My mother was my best friend. Not always, but I feel as we grow older, we realize how important our parents are to us. I'm happy that I realized this early in my teen years because I had no way to know that I would lose my mother so young, she was just 57, myself being just 24 at the time. Cancer does not discriminate in who it takes.
It was October 31st, 2017 at about 4:15pm when you passed away. I'm always early for things, but for this I was just late, I wasn't there to say my final goodbye to you. It was long, those couple days in the hospital. Rarely going home to sleep, sitting by your side although you couldn't speak. I remember when we first brought you thinking that this was it, preparing myself because I knew it would be the next couple days in which I would lose you.
When we first got there, you were still able to speak although you didn't make a lot of sense due to the tumours impeding on your brain. However, I have such a vivid memory of when they finally got you a bed up on a floor, you needed to go to the bathroom, but the nurses were finishing their shifts, so they didn't want to take you. I stood up and was about to take you – I knew how to hold you because I had been doing it at home for the past year – but the nurses stopped me because it was in your chart that it had to be two nurses. All you had to do was pee, and they were depriving you of this. So, I yelled at them. The nurse said, "I can't do it, my shift ends in five minutes" and I flipped.
"So then you have five minutes to do this – you aren't done your shift," I nearly screamed – I think I scared everyone in the room because I'm not usually like that, but you were in pain, they weren't treating you like a patient, like a human.
They didn't end up bringing you, we had to wait for the night nurses to do it – this took another 10 minutes of you holding your bladder. I regret that this is the last thing I remember from that day, the last day you spoke clearly to us.
The next morning, your best friend Janet had come to visit – she had been there through it all, of course – and when I got there, soon after her, she told me that you talked a little to her but then stopped. Closed your eyes and fell into the coma which you would be in for the remainder of the time – only a day.
I regret not remembering a lot of what had gone on in the hospital in those short days, everything was so overwhelming. On that second day they finally got a bed for you in the hospice wing; it was quiet there; lives were ending there.
From that moment on, it was just family. Your children – Shannon, Kaitlin, Ryan and I – your husband, your sisters Cathy and Lynn, Shannon's husband Aaron, Katie's boyfriend Joe, Ryan's girlfriend at the time, Jane. Your grandchildren were there too – Hayden and Parker, and baby Mark. The small room was packed most of the time unless the kids weren't there because they were in the family room on the wing, or if anyone had gone home to sleep a little.
That night I went home to sleep and at 3 in the morning I got a call from Shannon to tell me that you woke up and were semi-lucid; I instantly jumped in the car and drove over. I don't think I even changed from my pyjamas.
When I got there, your eyes were open, those beautiful blue eyes which you gave to all of your children. I sat beside you and held your hand, crying, I told you that it was okay to let go, that we would all be okay. I told you not to be scared and in a flash moment, it was like you were back to your normal self; the look you gave me with a roll of your eyes and a scoffing sound, I was in complete shock and it made us all laugh. We couldn't believe that you had come through like that, as if to answer me and say "you try not being scared".
We prayed for you, we sang a little for you, but soon you returned into your coma state. We all stayed there, laying awkwardly on the couches, trying to get as comfortable as possible. At some point, Ryan and I decided we would go home to have a nap and come back soon.
I woke up to a call from dad saying to come to the hospital quick because it was happening, you were going. Both Ryan and I ran to get our shoes on when I got a second call from dad saying it was a false alarm but still come very quick. Ryan took his own car, and I took the van. I didn't drive as quickly as I could have, and I think there is a reason for that. Ryan beat me to the hospital but took a phone call before going up to see you, and I think there is a reason for that too. We took the elevator together and when we got off and through the doors, dad was standing in the hall crying, nodding to us that you had passed. I didn't cry right away. Dad took us into a hug but I wriggled my way out and walked quickly to your room to see you – laying there, your eyes were closed, your bed was sat up a little, your hands were by your side with your palm down, your mouth was open. That bugged me; your mouth being open. I asked why it was open, could we close it, but they couldn't – it would just open again.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, that there is something out there that can guide us, and that our loved ones do pass on but don't leave us. That day, I don't think you wanted Ryan and I to see you pass away which is why both of us had things happen that blocked us from seeing you; we were just five minutes late. I think you wanted to protect your youngest children, your babies.
I lied. I lied to you when I told you that it was okay for you to move on from us. I don't think I have ever needed you more than I need you now. I said it because I wanted to help you pass on, we all believed that it helps when someone is dying to tell them that we will be okay, and it's okay for them to go. I think you knew I lied to you; you knew me so well.
We always talked about me finding love, when it would happen, with who; and of course, I found just a couple months after you passed, but I don't think I would have ever met him if you were still alive. His name is Stephen, he's Irish, and I know you would love him. I don't tell many people this but I believe that you brought him to me. You always knew I wanted an Irish man, and he came into my life when I was finally doing well after you passed, I was ready to let new people in, and that's when he came along. You would be so proud of me, the fact that I moved to Ireland – the place you know where I always said I would end up living.
I miss our storm talks. The way when a strong, brilliant lightening storm was going on, we would sit on the front porch to watch and talk about whatever came to mind. That is one thing that I have that's special between you and I, something we shared and didn't invite anyone else in on.
I miss talking to you in general, telling you everything going on in my life from the littlest of things to the massive things. I wish I had you here so I could talk to you about my relationship, to get advice from you that dad really can't give (sorry dad). You knew every part of me, I held nothing back, told you almost everything, and I miss having someone like that around.
The thing I miss the most is just hugging you. Your hugs made all my stresses melt away, your hug was my home.
Sometimes, at night, when I'm curled up in the dark and can't sleep, I'll talk to you, I'll ask you for signs. I've stopped telling people when I get them because I believe now it's something special between just us – whether it be a song that's playing on the radio that is never usually on the radio and is really old, to it being a picture that captures my eye at a store that holds a meaning to me about you.
A lot of these things I don't talk about with others, but it feels freeing to write it all down. To write about everything from my point of view, to get it down on paper feels good.
I know you're physically gone, but I don't believe you've really left. I still feel you sometimes, and you're still present in every single one of my siblings. You are the strongest woman I know. Also, usually you would be the funniest, most brilliantly witty person in the room. Your smile could light miles, and your eyes were always so bright. No one will ever be able to replace you, or the impact you had on my life, and I don't want anyone to do so.
I love you so much Patricia Ellen Foley. You were the best mother anyone could have asked for.
I'll love you forever,
I'll like you for always,
As long as I'm living,
My mommy you'll be.