Three days ago, my mom died.  She was alone when she died -- or, at least, she had no family member present. I'd been to the hospice the morning before, and she'd told me, "I'm going to die soon."  A…

Three days ago, my mom died.  She was alone when she died -- or, at least, she had no family member present. I'd been to the hospice the morning before, and she'd told me, "I'm going to die soon."  All I could do was cry, and tell her I was going to miss her.  She told me to stop. I decided to take my leave from work as soon as I could, told her I was going into work to do that.  And I did.  But she did not wait for me.  She died the next morning, and I did not make it there in time.

My mother was officially sick for 26 days.  26 days from going to see the doctor for the first time in 7 years to her death.  She'd been unwell for the past year, unwell enough that my daughter told me she was worried for Grandma, but still... my mom was up and active, took my kid to school in the morning, did the grocery shopping, moved my car on alternate parking days, watched the news with me.  She did her thing. But she'd been unwell, and over the summer she crashed.  For 3 weeks she ate less and less.  I begged her to go to a doctor, but she'd have none of it. Told me she knew it was cancer, and she did not want to be treated. Finally, when she was too weak to get herself off of the toilet, she said it was time to go to a doctor.  

She was right. She had Stage 4 advanced metastasized cancer in her throat, lung and liver.  She was past treatment. She went directly into a hospice facility.  The prognosis was 4-6 weeks or months -- no one was sure, as there was only one set of test results.  

And I went to work when the school year started, saw her almost every day, some times for hours, and sometimes for just an hour on my lunch or before classes. I asked, and asked, and asked the professionals at the hospice facility to let me know when we were getting close.  Told them I had time to take, and would take it, but needed to know when. Three days before she died, the nurse practitioner told me she was in decline but could last weeks, as she was still occasionally drinking. But she was in bad shape, in pain and would not tell nurses, out of breath when trying to manage the bedside commode, even though she had help. I knew it was soon, just not how soon.

But that last morning I saw her, she told me.  And even though my first thought was not to go in, I tried to be smart, not react, went in, taught my classes, spoke to my principal, straightened up my materials, met with my co-teacher, got ready to be off as of the following day.

I woke up the next morning.  It was my daughter's birthday. My daughter woke up wicked early, so we opened gifts, including the one from Grandma. We started to get ready to leave when my phone rang. The hospice said to come now.  We left 15 minutes later.  But I missed her.  Could not have gotten there even had I left the moment they called. 

So I never said goodbye.  Not properly.  And I promised my mother I would be there when she passed. I told her that I could not care for her as she cared for her mother, I apologized that i could not.  And I think my mother understood, as we all lived together for the past 8 years, and she's helped me raise my daughter, took her to school, was there when she got home, and she wanted my kid to come first.  Still, I promised her and I promised myself that I would be there in her last days, that I would take leave.

I tried to be smart, and she died without me there.  And last night I had a dream, and my mom came to me.  In the dream, I knew she was dead.  I was crying, and so happy to see her. She gave me a hug -- a hug like my mom would give.  And now I can't remember what she said, I can't remember what I said, in the dream I thought I was awake, it was so real.

Now I am here, while my daughter sleeps, in my mother's house, the house she took us into when I divorced, and I am bereft. I want my mother back.  I want to say I am sorry.  I want to say that I love her so much.  I want to tell her that she should stay.  I want to say that I need her, that I don't know how to do it all without her.

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