2014 – Be Gone!

This year was already one I was looking forward to being over. Just three days into the year, I lost my other sister Rhonda and because I was scheduled for brain surgery just a week later, I never made it back home. There wasn’t an immediate service and my niece and mother insisted I go ahead with the surgery as planned.. So I did.

Little did I know on Christmas 2013 when I spent my 50th birthday back in my home town, that it would be the last time I’d see my sister Rhonda AND my mother.

As I was just hoping to make it through the catalog process in one piece and with intact brain function, my mother suddenly passed away. She had been ill for a few weeks and had been in the hospital twice, then seemed to be doing okay at a rehab facility. So, it was shocking on a Saturday morning when she passed. Her blood pressured dropped, she became very ill and in the blink of an eye my beautiful, vibrant mother was gone. She was 87.

Because her death occurred a week prior to catalog files having to go to the printer, Dave and i were able to leave Maine immediately and drove to NY for only a few days to make arrangements and scope out the situation at her apartment. Then, as plans for a memorial service were being finalized, I had to come back to Maine to get the files out. I suppose being so busy when I came back helped me kind of block it all out, but not really. We still had to go back for the memorial service and get her apartment cleaned out.

In the span of less than two years I have lost both of my sisters (one to a massive ruptured brain aneurysm) and now my mother. I’m now parentless and an only child. As my mother and I discussed many times since both of my sister’s deaths, it was becoming increasingly difficult to recall events and people with any certainty without corroboration from either one of my sisters. Mom and I relied on each other for that.

Planning my mother’s memorial service was difficult from a distance, but I think, no, I KNOW, we did her justice and I know she would have been smiling. We had a little bit of fun at the service and that’s what mom was all about: laughter and fun. I doubt my home town has ever seen the likes of my mom’s memorial service. The dixieland band was a smash hit and a special request directly from my mother.

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Sister Rhonda, niece Jenny, and my Mom last Christmas 2013.

It was wonderful to see old friends and the many relatives that came out for the service. It’s just a shame it was under such circumstances. And through all of this, all I could think of was how I shouldn’t be doing this without both of my sisters by my side. That thought added to my grief and only made me miss them more.

My home town in New York has changed so much since I left there in 2000 and not for the better. Granted, it wasn’t a bustling, thriving town, but I look at it now, and it only brings sadness for what was. The house I grew up in was sold around 2004 and my mom began the last chapter of her life in a wonderful apartment complex. The old house has changed dramatically. Some of the changes are good, some….not so much. There are so many homes I used to admire growing up that have fallen into disrepair and almost unrecognizable as livable homes…and yet, they are! Even the street I grew up has changed. It used to be a lovely tree-lined street on a long hill. The trees became diseased and they all had to be cut down. It doesn’t look like the same street.

I know time changes everything and not always for the better. Driving around my home town made me sad in many ways. My father passed away in 1994 from cancer. I discovered some wonderful items of his I had never seen or read while cleaning out my mom’s apartment. They are now my treasures.

So, as I boxed up memories from my mom’s apartment, and brought them home to Maine with me, I am not looking forward to the holidays. They were going to be difficult anway due to the loss of my sister Rhonda, but now they’ll be doubly strange, sad, empty and tragic. I have to, yet again, get used to holidays without not one, but two relatives and your mom is a big hole that no one can fill.

I know I’ll get through it. Not much choice. It is what it is and our holidays haven’t been the same since Dave’s niece Kim died in 2008, again, just a few days after another holiday. Gone, are the fun family holidays where we played games, shared laughs and good food. We’ve done okay, its just far more low key than most people’s holidays.

Do I miss spending a Christmas with family and friends, of course I do. Does it mean I still can’t enjoy the holidays and enjoy christmas carols and holiday movies? No. I love all of that and I try to remember and honor those I have lost in some fashion. Whether it’s by lighting a special candle in the window, hanging that specific, meaningly ornament on the tree, or simply taking time to recall what that person meant to me I need to allow myself to FEEL their loss, but also celebrate their life. Easier said than done on some days, but my life won’t ever be the same without my mom….but liffe DOES go on and that’s something I know she’d be preaching to me.

My niece Jenny and I will move on and we’ll be okay. We’ve both lost out mother’s this year. We were blessed to have them in our lives and are both better people as a result and we should be thankful for that. So many people don’t have loving mothers, sisters or grandmothers.

I’m tired, sad, and a little lonely, but my husband, as usual, has been my rock and my salvation. Yes, I’m ready for 2014 to SO be over, but I look forward to the year ahead and creating new memories with Dave. We’re only given one life (or perhaps multiple ones, as my mother believed) and we should enjoy it and LIVE! So, bring on 2015, please.