I feel you

Hi mom. I’m sorry I haven’t written for a while. It’s not that I forgot or haven’t wanted to, it’s just that I’ve been putting it off for no reason. The feelings I had in the beginning are gone now. I don’t feel that intense physical pain anymore. I said I never wanted it to stop but it did. I really thought the 1 year anniversary would knock me down so hard I would never get back up again but the exact opposite happened. That day was the first day I felt “normal” again. I feel you in other ways now. In ways that are undeniably you. For example the other day I was fishing with my dad and I felt you smiling. You finally got to see how we are together and I know that if there was one thing in this world that you were proud of it was that you gave birth to me and that you chose my dad to be my dad. That same night on my way home in the jeep with the top off and all the doors off when I knew it was going to rain and I was so excited to be caught in he rain. I knew you were in that passenger seat having a blast. The strongest I felt you was when I got home that night and had a dance party in the barn to YMCA. I know you were dancing your goofy dance and making your silly noises. You constantly find little ways to let me know you’re here. Butterflies, cardinals, the sun rays shining through the clouds. I feel you when I’m on the back of Lori’s motorcycle. I feel you all the time, and I hope that never stops. I don’t care if these are all things I’m just saying to try and find any little sign that you’re not really gone. I don’t care because that is the only thing that gets me through each day. 

I love you mom. When I look at your picture by my bed the wind gets knocked out of me. I love you. Please don’t ever leave me more than you already have. I know it isn’t your fault. I have been so angry. Not at you don’t worry, just mad in general. I don’t know if it’s because you died or if it’s because I’m just a general a horrible person in my soul. 

I made grandma cry with my letter on Mother’s Day. I want to talk to her everyday but I can’t stand to. I know she’s the only one in this world who knows exactly what I’m feeling. She’s the only one in this world who misses you as much as I do. I am so full of regret I can’t even stand myself. 

Blind sided 

Tomorrow is your birthday and you are all I have been thinking about the past week.  I’m sitting here just watching tv and out of nowhere I thought about me, you, Charlie and Lori eating lunch at the nursing home when Charlie brought us the wedding planning book. You were so excited. You were clapping your hands with that beautiful genuine smile and you said “yay! Something good is good is going to come because of my death!” I know that sounds weird but you meant it genuinely. You were already getting worse. Your hair was falling out in huge quantities. You couldn’t walk too well. Everyone knew you wouldn’t make it to my wedding except for me. I really thought you’d make it. I am just sitting here and all of that popped into my head and I’m just fighting tears. The pain in my heart is so intense. I feel so sad you didn’t get to watch me get married. If you would have known you weren’t going to be there I’m sure you would have told me so many things and we would have cried. Part of me thinks that you are so happy in your after life that you don’t really care what goes on here. Another part of me thinks you are so bummed out that you are missing all of the wonderful things happening in my life. I just want you here again. 

On this day last year you were back home and you texted me about how angry you were at Tiffany and how much pain your were in. You asked me to take you back to the hospital. Of course since I’m an asshole I thought you were faking it and I was so mad at you. Seriously what kind of daughter doubts everything her mother says and thinks her cancer isn’t really that bad? I’m such an asshole. You sensed that I was mad. You apologized in the car and started crying. I felt bad but not enough to comfort you. I’m such a fucking asshole. When we got to the hospital I walked up to your room with you, and stayed with you while they admitted you and then I left. I was still so frustrated. You didn’t let me come see you for almost a whole week. Anyway this was all one year ago. On your actual birthday you spent the day alone in the hospital. Your last birthday was spent alone. The nurses and doctors and dietary staff all asked where I was but you didn’t trash talk me. Yet another example of your incredible love for me. I texted you happy birthday and I was sorry you were in the hospital. I am SUCH a fucking asshole. I should have come to see you even if you said no. I should have brought flowers and balloons. We didn’t know yet how bad the cancer was. We didn’t know yet that in a few days they would tell us there was nothing they could do. Either way … there is no excuse for the way I treated you. I’m sorry. I’m so very sorry. 

Happy birthday mom. Tomorrow I’m going to make haluski in honor of you. I miss you like crazy. I love you with all of my heart. And I am so sorry. 

Can’t you come back? Just for a few minutes? Please?

There is so much I want to tell you. There are so many things I want to do over but since I know that’s impossible I just want to talk to you for a few minutes. Ugh I’m already crying. Which is why I’ve been putting off writing. I have also been putting off calling Grandma because I know all I’ll do is cry. Lori keeps telling me to call and I keep saying I will. Before I know it she’ll be gone too and then I’ll have more regrets. I’m over thinking because I’m trying not to cry. I better just stop. What a disaster. 

Dear Dan.

This letter has been stuck in my head for almost a year now. Every time I think about writing this I get butterflies of anxiety in my stomach. I keep putting it off but I need to get this off my chest and now seems like a great time to do that.

I always liked you. From the first time I met you I thought you were great. You gave me rides on your motorcycle, you let me ride in the back of your pickup truck, and your laugh always made me laugh. Your smile was contagious. You even sent me money for Christmas or my birthday sometimes. It makes me sick to think how easily I was fooled. My loyalty was always with you. Can you believe that? I felt bad for you! I heard rumors that you hit my mom, yelled at her, etc. but you know what my response was? “Well honestly she probably deserved it.” I want to fucking puke admitting that out loud right now.

As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, my mom died of lung cancer almost a year ago. At first all we knew for sure was that she had cancer. I didn’t let myself get too upset because I didn’t know how bad it was. I hoped for the best. I also didn’t think it was a death sentence, I just thought even if it was bad there would be surgeries and chemo and it was going to suck but she would be ok. My family was terrified. My mom was terrified. I was not. I knew she would be ok. I let my boss know as soon as I found out just in case anything bad happened and I needed to leave to be with her. I figured she would get treatment somewhere close to where she lived and I’d go be with her when I could. I had no idea I wouldn’t return to work until 2 months later.

3 days later she was admitted to the Cleveland clinic downtown and the day after that we found out what we were dealing with.

Her and I were sitting in her hospital room when about 3 doctors entered the room. The one was a very tall man who sat down in a chair by my moms bed and explained to us exactly where the cancer was, and how aggressively it had spread. My mom was scared. I was not. I noticed one of the other doctors, a short woman was staring at me with compassion in her eyes and I smiled at her. She looked confused. I asked, “Do you know what stage it is?” The tall doctor looked at me and said, “Well…this would be a stage 4.” It was like someone threw a boulder onto my back…and all I could do was grab my moms hand and cry.  Anyway…do you want to know the very first words out of her mouth were? “Dan used to tell me he hoped I would get stage 4 cancer and die.” I almost didn’t even want to tell you that because I don’t want you having the pleasure of knowing your abuse worked.

This is the part where I realized that the way I had been thinking about you since I met you was completely wrong. As you know my relationship with my mom was never very good. The hurt she caused when she left my life when I was a little girl left wounds that will never heal. She did the right thing by leaving, but that does not make up for the many years of sadness I felt constantly wishing for her to come back or at least want me. But none of that mattered anymore. She was dying. I knew she needed me and I wasn’t about to turn my back on her the way I had done in the past. The way everyone has always turned their back on her.

I knew I had to act fast to get her affairs in order. She had me drive to her house to get her files and her car. When I got home I started looking through the box. I was looking for specific things but found more than I bargained for.

I pulled this out:

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I thought this was my hair that she saved for some reason. She always saved everything. She was still in the hospital and I sent her a picture and asked why she had this clump of hair. Her response took the breath out of me. She kept the hair clump she had to cut out of her hair after you beat her up to remind her to never go back to you. She said she did go back to you though.  With more digging I found letters from you to her. Nasty letters. Hurtful, ugly, mean nasty letters. After more digging in her files I find some pictures of her with a swollen, crooked, bruised nose. She looked so young. I asked her “Who did this to you?!” When she told me it was you I cried all night long. The guilt I felt consumed every ounce of my being.

Regret and guilt for hating this woman almost my entire life began to take over who I thought I was. I used to consider myself a pretty good judge of character until the truth of what you had done was learned. Memories came flooding back. The first of many was the time my wife and I heard you were sick and you were having some trouble getting around. I contacted you and offered to clean up the house a little and cut your grass. You and my mom were divorced. After we left your house we went to my moms since we were already out that way. We surprised her. I didn’t hide from her that I had just been to your house. Her face sunk, I watched her slump over with the weight of what I told her, that I had spent my afternoon helping the man who broke her nose, crushed her self esteem, and destroyed her hope. She only asked “why?” And I told her because I liked you and you had always been good to me. Again, since I’m being honest…I only told her I was helping you to hurt her feelings. I had NO IDEA what you had done to her. NONE. I was always mad at her. I wanted her to hurt as bad as I did…but she never told me what you did to her. She never told me to stay away from you. She protected me from figuring out the monster that you are. She probably knew I wouldn’t believe her even if she did tell me.

My mom declined very quickly. We found out February 9th that she had cancer. She died on April 15th. I was with her every single day during that time. She took responsibility for all the wrongs she had done to me. She told me she knew she always blamed someone or something else but she knew that ultimately it was her who hurt me. I forgave her and told her the past was in the past.

The plan was to do radiation and chemo. Those plans changed very quickly when all of a sudden the doctors came in and told us there wasn’t anything they could do. She was declining quickly, the cancer was taking over her body daily. It started in her lung, moved to her lymph nodes, bones, brain, clavicle, shins, her right eye, and in her moth. The side effects of chemo would kill her, her body was not strong enough to fight this. I can not describe in words the devastation of watching someone be told they are going to die. We asked how long she had, and the doctor said giving her 6 months was generous but she would be surprised if my mom was still here in 3 months.

We had to move her into a nursing home on hospice because I didn’t want her to die in my house. I also didn’t want her going to live back where she was because I couldn’t have been  with her as often. It is very selfish but I know I did the right thing. My mom was 55 years old living in a nursing home. Luckily her friends and some family was able to see her and get her out pretty often. I had to take her car away because of the tumor in her eye. The nursing home was less than five minutes away from my work so I had lunch with her every day and brought her to my house whenever I could.

I just have to pause for a second and tell you that  almost feel like you don’t deserve to know the details I’m giving you. What if you’re happy that she was sick and suffering? You asshole.

It was a Friday morning when I got a call from a hospice nurse that she had begun to “rapidly decline”. I rushed to be with her. When I got there the hospice nurse told me they needed to know what funeral home to call when she passed. I knew things were serious. I slowly walked into her room afraid of what I was about to see but to my surprise she was sitting up in her bed and smiled at me! All I could do was fight tears. She saw that I was upset and I asked her if she knew what was happening. She said no. I told her what the nurse told me. I choked out “you’re getting worse”. She said she thought so. And we cried together. We hugged and cried. She said, “I’m not ready to leave you. I don’t want to leave you.” She told me she loved me. Those were her last real words to me, when she was still herself. By the time I went home that night she was transferred by ambulance from the nursing home to an actual hospice facility. Exactly one week later she was gone. I won’t tell you the details of that, because you don’t deserve to know.

In the weeks that followed I had to sort through her storage unit, move her out of the house she was living in, and carefully sort through her things. Which leads me to the reason I’m even writing you this letter.

As I’m sure you know, my mom saved everything. Most of the things I was glad she saved. However there were a lot of things I wish I had never seen including her clump of hair and pictures of her broken, bloody, and bruised face. Those are images I will never get out of my head, never. But you know what? I deserve this for saying she probably deserved it. I deserve to live with this regret and depression for never believing what I thought were rumors. I deserve the constant ache in my heart for letting you destroy her.

I found letters you wrote her. My heart physically aches because of the things you said to her in those letters. You are one sadistic abusive fuck. Those letters are also something I will never forget.

I know my mom wasn’t perfect. She struggled with addiction her entire life. Her addictions always won no matter what she did or how she tried. And she did try. No one can deny that. I even found flyers and brochures of programs she saved to get help. Including places for victims of abuse.NO ONE deserves abuse, NO ONE no matter what they say or do deserves to be beaten up. ESPECIALLY a woman. I found secrets she would never want me to know. I can’t say I wish I never found them because then I wouldn’t have ever found out what a pathetic, evil, manipulative, selfish asshole you are.

Through my moms death I finally got to know the real her. I always thought that the legacy she would leave behind would be pathetic and I’d just be so angry at her. Instead, her legacy is love. Pure, true, unconditional love. I wish I could say I’m not shocked, but I am. It was very shocking to learn about the love she felt for everyone in her life. She loved me more than anything or anyone in this world. And I treated her like shit. Almost everyone she ever met or ever cared about treated her like shit. But she loved them anyway. She genuinely loved them. No matter what anyone did or said. Hell, you broke her damn nose and she still loved you. I shudder to think about you punching my mom in the face. I feel sick imagining her screaming and crying and fearing for her life. All while her daughter was sticking up for and helping the man who beat her within inches of her life. She could have hated me. She should have hated me. She loved me instead, she stayed silent instead. Knowing in her heart that one day I would see the truth, it’s just such a shame that when I finally did, it was too late. This is my karma for years of hating her without knowing the truth. I will live the rest of my life with this regret.

I also know that this letter will do no good. I know that my mom would tell me to let this go, that it isn’t worth being angry at you. To forgive you. And I will forgive you someday, because I know I have to in order to move on. I know that if I could sit and have a few beers with my mom and tell her why I wanted to write this letter she’d eventually give me her blessing. This letter to you is my way of telling my mom how sorry I am for never being there for her when she needed me, and how much I regret hating her without knowing the facts. But for now I’m going to spend all the time I want hating you and your family for taking advantage of my blind trust. I loved you guys so much and genuinely believed you over my mom. I had no idea what you had done. Do your daughters even know? How angry would you be if one of them were being abused by their husbands? My mom was someone’s daughter. She was my mom. You hurt my mom. I hope you hurt too. I hope you hurt worse than she did. I hope someone breaks your nose. I hope you fear for your life, and I hope your life gets cut short and you leave behind a legacy of NOTHING.

This letter may be all over the place but I don’t care. I’m just glad I finally wrote it.

2017

Well here it is mom. The first day of the new year, the first day another year starts where you won’t be at all. That thought is so very strange to me. It didn’t hit me until I was counting down with my friends with our champagne held high…10,9,8….5…fuck. I started to get choked up so I had to stop counting and in those last few seconds I realized I was leaving you behind. I hate that time goes on, that this world just goes on. It seems no one even cares about this huge loss I suffered. The only person in the world who understands this is Grandma and that alone is just humorous to me after all we’ve been through.

This time last year you were just back from your trip to Florida to visit Grandma and Uncle Gary. You were in so much pain but you thought it was from Grandma or Uncle Gary’s bed. No one knew you were sick, not even you. I can’t even believe the cancer was probably growing for so long and no one even knew. By the time they found it it always everywhere. How sad.

Anyway, I’m starting to consider going to a therapist for this grief. I think what I’m feeling and going through is completely normal but it seems Lori may be getting impatient with me. It’s not that I want to leave you in the past…the problem is I don’t want to leave you there. I want you with me now and in the future. The closeness I felt with you at the end of your life was just like the closeness we shared at the beginning of my life and I want it back.

I love you mom, and I’m sorry you can’t be here for 2017 but I really hope if there’s an afterlife it’s much better than the life you lived here and you aren’t  even missing any of this. I really hope that.

Love,

Jess

I’m such a bitch

Hi Mom. This grief business is sure tough. I don’t know what it is. I will be fine and not thinking of you and then wham! Inpark my Jeep by the lake for lunch and start crying. I think it’s just so permanent. I know I’ll never get the chance to explain myself or apologize for things I’ve done or said. It kills me. I really don’t buy it when people say you knew or you would understand. I mean I’m sure you would understand if I told you what I was thinking. But the fact remains that I acted in ways that were not very compassionate towards you in the end. I can’t apologize and it is absolutely killing me. I keep thinking about when I took you from the hospital when you were discharged to the nursing home. I was SO ITRITATED with you. You were in such a rush to get out and you were so mean to the nurses. I had to walk to and from the pharmacy a million times which wasn’t close. You wanted to go out to eat but I just wanted to get you to the nursing home so I was crabby. We didn’t talk the whole way there. When we finally got there I felt so bad for you. It wasn’t anything like I remembered when we toured it. They put you in a old shitty room and it wasn’t private and I felt like I made a mistake. I couldn’t stop crying I felt so guilty and you tried to comfort me when I should have been the one comforting you. I got out of there as soon as I could. I should have stayed longer. I wouldn’t let you keep your car because of the tumor in your brain and eye…I thought you’d hurt yourself or someone else or go to a bar and drive drunk. I should have let you do whatever you wanted. You didn’t even last a month there. It was your las month of life and I restricted you. I was so hard towards you and my intentions were good I swear but I never explained it to you. All I was focused on was being strong for you and I think that came across really mean. I didn’t want you in that nursing home. But I could t have you at my house. You wanted to move closer to your friends and I got so mad at you because I didn’t want to drive an hour to see you. I don’t regret that though… it would have been ten times harder to deal with all of that and have you so far away. You were in so much pain at the end and I just wanted it to stop. To see you in that pain was more than I could stand. You kept saying you’d rather have a million babies with no epidural than feel that pain. So when they asked if I minded if you were more sedated of course I didn’t object. The thing was though…you were never very sedated. You were so restless. You could stay still and you wanted to get up as often as you could. I get so bad for you. You tried so hard to have a positive attitude but I know you were really down about the whole thing. Well now I have to go back to work with swollen eyes. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to write more before Christmas. I know how much you wanted to see this Christmas…I promise to honor you and hope you’ll “be there” for it. Love you Mom. I’m really sorry.

Like a ton of bricks

Dear mom,

Yesterday I took a wreath that Lori and I made to your grave. When I found you I was sick to my stomach. Your grave was completely covered up by grass and weeds. It literally grew over your stone. I wish I would have taken a picture so I could complain to the office but I wasn’t even thinking about that. I just started getting it all off of the stone. I feel so guilty now for not going sooner, it’s obviously been too long. Of course no one else goes to see you. Makes me sick. I’m sorry about that. I know you saw it and it drove you nuts to not be able to get down there and fix it.  I didn’t cry for the first time. Lori was with me, I think that’s why. I wish it wasn’t such a far drive and that I could go there more frequently. Sigh. Sorry mom.

We came home and relaxed for the day. We ended up watching a movie about two best friends and one gets cancer and dies. You would not believe how that movie knocked me down. I cried so hard I felt my stomach cave in. I was gasping for air. Lori got in the shower and I went into the bedroom and hunched over on the bed and just wept. It literally hit me like a ton of bricks. It seems to get worse with time. Every time I see your picture I just say “I can’t believe it.” I really truly cannot believe that you’re gone. Forever. I look at your smile and get so sad that not only me, but no one…will ever get to see it again. The only thing that helps me is imagining you are actually reading these letters and see the little things I do to let you know I haven’t forgotten about you. Such as using the dishwater longer instead of draining it often. Also, I use the correct water level in the washing machine instead of keeping it on large load all the time. I talk to your picture, I talk to you. I never forget about you or the experience we went through together. Even though you had the worst of it, and suffered the most, my pain is much different from yours, and will last much longer. I’m so sorry you had such a shitty life. I’m just dreading my birthday. I am pretty sure I’ll be kept fairly busy but you’ll be on my mind constantly.

I love you mom. I love you so much and I miss you in a way that I never knew was possible. God  I wish I had the chance to do it all over again, but better. I truly hope you are finally happy, and finally at peace and finally “living” without fear or negativity. If not, then I at least hope you are nothing…that you just stopped to exist. I don’t know what I’m saying anymore.
Yananastain.