This interview was one of the only times that Mom and I spoke about her not being here. See, I still have trouble saying it. About her dying. With all my work that I had done leading grief counseling groups and reading on the subject, it remained the elephant on the table throughout the 14 months of her illness. But that was how she wanted it to be, and I was following her lead. She said early on that she didn't want "any bad news" from the doctors. And so, my husband and I filtered it. We stayed behind after doctor's appointments and asked questions like "How much time are we realistically looking at?"
But talking about death does not need to be negative. The focus does not need to be on loss, but rather on legacy. As you will find in the skillfully formed questions, Dr. Lorraine Hedtke is a master craftswoman, carefully carving out meaning from the mundane.
Who knew crocheting could hold so much meaning and serve to connect past and future generations of women?
I read a draft version of the chapter, but have yet to finish a read again. So, if you made it this far, thank you. Mom was a very private person, but obviously granted her permission for this to be used to help others. And that's just what this book will do, in due time. For now, it's hard to read through the tears. Although the focus of this interview, chapter and book is on the positive, and I remember being content that day, I am currently battling regrets that creep in when I think of her, and overshadow our would-be happy memories. From regrets that I didn't take leave from work and stay home with her those last months to regrets that I didn't stop her treatments earlier.
But how was I to know? And what would she say to counter this? "Don't be silly, Meggie. You did all you could have, and it was more than I could have hoped for or needed. And now that you have Autumn, you finally understand just how much I loved you, and how much I love you still. You wouldn't want Autumn feeling this way, just as I don't want you to shoulder that burden." I just have to let her voice be louder than mine, because I know it's the right one. Besides, the what-ifs will continue indefinitely if I let them. I have a ways to go, and work to do, as we approach the second anniversary of her death on October 8th. I hope to report to you in a few years time that I am past this phase, but still feel as close and connected to her as ever. Because that's the goal of this approach; actively fostering connections instead of "letting go" or "moving on."
I leave you with two photographs of Mom taken three years ago today. Right after she was diagnosed, had brain surgery and moved to Tustin to be closer to us, we walked to the park across the street from their new apartment. We put the diagnosis and fears aside and had a wonderful evening at a production of Hairspray. This is how I want to remember her, and her and I together. And this is how I want my memories and thoughts to be, instead of cluttered with the what-ifs.