My Mom died a couple days ago. It was ok, it is ok. She was ready and it had not been good for a while. She regularly said, referring to herself of course, “Some people just live too long.” She had outlived her husband, much of her family and nearly all of her friends. She had lived with heartache for too long. She had three different terminal illnesses and couldn’t get around very well anymore. It was sad. But now she’s free, and that’s ok. Maybe better than that. Maybe even good.
We had a nice period of time to say goodbye, her family, our family. We visited, asked questions, and laughed. It was good. It is good. And I was able to be supportive without making it about me. That’s a pretty big deal for an alcoholic of my type. An untreated me would have felt immensely sorry for myself, tried (intentionally or not) to bring the attention back to me, and in so doing, made it worse. A spiritual mentor of mine likes to say, “Don’t screw it up for anyone else,” and I didn’t, and I am grateful for that. Recovery gave me that.
Recovery gave me the ability to think ahead, outside of the current situation. I’ve mentioned before how, when faced with a difficult situation, I like to ask myself “How would ‘future me’ like to look back on my behavior in this time?” What action can I take now that I will be proud of in 5 years, or longer. Being in recovery allowed me to be by my Dad’s side when he died. It was good. In fact, that memory is one of my proudest moments. To be able to tell my Dad, truthfully, that we were going to be ok, that we were ok. That it was alright for him to go and that I would be there for his Wife and Family. That he had done a good job and that I loved him. And to hold him while he gently slipped away.
I told my kids this story in regards to their Grandma. The “Future Me” story. They are young enough that part of me still wants to shield them from these realities, but old enough to start making these choices on their own. I told them I would not begrudge them a bit if they wanted to stay away from Grandma’s death bed, but suggested they ask themselves how “Future Them” would want them to behave now. And they both chose to be there, with the family, with Grandma. I was so proud of them, I am so proud. It was hard, but as Brene Brown says, “We can do hard things.”
Death is inevitable for all living things. So, in my opinion, we should strive to live as well as we can, love as well as we can. One of the questions my Mom was asked, towards the end was “Do you have any regrets?” Mom thought for quite a while and replied, “No, I don’t.” How many of us will be able to say that?
So she died, surrounded by her family, at home… and it’s ok, maybe even better than that. I love you Mom, thanks for everything.