7 stages  

When I was a newlywed, I begged my mom to stop smoking. I’d rather die young than quit smoking. Those words stung like no other. I quit begging and began the 7 stages of grief preparing for the inevitable. Anger. Several years later, she was walking with her firstborn grandson who was 4, and she said, Jakers, Grandma’s going to quit smoking.  And she did. She finally  had the motivation. She was scared. She knew something was wrong. She may have gone through denial, but I skipped that stage. I bargained. I read about her diagnosis. With treatment,  the life expectancy could be 10 years. I’ll take it. If we could just have 10 more years…. it wasn’t always easy. There were definitely struggles. My dad did everything possible to make life more comfortable, easier and worth living. Mom gave it a little effort for awhile to eat healthier and exercise. It was short lived. There were trips to Disney. Mom was on the verge of pneumonia, but I didn’t know until we were in the air. I pushed her in a wheelchair every inch of the way. She made 3 trips with each daughter and her grandkids, but by the 4th year, she couldn’t go with my brother’s family. There were hospitalizations and oxygen and things she longed to still do. There was assistance, ambulances and accommodations.  It was years before she actually died that I had sadness for the way it was and our new normal. I boo hoo bawled at losing my mother long before she actually died. She eventually became a prisoner of her body and required assistance for everything. She lived in the hospital for 3 years. We accepted this and made the most of it. My dad and I visited multiple times a day, and family dinners were now in the hospital cafeteria. For a little while she had a second family. She wanted to live. She wanted to go shopping, to ball games and Florida.  Occasionally my dad, sister and I would take her places. If this is her last day on earth, we know she was happier because we went somewhere. The worst day of my life was the day I had to tell her that Jake was in the hospital. I never dreamed he’d be sick so long. I had to explain where I’d been because it wasn’t with her. She cried and asked what she could do. Pray, Mom. Pray for Jake. My sister still has the voice message she left, so distraught over Jake. I saw the life leave her. Jake got sick October 23rd and she died December 23rd. After her visitation, we took Jake to the ER where we sat all night until he was admitted. A family friend came to get me for her funeral. I didn’t cry. I had gone through the stages of grief.  I was at acceptance. At peace. I keep waiting to break down, but I haven’t yet. Of course I miss her and about everyday there is something I want to tell her. Periodically my phone will butt dial her. Twice, once when I was pushing Jake in her wheelchair, I have literally felt a hug around my back and shoulders. It was her. I consider myself lucky. I had her for 14 more years, not 10. My dad learned to live alone and cook and do laundry while she was still living. He could go tell her about frying potatoes for the first time. We always had laughter. I was with her when she died. Earlier in the evening, they suggested that I tell her it was ok to go. It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t change anything. I have no guilt, no regrets. I miss her, but I am thankful for that extra time and being able to go through my grief with her…

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