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Still Hard To Believe...

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On September 19th, 2009, my mother, Alice Mae, was working in her garden when a blood vessel burst in her brain. She was born with this thing, called an AVM, and she had no symptoms. She didn't know it was there, no one did. She survived emergency brain surgery but had to recover from the stroke that the AVM caused her to have when it burst. She survived until October 29th, 2009, when bilateral pneumonia took her life. Her last days were at Hospice of the Valley at Phoenix Baptist Hospital. She was surrounded with love by her family and friends and was treated with tremendous dignity, comfort, love and respect by the Hospice doctors, nurses and staff; for which my sister and myself will always be grateful.

Today would have been her 77th birthday and even at just over 4 months I still have thoughts of "how can this be real?"

She was so healthy and vital and strong... and would not have had a stroke for any other reason. As a former nurse, she knew what she was facing after the brain surgery and there was hope for recovery up until the last week when the pneumonia took over, eventually causing sepsis and her death. My sister and I will always be grateful that years ago my mother had spoken with us about living wills and what she wanted. Having previously lost our father and our brother to long years of suffering and illness, we knew and respected our mother's wishes at the end. She was at peace.

In my heart, I am not at peace... I am so sad. And recently my anger has returned. It's different in someways from the anger I felt just after she died. But what I am angry about is mostly the same. I am angry that my mother had this timebomb in her brain, which took away her independent life, as she knew it, on Sept. 19th. I am angry that she developed the bilateral pneumonia and eventually sepsis; which caused her death. And today, I am angry that she doesn't get to turn 77. My anger now doesn't have the steam behind it that it did before, but it is here again, just here... present in my heart.

My sister and I spoke earlier this week about how we both needed to just get through today. Like the recent holidays, which were awful and sad and yet somehow we got through them. Because I am my mother's daughter I will get through today. I can do that for her.

I miss her every day. I feel like there is no sweetness or joy in my life and like there is a "limiter" on my emotions, which is probably the only thing that keeps me from being a puddle on the floor all the time. This was a sudden and (until we entered hospice for the last few days) unexpected death. Maybe that's why it is still, at times, just completely unreal to me that she is dead. I miss my mother, I miss my friend, I miss the love and respect that we had for each other... and that I know I will never have, at least not in that way, ever again.

This is the first time I have posted in such a forum. I needed to write this "out loud." I also needed to put her birthday on the calendar here.

I have been reading the posts in this forum for about a month, but I wasn't ready for this until today.

I am grateful to all of you that have posted here... you have helped me in my sorrow.

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Sometime in the early 1950's my Mother spent months in the Nevada desert with my father, watching mushroom clouds rise from above-ground atomic bomb testing, while having breakfast and drinking coffee. Two years ago my Mother was diagnosed with myelofibrosis, a precursor to leukemia, and her physician pressed her with the question of whether she had ever been exposed to radiation. At first she didn't recall any such exposure, but soon it dawned on her just what was the cause of her terminal illness. My mother died last November at 78 years of age.

My Mother lived the last two years of her life sustained by frequent blood transfusions. This bought our family two full years of quality time to say and do everything possible before her passing.

In one respect I feel very fortunate. I had plenty of time to say goodbye to my Mother. I feel your loss for not having had that.

Like you I do have some anger, but it is not overwhelming. Not even for how the U.S. government broadly exposed citizens to radiation in the Nevada desert, which eventually killed my Mother. I just don't have time for the anger now, because it feels out of place when I am trying to mourn. I've had to yank myself out of episodes of anger several times in this last 3 months. Preserving a calm mind seems to help me honor my Mother in memory and thought.

I am still being shaken by emotions beyond my control, but somehow I dearly value my own grief and do not want to cast it off. It's difficult for me to explain. If it weren't for this grief I would not understand who I am or what the loss of a parent really means.

My Mom lives on in me, and yours in you. In biology, in memory, in character, and countless other ways we are extensions of our parents. We honor them by continuing our own lives.

Thank you for your post; it helps me too.

Ron B.

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what a beautiful post.I can feel your love for your mother through your words.I'm sorry for your loss,and what a unfair way to have to say goodbye.I have so much anger over my fathers recent death,and that was a heart-attack.I can't imagine the anger when you actually have someone or something to blame.I know everything there is to say.I have heard it all in the past month,but I will say that the love for her will always be with you.The memories will always be there.I can sometimes hear my dad's voice in my head,and I know that although it rips my heart up,I never want to forget that voice.It's unfair,I know.The anger is real,the pain is overwhelming,and there is no relief until the day we see them again.Stay strong,and thank you for sharing.

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I'm sorry about your loss. I understand completely when you say "I miss my mother, I miss my friend, I miss the love and respect that we had for each other... and that I know I will never have, at least not in that way, ever again."

I feel the same exact way. It's a huge loss and void not to have that in my life anymore. I know I have and will have love, but it's just not the same as my mother's love.

I'm glad you're happy with the medical care your Mom received. Hang on to that thought because many people don't have that and that ends up complicating their grief. At least you know your Mom received the best care. (((hugs)))

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