How do you comfort your mom after your dad passes away?
How do you convince her that everything is going to be alright when you are unable to convince yourself?
How do you expect her to just move on after having having spent most of her life with the same person?
He was her best friend. They loved each other, they hated each other, they put up with one another, they ate breakfast together, they ate dinner together – he asked “how was your day?” and she asked “how was your day?” and other times they ate in silence.
They forgave and forgot, they gave and they took, there was hurt and pain and joy and laughter. There was all that life could throw at them and all that they withstood as a united and powerful force created from love and devotion.
They sacrificed for you and your siblings as all good parents do in wanting more for you than they had for themselves.
They made a promise – in sickness and in health – knowing one would eventually fall ill while the other would remain healthy only wishing they were ill so they could go first.
She was there at the very end, holding his hand and telling him how much she loved him and how much she needed him and how she didn’t want him to suffer any more.
He was there, eyes flickering mostly shut, the last few breaths a struggle, the sound of machines, the stench of death all around the ICU. What did he know at that moment? What did he feel at that moment?
We will never know. She will never know. She will always worry that whatever she did in the end was not enough and nothing ever could be because what is enough when you can’t pull someone you love from the jaws of death?
There will always be regrets and things you wish you had done differently, moments of guilt that eat you up.
We never expect them to go even when we know they are going.
She sits alone now no longer in the home you grew up in but instead in a strange new place in an apartment building - a place she never thought she would be.
She waits for him to come home, for the sound of his voice, for his reassurance that she is still lovely and desirable and that she belongs to him and is deep within his heart.
She sees herself differently in the mirror, feeling old and frail and wishing her time would come because every moment on this earth, in this life without him is one too many.
So what do you say to your mother who has lost her husband, her co-pilot, her soul partner?
Say something, say nothing, say anything – it really doesn’t matter because she isn’t listening.
Rather she waits all day for night to come and then she waits for sleep and then she listens carefully for the sound of his voice as it rises like a ghost from the shadows and says:
“Close the lights, close your eyes, shut off the world, think of me and only me and when you dream I will be in that dream, I will come to you, I will tell you that I am alright without ever saying a word and I will tell you I love you and I want you to live because you are alive and I will watch you every second – every image, every smile, every tear drop, every sigh and when it is time for you to come, I will be waiting even if it is forever.”
And she will wake the next morning feeling as if he did visit her last night in her dreams.
And every day that passes will be another day he is not there and though he promised to wait forever, she fears that forever will never come.