A Deathiversary

There are just some days when memories are so vivid. Some happy, some painful. Like today. A “deathiversary,” as I call it. The anniversary of either of my parent’s deaths is always hard. Always. I can’t help but feel like I was cheated, losing both parents by the time I was 24.

I was 16 when my dad died of a horrific disease known as Lou Gherig’s Disease (ALS) at age 45, and two years ago today, my mom died of multiple organ failure at age 54. In the following 4 months, I would lose my remaining 3 grandparents as well. Talk about a stressful year.

4 months before she died.

Anyhow, both my parents were amazing people, and I have nothing but fond memories of my childhood. Even though they’re gone, I know I’m lucky. I know they did their best to raise independent, intelligent, kind, creative, loving daughters. I’m so happy with my life and I’m proud of who I am today…I feel strongly that both my parents would be too, and that makes me smile. I’m incredibly fortunate to have had them in my life, even for a little while, and I know that.

My sister, Mom, Stepdad (Jeff), and myself at their wedding in 2006.

I was SO close with my mom. She was my default “call” on a long drive to talk. We talked every day. I knew her not only as a mother, but as a person…and I’m so grateful she was my mom. She was compassionate, caring, and always put herself first (to a fault). When I was a teenager, we had our differences, but who doesn’t? And nothing was unforgivable. She was my constant supporter, cheerleader, and best friend. She was hilarious and had a dirty, dirty mind (so funny to learn about your parents!). She was the strongest, most positive person I know, and she intentionally and consciously looked at life with a “glass half-full” attitude. And I will always admire her inner strength…she went through several battles in life that would have broken or scarred any other individual. She was a fighter. I love my family so much, and I’m so proud she was my mom.

Parasailing in Mexico 2009.

I remember after she died (both my parents, really), the worst part is feeling like life goes on. The world keeps spinning, even though your world has stopped. If you’ve ever lost someone close, I’m sure you know what I mean. The worst thing you can say to someone is: “I know how you feel.” It’s such a selfish thing to say! Everyone experiences things differently, so even if you lost a parent too, you cannot presume to know how I feel. Urgh. Never say that to anyone who has lost someone, please. Under any circumstances.

Anyhow, today on her “Deathiversary,” I think about that day two years ago. About how she was at home with hospice on a ventilator and the nurses knew it was coming. Her heartbeat slowed. Her breathing slowed. And we all held her hand as she took her last breath. I remember I felt an overwhelming sadness, and a sense of relief…she was no longer in pain. I still think of her all the time. It would be impossible to forget with the daily reminders…a mug I have from her sailing days in the ’70s, Dancing with the Stars, Andrea Bocelli, Santana, books she bought McKenzie. I find I have a hard time getting rid of things she got McKenzie. But that’s just it…I’ll always miss her. The world feels like it stops, but life goes on. And you just live, because you know they would want you to.

Mall of America, 2007.

On another note, my sister wrote this and it echos my sentiments exactly…it’s just beautiful and perfect:

Dear Mom,

I’m done being mad at the world because you’re gone. I’ve cried countless times in the past two years and will keep crying because I can’t hold your hand, because I can’t hear your laugh or encouraging words, because I don’t find paper towels in my clothes you borrowed, because you’re gone and I miss you every single day, but I won’t be mad. You were the best cheerleader in the world. You taught me about love, about holding my head high, about persistence, about determination, and about life. But I still need to keep telling myself I’m glad you’re gone. You’re not suffering. You’re not in pain…I love you mom. Always have. Always will. I hope I can be as amazing as you were. I hope I can be that cheerleader for [my daughter]. I hope I will turn into that voice in her head telling her to keep it up, to keep going, telling her she’s loved. I’m so sad that your gone, but refuse to say goodbye, and never will, so I’ll see you later.

I love you with all my heart and soul.

♥ Your Daughters

My mom holding Abbey (my niece) and Jeff holding McKenzie.

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11 thoughts on “A Deathiversary

  1. Nicole…beautiful! And thanks for making me cry right in the middle of class as I read this. lol I think what both of you girls wrote was just perfect…though I must say, I’m kind of sad not to see a picture of Sue and Mark (since you referenced him).

  2. Thinking of you today Nicole. Beautiful words you (and your sister) have written. I know I didn’t know your mom very well at all, but I will always have the fond memory of her coming out with us freshmen year! Her fun-loving spirit and kind soul were evident even then when she was putting up with our silly antics!

    • Girls,

      Oh my God you are both so amazing and I love you dearly. She was and will continue to love you and be so proud of how wonderful you are. You have precious daughters, loving husbands and have grown up to be responsible, lovely young ladies. I am sure glad her memories will be with me for life and that I have the greatest additions to my family that a man could ever want. Thank you girls, thank you Sue and God bless the memories of all the special people we have lost.

      Love Always,
      Jeff & Dexter

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