I have known that the day to write this blog was coming for almost a year now. It's not the physical time that has passed that makes it the time to write this blog but more of a milestone on the map of the emotional journey that grief has taken me on.
Having spent the last twenty four years as a military spouse stationed over five thousand miles away from home, I knew that inevitably there would come a telephone call that would change my life as I knew it. The cycle of life and tragedies are part of every one's life and there is no escaping them, try as we might. As a military dependent I was sensitive to those around me who received life altering news from home, and being human would wonder how when it came that news would affect me. Now I know all the wondering in the world cannot prepare you when it comes.
One year ago today I was told that they did not expect my mother to make it through the next three or four days and that I needed to get my family on an airplane and get from Honolulu, Hawaii to Buffalo, NY as soon as possible. Having the amazing husband that I have and SUBPAC Pearl Harbor being as wonderful as they are allowed my family to be in the air within four hours. No small feat since the end of the fiscal year money had already been shift to the new fiscal year accounts.
I remember getting on the airplane, with all of us scattered all over the plane and Brittany waiting in Honolulu for the next flight out. As the plane began to taxi and I had a chance to fully absorb all that was happening since that phone call came, I cannot tell a lie, I completely lost it. God had so graciously made sure that an Army Casualty Officer was sitting next to me, and was able to calm me down until Rick could work with the attendants to get my seat moved next to him. Once I hit the seat next to him I can honestly say that I don't remember the rest of the flight.
I remember touching down in Buffalo, NY and driving straight to the hospital. I know it was cold, but I don't remember. All I remember is walking in there and seeing my mother lying in the hospital bed. Prior to me getting out of Honolulu the doctor had shared with me that my mother had signed multiple documents to ensure that there would be no life support systems or life saving measures used. However, at the families request in her unconscious state the Hospice workers agreed with the family to assist her with receiving oxygen until we could all get there. Once we got Britt from the airport that evening my Dad, brother Ron my sisters Nicole and Amy, Britt, and Rick and I went to spend the night at the hospital.
This was Friday and at this point we had already been to the hospital twice, this being the third time. Every time we went we had to work through the shock of seeing her there, not speaking, not awake. Once we worked through that we would settle into a quiet, sad sort of groove with the natural jokes we have as a family. Then when it was time to leave we it was time to say goodbye to mom because we didn't know if we would ever have the chance again. This was emotionally draining and took all the energy I had, At this point there are days I am so tired, I swear I haven't recovered from it. It was at this time that Rick kept us focused. We had made an agreement that no one would be with mom by themselves, while the others left. We agreed that we would go in the morning, afternoon, and evening as a group. We would rest and eat in between. I am so thankful for my husband during those times when we considered staying all day or night. He reminded us of what we agreed to and was there to ensure that the doctors and nurses understood our concerns and supported all of us. I have to say I have an amazing family. My sister in law Jenn made sure we ate and had clean clothes, my brother in law Ben had kid duty, and my brother in law Tony made sure we had breakfast and coffee every morning. Despite the circumstances it was my family at its absolute best.
The morning my mom passed we went to go see her and did what we had been doing. Spent time with her and said good bye. The rest of the family was watching the Bills play because that's what mom would have wanted and Rick and I ran to the store. We were standing in the cold medicine aisle when Rick's phone rang. He took my basket out of my hands, put it on the floor, and led me out of the store and I knew. I knew that my mom was gone.