a whopper.

I know how old mom was. But this reality was just not something I was prepared for. At all. Both my parents were always so ... them... and active and engaged... I had simply decided that they would both be sticking around for a couple more decades. Period. I wasn't allowing for any other possibility. That's not to say that I didn't think about it every now and then, but as I mentioned before, those thoughts were always pushed back in to the "yes, that would be horrible but it's just not going to happen" closet of my brain. So basically I was in denial even before anything happened.

Elisabeth Kubler Ross can bite me.

I guess that being their daughter, having those parents, has been such a big part of my identity, at least my self-indentity for a long time. I couldn't imagine any part of that being lost.

This was my mom. My literal connection to this planet, the reason I am here at all.

And one of the best friends I'd ever had.


I don't think I was ever really conscious of that until much more recently.

My mom and I had our ups and downs as I assume most mother-daughter relationships do, but mostly ups. And the "downs" were never very serious. For the most part, I loved all of the time we ever spent together. I loved going to visit her, both before and after I had my own kids, and always loved it when she came to to visit me/us.

We had adventures, my mom and I.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has listened to nothing but classical music and opera. That includes when she could only have been in her 30's, because that's all I can remember hearing when she would put music on. Apparently she had a little thing for Johnny Cash, but, I don't remember her ever playing anything of his.

So imagine my surprise when she wanted to come with me to a David Bowie concert in 1987 - the Glass Spider tour. I'd already seen him in '83 with a friend but he was coming back through town and mom wanted to see him. So we went. I am not 100% certain, but I am pretty sure that was the only rock concert my mom ever attended in her entire life.

I moved back home for a couple of years while I was planning a return to school to get a Masters degree. I was working full time, but living with my mom to save money - I paid rent, but nothing like what I would have had to otherwise. I think many people would have found that difficult after being on their own for 6 years already, but I think mom had a harder time adjusting to a grown-up me living with her than I had being back under her roof.

When it was time for me to move to Houston - where I'd chosen to do my graduate studies - mom decided to come along for the ride. I was driving from Vancouver, BC to Houston, TX with whatever was going to fit in my little Mazda 323. This was back in 1991 when Cops and America's Most Wanted were just hitting their stride, and I was not excited about the prospect of making the journey alone. None of my friends could get the time off of work to come along, and since I was driving and keeping my car with me, any companion would have had to fly one-way back.

Mom really wanted to come. She got all of her maps and guide books out and plotted our course. She was not a huge fan of driving so I did all of it, but at least I had company - I was 26 so she would have been 54. We stayed in Missoula, MT, Casper, WY, Pueblo, CO, Wichita Falls, TX,  then we arrived in Houston. Along the way we fell in love with the other-worldly beauty of Bozeman; marveled at the vast and rugged emptiness of WY (seriously, we didn't see a single human in Wyoming until we actually got to Casper - which was half way through the state); wondered why we thought driving through Denver was a good idea; enjoyed a spectacular thunderstorm from a distance in Pueblo; regretted that the only bit of New Mexico we would see was the top corner we cut across on the way in to Texas; concluded with similar horror that the reason bugs were no longer hitting the windshield in Texas was because they were too damn big to fly and were WALKING on the road instead - which also explained the crunching noise; decided armadillos were probably cute but since all we had to go on were dead ones, we couldn't be sure; the soft-serve we had at a Dairy Queen somewhere in the Panhandle on a brutally hot day (it was August) after a long drive in a car without A/C was, in fact, the best we'd ever had; and had we known that the hotel we chose in Wichita Falls was where many of the participants in the Hotter'n Hell 100 were also staying, we probably would have gone somewhere else.

Despite the lack of A/C and a decent stereo (it was my first car, shut up), it was such a cool trip. Well, except maybe the part where I thought someone had kidnapped mom from a McDonald's parking lot just outside of Boulder...

Ahem. Too much America's Most Wanted


This couldn't be happening. How could it be happening?

It was too much. I didn't want to lose her. I didn't want the kids to lose her. We all have so much life left and I wanted/needed mom to be a part of it.

I know at the time there wasn't much information to go on. At that point all I knew was that there was a large tumor. And that mom really wasn't interested in chemo.

You don't really need more than that to know what we were facing, though.

And I wasn't ready.

That's all I could say to my love as he held me while I sobbed... "I'm not ready, I'm not ready to let her go... "

"You'll never be ready, love."

Was his gentle whisper back, filled with more truth than anything I've ever heard.