When I was in high school, in the course of those four years I had 6 classmates lose their father. It became a gruesome joke that our school was cursed and the dads were doomed. Every time someone lost their dad I would think "I can't even imagine what they're going through." And then I would thank God it hadn't happened to me. Don't get me wrong, I definitely appreciated that I still had both of my parents, but I had that naive belief that they would be around forever. Or at least until I was old and gray.
March of 2009 my mom got sick. We didn't know what it was and honestly, most of us thought it was in her head so we took her to see a psychologist to try and get to the root of why she couldn't keep anything down. She had an exploratory surgery done in Indianapolis, and the doctor said she was perfectly healthy and to "enjoy being 50." He even wrote that on her chart. "Enjoy being 50." We are from Ohio, so me and my brother and sister did not see her often around this time. Me and my sister made a trip to Indiana to see her shortly after her surgery, and we saw how thin and frail she had gotten. So that night we packed all her bags (she was temporarily living with her best friend until she found a house there) and moved her back home. She stayed with me for a while, then her health steadily got worse. Doctors kept saying "you're fine you're fine you're fine, nothing's wrong you're fine."
Her health continued to deteriorate so they scheduled another exploratory surgery on July 1. I went to work like normal. My phone rang three times in my pocket but I was a server at a restaurant so could not answer. I went back to the breakroom. A voicemail. "Bethany, this is your Aunt Debbie. Honey I need you to call me as soon as you get this ok? I love you, Bye." I remember that voicemail word for word. I remember seeing movies where when someone got bad news, the space around them closed in. Totally real effect...I couldn't hear anything except the blood pounding in my ears. My first thought? Something went wrong, my mom is dead. I called my aunt and she told me i needed to come to the hospital. I asked why, she said "Honey you just need to come to the hospital now." I hung up. I lost it. A coworker found me sobbing and got a manager, and I choked out between sobs that something was wrong, handed her my swipe card and order book and bolted out the door past worried faces of the people I had worked with for over a year.
Stage 4 cancer..........
Stage 4 cancer? I didn't understand.
Stage 4 cancer..........
How do you have stage 4 cancer and NOBODY SEES IT! Exploratory surgery, x-rays MRIs consultations doctors doctors doctors. Enjoy being 50. Stage 4 cancer. HOW do so many people miss a tumor that covered my mother's entire abdomen?
I remember calling my boyfriend at work. No answer no answer. I called his actual work, they told me to call back later. I told them it was an emergency, they didn't care. The doctors sent us all home because my mom wouldn't wake up from the aenesthetic until morning. Me, my brother and my sister came back early the next morning.
Have you ever had to tell your mother she was dying? There was nothing anyone could do? Enjoy being 50, you're dying. You don't get to see your kids finish growing up. You don't get to meet the first grandchild that's growing inside your daughter-in-law. You don't get to see either of your daughter's get married. You don't get to be 51. You don't get anything. You get nothing. Enjoy being 50.
She was angry. She was broken. She was hurt, devastated, angry. Chemo would only prolong it, and would make her more miserable in the end.
They set up Hospice at my aunt's house. She was going to stay with me but I couldn't afford to not work and she needed someone with her at all times. So she stayed with my aunt and I was there whenever I wasn't working. Sometimes I'd stay the night but usually I'd go home to my boyfriend and collapse in his arms and he'd hold me until I'd cried myself to sleep every night. My brother and sister both lived an hour away. Family came from across the country to "pay their respects". How do you pay respects to somebody who isn't even dead yet?
August 7, 2009. 2:30 pm. It was Friday. I took my stepson Landon home to his mom. My boyfriend was golfing. Got to my stepson's mom's house. I locked my keys in the car. Called AAA, it would be an hour. I was frantic, I felt a weight on my heart that was out of place. My phone rang "Bethany, I think you should come back to Debbie's house." Flipping out.
AAA gets there and I went biserk on him for taking so long. I screamed out that he need to unlock my goddamn car right now!! Car gets unlocked and I zoom down the highway, take the exit...and there is a train. for 45 minutes I sat in the same spot, blocked in all directions so I couldn't turn around and take another route. 45 minutes.
4:45 I get back. My boyfriend's phone is dead. I call his sister and she goes to the golf course and hunts him down, and brings him back.
9:25pm, we are all at my aunt's house, gathered around my mother who had become incoherant the day before. My boyfriend loved my mother, and was having a hard time seeing her that way, so we went into the next room and watched TV.
9:27pm, my sister went to the bathroom.
9:29pm, my aunt went into the kitchen to get some Tylenol.
9:30pm, while we three were out of the room, my mom's heart stopped beating.
Fast forward. September 14, 2009 my boyfriend whisked me away to Hocking Hills for a much needed vacation. He proposed. He told me he had talked to my mom a week before she died, and she gave her blessing.
December 14, 2009. I felt weird. I took a pregnancy test. I was pregnant.
August 25, 2010. I had my daughter, Nevaeh Christine Smith. Heaven backwards...my Heaven.
I often cry, missing my mom....whenever I have a parenting question, I don't know who to go to. I have aunts, friends who are moms, my sister in law, the internet. It's not the same though. My mom was supposed to be here for this...She was supposed to stay with me for a week after each of my children was born and "teach me the ropes". She was supposed to tell me how proud she was of me, and how great of a mother I was becoming.
I was not supposed to lose my mother at 19. Have my baby when I was 20 without my mother there. Get married in February of 2010 to the man of my dreams, without my mother there to tell me how beautiful I looked in my dress.
I'm not ready to talk to God yet. I talk to my mom all the time. But how do I talk to the one who decided to take my mother? my best friend? She was my everything, we were so close. She knew me better than anyone. I am a Christian but I still can't step foot in a church. My mother was a deep Christian. I'm just not ready yet. I don't know if I ever will be. I am not angry...I'm defeated.
I never imagined I'd be a mommy without my mommy. I tell Nevaeh about her grandma all the time. I tell her my mom sent her down from Heaven because she was the orneriest one. I tell her she helped me heal from losing her Grandma. that's why we named her Heaven. I tell her she was 2 weeks overdue cause Grandma Patti couldn't get enough of her! Nevaeh knows who her Grandma is. Or at least the idea of her. I talk about her a lot, and she is all grins whenever I do.
I just never thought I'd be raising my children without my mom to call when I needed advice.