Submitted Date 07/08/2019

This is mainly for me to get out my feelings, what I feel, and how I think, so it may not be something everyone can relate to, but if it helps someone, I'm glad. I lost my mom, Jody, in March. She was diagnosed with a terminal neurological disease called Multiple System Atrophy (MSA). While originally diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, she was later diagnosed with MSA and we knew that MSA was not a good diagnosis. The disease is fatal, in every case. We knew we would lose her at some point, we just didn't know exactly when. In August of 2018, hospice care came in and began to manage all her medications and introduce a caregiver. Let me say that we are extremely grateful for her caregivers. They did a great job, and enabled us (my dad and I) to keep working while knowing my mom was being taken care of too. They also allowed my mom to stay in our house, and not be forced to go to an assisted living facility. I will always be grateful she spent her last months at home, her favorite place.

She died on March 23rd, ending an almost five-year battle with MSA. On one hand, I was grateful. I was grateful that her pain was over, and that the misery of the disease was over. She went through a lot, and fought it as best as she could. At her viewing, I had a chance to see her and it was the most peaceful she had looked in that five year time. She was finally able to stop fighting her own body. She finally had some peace. The day she died, and the week after, seem like a blur, now. For that week, I went to work everyday except for one, and pretty much existed, without much thought to anything else. I wanted to get back to work, because that's where I felt I should be. I didn't feel like I was any use sitting at home, distraught. Much of the sadness and grief I've felt has come after that first week. The grief has come in waves, but usually hits the hardest around holidays. Even though we didn't celebrate Easter very much, I did miss her a little more on Easter. I missed her a lot on Mother's Day, and on her birthday, June 24th. My fiance and I visited her grave on her birthday, with my dad, and left flowers. I knew, once we knew she was dying, that someday I'd have to talk to a headstone, instead of her. Talking to a headstone is a terribly one-way conversation, it seems. Mom was cremated, and her ashes placed in an urn. The urn is engraved with butterflies, one of her favorite animals, and the one that resembles her spirit the best.

This year has been such a whirlwind. My fiance and I bought a house in January, moving in together at that time. We got engaged February 15th, just about a month before my mom died. It has been the best, and worst, year of my life thus far. I suppose 2019 will be a year that shapes the rest of my life, and I will try my best to turn the negative portions of it into something positive. The good parts (house buying and engagement), I did with the knowledge that my mom was dying, and that she probably had very little time left. I was glad that she was here for that. On Christmas 2018, I watched her open her Christmas presents, for what I knew would be the last time. There is some grace in knowing that death is coming, because it allows you to cherish each moment a little more, knowing what's coming. However, with grace comes pain. I spent a lot of time during the final months grieving, knowing that these special moments were the last special moments we would have as a full family. I don't know if losing a mom later in life would feel any different, but losing a mom so young seems out of order. I thought the same thing when some of my friends lost their mothers or fathers. It seems unfair to her too. Most of her family lived into their 80s or 90s, and she left us at 59. She lived a life that full, but cut short.

I guess I still don't know how to feel. Most days I feel like I do well, but I can't help but feel the change inside me. I know there is a spark that's gone. It shows itself when I don't get the same look of joy in my eye at something that usually made me excited. I can feel it, but I can't help it. The cloud of grief still hovers over me. It's only been three months, so it should still hurt. One of the greatest pains I feel is that there's so much she's going to miss. My fiance and I's marriage and relationship, our career paths, her sports that she loved, and Christmas (her favorite holiday). There will still be joy when I decorate for Christmas this year, but it will come with pain. I feel pain too, knowing that the remainder of my life will be lived without her, here. Whether or not you believe in spiritual things, and I'm not even sure what I believe, it seems like she's come to visit sometimes, here and at my dad's house. I know she'll always be with me, in one way or another, but of course it's not the same as having her here. I'm thankful for my fiance, my dad, and family. They've all been great, and we've tried our best to deal with this together.

My mom was tough. She didn't take shit from anyone, but was willing to help people and do the right thing. She's volunteered for my kindergarten teacher, helping her with things long after I left kindergarten. She did great at her job, but most of all, she was a great mother and wife. She was tough, tenacious, and the drive behind my ambition to go after the things I want in life. I hope that I can make her proud.

On Saturday, we placed her urn into the bench at the cemetery. Right after she was placed in the bench, a strong wind came through. I felt her. It was peaceful, as if she was saying that she's okay now. I saw her two days before she died, and got to hug her. It would serve sort of as my "see you later" moment, to her. I don't believe in goodbyes. My dad saw her the morning she died, he was actually the last thing she saw- a fitting way for her to go. She loved us so much, and we loved her. She didn't see my fiance, Courtney, the week before she died, but Courtney's "see you later" moment would come later. My mom died on the morning of March 23rd. That afternoon, Courtney and I were walking our dog, and a butterfly flew directly into her, actually colliding with her, before it flew off. Call me crazy, but I think that was mom's spirit, saying she was okay. I've never been good at talking through my feelings, writing them has always been better.

Overall, this was more of a post about what's going on in my head than anything else. If it helps someone else, that's great. I hope it does. On her grave is a quote that describes her "I did it my way." She lived her way, and did and said what she thought was right. I hope to do the same. I'm sad for the time we won't get to spend together, but grateful for the time we did. The pain hurts, but love and gratitude will always outweigh the pain. I'll do my best to carry on her legacy of helping others, and being tough. She was the best.

3/23/19- See you later, Mom


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