Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December First and December Third

Hey lookey here, it's the week of crappy anniversaries! December. Is it me or do unfortunate things happen more this time of year? Please pass the eggnog.

December 1, 2002. I could write a thesis about how completely painful and unexpected this week (month? year?) was, I imagine similar to having your front teeth knocked out while bowling. I was 26, had just started a new job as a copy writer for the Home Shopping Network. I was breaking for lunch during orientation when I saw my dad and brother pull up in the lot. What in the hell are they doing here? Seriously? Is this a surprise congrats-on-the-new-job-lunch?

Boy was it a big surprise. A big shitty one. They emerged from the car, faces red and swollen. Something was wrong. Very, very wrong.


Your mom is gone, Dad said.

Gone where? Gone back home?

Your mom is dead. She died last night. I found out this morning.

Where? What? What are you talking about Dad?

I'm sorry.


But see, I had just spent the weekend with her. So this news made zero sense to me. She was fine. I mean, she seemed a little quiet and distracted, like something was on her mind, but that's was how mom was. She was living down in Melbourne with her new husband. I hadn't seen her in a few months. We ran around Target during Black Friday and shopped for my brother Corey and my dad. She picked out a red sweater for me. We drove by an upscale assisted living facility - she joked about me putting her there someday. I talked her into sushi that night, something she'd never tried. She didn't like it. She thought it was funny I did. It was chilly outside, she wore an over sized coat. We walked through the mall. She told me I would always be her baby.

We planned on another day of shopping but in the morning mom said she wasn't feeling well. A stomach bug, or maybe the sushi? She looked pale, concerned. She checked her blood sugar a lot. She was a type 1, a diabetic since she was nine.

Mom insisted I go. I said no, but she thought maybe it was the flu. She didn't want me to worry. She wanted to rest. She said I'll see you for Christmas Eve, let me know what the plans are. She helped me and my dog into the car and then stood on the porch, waved goodbye. She stood out there waving until I turned at the end of her street. That was the last time I ever saw her.

I called her when I made it home, she said she was doing much better and able to hold food down. I called the next day. Three times. No answer. I had no idea she was in the hospital. Her husband never called. Mom went septic from a UTI. And being diabetic her little immune system couldn't fight the massive infection. It shut her whole body down. She died without any of us by her side. She was 48.

The next week was a big blur - a week full of phone calls to the medical examiner, visits to the funeral home. I remember my dad (not her husband) swiping his credit card for the expenses. I remember my brother and I. We drove back to Melbourne sometime in the middle of that week to collect her belongings. I was just there the week before...? We asked the husband if we could have her recipe box. It was packed with all the things she cooked for us as kids. He said no. Corey and I went through her closet and laid a handful of her clothes on the bed. We had to pick something to bury her in. We narrowed it down to the flowery dress she wore to my FSU graduation, or the little jeans and white t-shirt she wore all the time. We went with the more casual ensemble.

I have no idea whatever happened to that recipe box. It has been my mission for 8 years to find it, but I can't even find her then husband. I imagine it got tossed at some time. At Christmas a few weeks later we opened the presents she bought while shopping with me. I guess she'd wrapped them the night before the hospital. Her husband had passed them along to us at the funeral.

December 3, 2008. Mia turned 16 months old that day. I was up at the pediatrician to ger her a flu shot. It was a routine visit.


She has a runny nose, the nurse said. Is she sick?

Mia's had a runny nose for a few weeks now, but nothing else. Except recently I've noticed she's soaking her diapers. And she seems very thirty all the time.

Do you have diabetes in the family?

Yes. My mother had it. My brother is also type 1, diagnosed at 18. I know these are red flags. But she is too young. Could you check her sugar so I can stop worrying?

Mia's blood sugar is 587.

What does that mean?

I'm sorry.


So I don't really even know what to write from here. If you've read the the Mia's Story post you know where this all goes. I guess I just wanted to put it out there, how much this week hurts my head. And my heart. It takes my breath away to think about it. My daughter is fighting the same disease that played a big part in killing my mom. I hate diabetes. But I am lucky to have caught it in Mia before she got incredibly sick. I'm not sure how much more time would have passed until then? She was on her way.

And I am tired. The kids are asleep for now and there's clean sheets on the bed. Mia's blood sugar is 162. My alarm is set again for the 3 am check.

2 comments:

corey said...

This really helped me a lot. I'll never get over losing mom nor will I understand it but it was nice seeing your recollection of it. I guess my way of coping is to put it out of my mind and this was refreshing to read. Love you and here's to us building our families bonds more and more everyday.

Amy said...

Marissa . . . you write so beautifully. I am sure it wasn't easy putting this down on 'paper', but thank you for sharing.

I hope you are able to rest and wake up with a fresh hope of the good to come later in the month.

Oh, and I LOVE clean sheet night!!!!! ;)

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