Before I talk about the first time I knew something was wrong I want to tell you about something that happened. As those who know me know, I am an open book. This means I will tell almost anything to almost anyone as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's privacy. What people often don't know about me is that means what you don't know about me or something that has happened in my life, you will never know. I know better than most how to keep something close to the chest so to speak. You might even say I give the illusion of knowing so much about me that nobody thinks there might be so much more that I am not saying.
So, this next part is not something I tell lightly only because I don't want to hear it from people who don't believe what I am about to say. I trust my readers of this blog, though and I know you will understand or at least move past it with a willingness to forgive my indulgence and belief in what happened one day when I went to visit my mom before there were outward signs that things were not progressing as they should.
I brought her cup of soup and we did our usual talking and laughing and planning. And all of a sudden around her I knew (I didn't see or hear anything, only felt) that her friend Peggy was in the room with us. Now Peggy had been one of mom's best friends and had died from cancer years before my mom. I had never seen my mom's heart ache like it did when Peggy died. I cannot even explain how I knew Peggy was there...I felt her is all I can say. I knew right then and there that she was there because mom was going to die. But, I kept this to myself and within a few days had tossed it off as me being exhausted. I think I did that because I wasn't ready to accept my mom's death. I also wish I had asked my mom about it. Did she know Peggy was there? But, I remember I specifically didn't because I didn't want her to worry about her death. There were so many times in those three months that I didn't bring up dying because I didn't want her to worry about dying. That probably was a mistake. Mom knew before all of us and even the doctors that she was dying. I wonder if she knew on that day. I wonder if she felt, saw or spoke with Peggy on that day or any other after that.
It would be a few days after that that mom stopped being able to keep food down. Michael came for a visit and she told us she had a dream about our dad. He was in a kitchen and she said, "John, did you come to see me?" and he said, "Pat, I am not here for you. I came to be with the kids. They need me." Looking back I know that this was mom opening up the conversation that she was going to die. But, you see, this was not yet matching with what the doctors were telling us or even what we were seeing. She and I were still talking, laughing and planning. I was bringing her soup and cheese and crackers everyday. Sure, she had stopped eating and they were getting worried the leg couldn't heal if she didn't eat but that certainly didn't equal death in my book.
Our hearts and minds accept what needs to be accepted when we are ready. I was not ready. Mom appeared ready but in the next three months she would battle with God a bit about not being ready to leave her family. It was heartwrencing and yet amazing to watch. This story is about mom dying, me growing up, and also, about that fact that since mom's death you would never be able to convince me that God does not exist.