One year ago today I was helping my mom down the stairs at the old house. She had an early morning doctor appointment and an elder care consultant was going to meet us there. I had made the difficult decision to place my mom in a skilled nursing facility and the consultant was going to help. Mom’s health had deteriorated to the point where it was risky to leave her alone at home while I worked and between working full time and trying to manage all of her medical needs, my own physical and mental health began tanking.
When she got to the bottom of the stairs that morning, she slipped and fell onto her back. She didn’t hit her head, but she was disoriented and confused. I couldn’t get her up and I knew at that point I needed to call an ambulance. They took her to Parkland and everything changed.
She stayed at Parkland for about two months. The doctors told me her heart was failing, the traumatic brain injury she had sustained a year and a half prior had caused permanent damage, and she had new brain bleeds. During her time there, she needed blood transfusions, had a seizure, and couldn’t walk without assistance. The mom I grew up with slowly faded and watching her personality disappear is a type of pain that I can’t even begin to describe. I don’t know how I would have made it through that time without Temple, my cousin and her family, and my friends.
Our relationship changed so drastically and I struggled to connect with her. She had been my biggest source of emotional support and when everything just kept falling apart, I didn’t have her to run to. In a lot of ways, her death was a relief. She had been in so much pain and lost a significant amount of weight. She would’ve hated knowing that she was in a residential care home and needed a wheelchair because she could no longer walk. I am grateful I was able to tell her everything I needed to say and to say goodbye. Some people don’t get that and I know I was lucky.
I keep thinking that all I want to do is go home, the one that I grew up in with my mom. But that version no longer exists and it means something different now. Home means Temple, it means being with my friends and chosen family, it means being with the person I love and their family that I’ve been wholeheartedly welcomed into. While I am grateful for all of that, I hate that my mom isn’t here and I miss her every single day.
Before we came down the stairs that morning, I was impatiently trying to get her ready. I was exhausted from trying to juggle everything and had overslept. Mom needed help getting dressed and I remember being annoyed with that. I feel so guilty because I know I was rushing her and she just couldn’t move as fast as she used to. Sometimes I wonder if my impatience that morning led to her ending up in the hospital. Maybe if I had woken up earlier, I would have been more gentle and patient, she wouldn’t have slipped. It’s dangerous and ultimately futile to think about the what ifs. I can’t change anything now. I can only hope that I made the best decisions and that she knew deep down how much I loved her.