Preparing for loss

I’m at a loss. I am terrible at comforting people. I’m the girl who asks one of my best friends “how are you?” when her mom just passed away. Who does that? Me, apparently. Because what do you say? What do you say to someone who just watched their world shatter to pieces?

Her and I were going through something similar. I prayed we both would keep our moms. I prayed that neither of us would have to lose the person that matters most to us so young, in our mid-twenties. Life is not fair. Life is a big, horrible bitch sometimes.

I’ve thought a lot about what I’ll do when my mom dies. I still don’t know if I should say when or if, but have starting saying when, hoping maybe it will be easier in the long run, getting used to the idea of nothing lasting forever. When she dies, I will be everything for my Dad, my brother & Jude.

And then, I’ll leave.

It won’t be immediate, because things like leaving don’t happen fast, but first, I’ll take a trip, alone. I’ll spend a week, maybe two or three, traveling Europe, but mostly go back to Vienna, a place that will always feel like home. Then, I’ll come back here and the memories will hurt too much, and I’ll leave and I won’t come back. I don’t know how far I’ll go, but I won’t stay in this town. I won’t be able to. Everything will hurt.

My mom said to me shortly after the second diagnosis: I never thought I’d die in this house.

My mom’s dream was to have a house on the ocean she’d retire to and she has yet to get that dream. Maybe I’ll go to the ocean then, knowing she will be there too.

My mom stared at me in wonder when we got into the rental car in Nashville, carefully placed in the passengers seat, her arms wrapped around her purse. “This doesn’t scare you, does it? Going to a new place and finding your way around?”

She was looking at me like she was proud of me, like I was a little bit more adventurous than her, that maybe she was a little jealous even. I smiled and shook my head, “Not at all,” I replied.

This is why I’ll leave. She knows that I need new places. I need to find my way around, find myself again in a new place I don’t know.

I’m terrified of losing my mom. I’m terrified of her missing things: my first real wedding, my next baby, my first book published. Who do I call when the good things happen? Who do I call when my world falls apart?

We were walking around one of those chintzy souvenir shops in downtown Nashville and my mom said, halfway under her breath so no one else would hear, “I’m not afraid of dying because you either go to Heaven and are with all your loved ones, or you just don’t exist anymore and you won’t know that you don’t exist anymore.”

I was caught off guard, because she’d never been so matter-of-fact about dying before. I agreed with her, simply because I didn’t know what to say when someone talks about dying so casually.

I’m supposed to have my mom there to help me choose my wedding dress. I’m supposed to have my mom there to see Jude grow up. She’s in her fifties. You are not supposed to die until you’re an old lady with a cane and bad hearing. Not when you still seem vibrant with life.

It’s not fair when the universe pulls the rug out from under you. My heart hurts for my friend. I want to make it better. I want to tell her everything is going to be okay. But I can’t. So I did the only thing I could do. I went to the store and bought any and everything I thought might help. Then I wrote a note for each thing and put it in a box and I’m going to mail it in the morning. It won’t bring her mom back, but I hope it helps in some way. I wish I could hop on a plane to Washington and cry with her. Or get her drunk. Or just hug her until all her broken pieces fit back together.

She’s a warrior. She is beautiful and brave and I know she’ll be okay. I hope that I’m the same way when my world shatters. I hope I have the strength.