Finding a Way Forward

Dedicated to Gayle Ann O’Connell

Me and Mom. Photo by Kevin O'Connell

Me and Mom.
Photo by Kevin O’Connell

To tell you the truth I don’t even know where to start.

Almost a month ago, my Mother passed away from Congestive Heart Failure. She left us on a rainy June morning, catching us all by surprise. The paramedics couldn’t get her heart going.

Her health over the last six months had been waning. It started as a heavy cough, and continued on as a shortness of breath. Part of us could see what was coming, but it still came as a shock to us.  Even if you expect it, the reality of it still hits you like a freight train. There are many more vivid details of that day that are burned into my head. Yet they are private and I intend to keep them that way.

There are small details that can be shared. The sad faces of the paramedics as I ran down my driveway in the pouring rain. The kind words of a small town cop, who stayed with us through the entire thing.  The warm hugs of aunts, and the comfort of knowing we were surrounded by so much love.

The first few days passed in a painful blur. I was incredibly hurt, and sad that she had gone so quickly  that I hadn’t had a chance to say goodbye.  There was a heavy unfairness that hung in the air as well. She passed away a week before we were due to go to Maine. She had been looking forward to the trip for many months. It was not fair that she was taken so close to the trip. Yet as the days carried on I was able to look at the situation evenly. Even if she had gone, it may have not lived up to her expectations. Due to her health and other issues, it may have been a let down.

Truth is, it may have been better this way. People have given us strange looks when we tell them this, but it is true. We are private people who bear our problems in silence. Only we knew the extent of the pain my Mother was enduring. She did it with a quiet, humble dignity, yet she was in so much pain. With her failing health and limited mobility, the trip may have been hard on her. It may have been a disappointment. It gives me some peace that she passed away looking forward to something she loved so much. Whenever something small catches me and throws me off of my pilings, I try to remember that.

Grief comes and goes in waves. There are long stenches when I am fine. Yet it always seems to be the little things that get me. It has been the little memories that have often put me in tears. Its the flowers blooming outside the windows, or the sunblock she told me to wear. I am going to miss all these little nuances. I spent the first few day burying my grief.  Yet as more days pass, I try to face it more and more. It is still incredibly painful, yet everyday I am working through it.

Routines have been shattered, and ideals have been totally changed. The first few days it was like stumbling in the dark. We were forgetting everything, and often laughter would be followed by sobbing. Yet slowly we made decisions. The trip to Maine would go forwards as planned, it had to. She would have wanted us to go, and we wanted to do it for her. Three weeks were spent in Maine, remembering my Mother, and all the fun we had together.

At first I was too hurt to write. Yet as my biggest supporter, I know my Mom would not have wanted me to stop writing. So each day I write a bit more, creating a travel log. I wanted to remember this trip, and the best way I know how is to write it down on paper. As we creep closer to August, I cannot believe the Summer is almost over. I still think of Moms face and it puts me in tears, and it is so hard for me to think that she is gone. Yet as hard as it is, I want to be happy. Nothing made her sadder than seeing me in tears, so I try to smile. My push to write has become stronger now. I want to make her proud.

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