Saturday, September 29, 2012

Losing Mom

     I was trying to think of a subject for today's blog and couldn't come up with a thing.  Not a good start for a blog.  I had a few subjects tossing around my head but nothing was sticking out.  I think though that I'm just dancing around the true topic that I need to write about.  My mom.

     It's scary to write about her.  I'm in a good place right now and don't want to bring up the pain again.    It's been almost a year and a half since she died and, miraculously, I feel okay.  I didn't think I could ever get to this place.  Ever.  So I suppose writing about her from this place is better than the other place.

     My mom's name was Janette Dean and she was beautiful.  She was hilarious, and warm, smiling, grounded, gorgeous, spiritual, feminine, artistic, creative.  She was my best, best friend!  All I wanted when I was a kid was to be physically close to her.  I wanted to crawl into her lap and melt into her and stay forever.  I don't think I ever got past that.  When I saw her I would often just sit next to her on the couch and want to snuggle into her, even as a grown woman.

     I would call her nearly every day.  I would tell her everything, especially the emotional and spiritual stuff that were the puzzle pieces of growth.  She helped me sort through everything....even my own feelings about her cancer and the possibility of her death.

     She really was the most amazing person.

     I guess I'm trying to lay the groundwork of how awesome she was so that you get the picture of how fucking horrible her loss was.  And it's all tied inextricably to my kids.  When I found out she had breast cancer, my first child Megan was about 4 months old.  She lived for a year and a half after finding out, so I spent the majority of Megan's little young life dealing with the fear of her dying and seeing her sick, and she never saw Megan's 2nd birthday.  Also, 9 months of her year and a half were spent pregnant with my second child Finn.

     When Finn was three weeks old (I still can't believe that I went through all of this), my mom went into the hospital.  Then cancer had spread to her brain.  She was way, way out of it.  I remember feeling completely abandoned by her.  While most new moms have their mother come and help with childcare and housework my mom was dying.  I remember Brennan had to talk me down and tell me that she needs me now.  I think it helped shift my thinking.  She pretty much stayed in the hospital for the remainder of her life, about four more weeks.  I brought the baby to the hospital every day and he slept in his car seat in the corner while me and the family mourned and tried to stay upbeat, but mom was basically in a coma most of the time.  It was horrible.

     There were a lot of small things to be thankful for at the time.  The childcare given to Megan that allowed me to go to the hospital every day, the support of friends and family, the increasing closeness of the family when we could have easily been broken apart, the kindness of the doctors and nurses, health insurance, the fact that I had had Finn already and wasn't going through the last month of pregnancy and labor and birth without my mother.....many things to be grateful for (and I truly want to write a different post about all of those things).  But holy crap, it really fucking sucked.

     Watching my beloved, strong mother shrinking and sick and unconscious.  Knowing it would be just days, then just one day, then hours.  She died on May 2, 2011, my sister Sherri's birthday.  (Another strong my sister is for getting through that).  I remember that my grandparents and dad were in the room and Sherri and I took Finn to eat lunch in the cafeteria.  I had a salad.  When we came back there was a noticeable shift in the room, her breathing was different and it felt strange.  Finn started fussing and needed feeding so I got him out of his carseat and under my nursing blanket so I was across the room.  My grandma said to come over because it was happening right now.  But I couldn't because I was futzing with Finn.  And then she breathed her last breath.  I missed it and honestly I am so thankful because I didn't want the image running over in my head like a video.  My dad cried out, a sort of primal sound and we were all crying and he hugged her and called for the doctors to come in.  I remember some poor young male nurse came in and dad yelled at him to get the doctor.  But it was obvious that she was dead.  It was surreal and horrible.

     It calmed down after that.  It was done.  We all said goodbye one by one.  Grandma and Grandpa said goodbye, such an incredibly heartbreaking thing to see--two parents saying goodbye to their daughter.  We started cleaning up the room after a month's worth of accumulated stuff and garbage and cried on tissues had built up.  I held mom's hand and it was cold.  I would never be able to crawl into her lap like a child again.  I said goodbye and took Finn out and down to the car.  We all met at Grandma and Grandpa's house.

     Whew!  I am glad I just wrote all of that.  Sorry it was so depressing!  And I promise that not all of my posts will be this sad but I think I needed to tell that story for a while now.  I know that for the longest time I had a sort of PTSD from it all.  I still can't smell hand sanitizer (an ever present hospital smell) without a wave of grief hit me.  But, like I said, right now I'm in a good place.  A lot of the initial shock and grief have naturally worn off (I don't think a person can maintain such an amped up level of sadness for too long).  In another post I will describe the moment the shift into positivity happened.  But for now I'll leave it at this.

Love to you all,




  1. I guess I too needed the tears this day. All I can say is I love you.

  2. SHAUNA. So good. I feel privileged to have read this, and I think you do a great job of honoring your love for your mom. And OMG, the hand sanitizer - me too.