February 12, 2010. The day my life changed forever.
Friday morning. 8:30 am.
My Mom called that morning to let me know she was up and was getting ready to come over. She told me that she was going to get changed, brush her teeth and call her friend Kathy, who she hadn't talked to in a couple days, before she left the house. She said she'd call me in Pearland Parkway, just like she always did as she exited the Beltway so the kids could stand outside and watch for her car.
Friday morning. 9:45 am.
My Mom called and I almost missed her call. She was on Pearland Parkway and I picked up the phone just as she was leaving the front of a message on the answering machine. I sent Joshua outside to the sidewalk where he waited and greeted Adda upon her arrival.
Friday morning. 10:00-11:00 am.
My Mom had brought over a hat box that belonged to my Grandma Nufer with about 20 vintage hats and 3 vintage dresses in it. She showed me the box, the hats and the dresses and said they'd be perfect for my photography. She was really excited to give me the hat box that morning. She also had an antique fish holder that she had bought at an antique stores years before that she wanted Kevin to have. So, we looked over the hats, played with them on Sarah's head and laughed and joked around. We were so happy! It truly was a perfect morning for us. Eventually I went and took a quick shower, changed and came out to see Adda, Josh and Sarah sitting on the sofa together in the living room. They were all three having fun together. Again, so happy! I just remember sitting down in the love seat for a minute and watching them all sitting there. Sarah was on the left side of her and Joshua on the right side. Adda was scratching Joshua's back and rubbing his hair and she told me "He loves to have his back scratched like this". I told her that I knew and we just smiled at him. Sarah had two baby dolls and she was showing Adda her babies. She kept saying "Baby! Baby! Baby!"! Adda replied back several times "I love your babies!". We talked about Survivor and how we would watch it later no DVR together. We talked about the other shows we both watched and compared notes. We talked for a moment and then both agreed it was time for lunch. So, we got up, loaded the kids in the van and headed off to lunch.
Friday morning. 11:15 am.
We were headed to Kelley's Family Restaraunt for lunch and we left a little early because Jacob's Valentine's Party was at 1 pm. We both wanted to go to his party and celebrate with him. As we approached the stop sign at the end of my street my Mom noticed a garage sale sign. She said that we should stop and take a look. So, I drove up one street and took a left. As we pulled up at the garage sale we both noticed it was a garage sale with all baby and kid things. My Mom said "Why don't you just get out and look. I see a lot of pink clothes for Sarah". So, I said okay and I unbuckled myself. As I was getting out of the van she said jokingly "Are you sure you don't want to take Joshua with you?" as she laughed. I told her "No, that's okay!" and jokingly laughed back with her. I shut the door and headed up to the garage sale.
There were two ladies hosting the garage sale and immediately as I walked up they asked me if I was looking for something. I told them that I was looking for 18-24 month girl clothes. They both started filling a box for me and within two minutes I was paying them for the clothes and on my way back to the van. It was a quick trip!
I lifted the back door to the van and put the box into the rear end. I even said "Sarah made out like a bandit" as I shut the back door. I went around to the driver's side and opened the door. I noticed my Mom was leaning into the console of my van and appeared to be asleep. Her hair was down that day and sort of hanging in her face and to the side. I said to her "Wake up!". She never moved so I looked back at the kids at that point and noticed Joshua's eyes were filled with tears. I then sort of nudged her and said "Wake up, Mama!". I could feel her dead weight against my hand so I thrust both hands into her shoulder and said "OMG, Mama, Wake up!". At that point I started yelling. "Please, Help me! My Mom is unresponsive and she has heart problems". I ran around the back of the van and the two women hosting the garage sale were already at her door opening it. The younger of the two women pushed her up into her seat and I immediately saw her face was blue/grey. Her mouth was gaping open and she had no muscle control in her face. My heart immediately sank into my chest, I fell to the ground and I just kept yelling "Mama!".
I asked several times if she had a pulse and for someone to call 911. About this time people just starting coming from everywhere. Neighbors from houses that I'd never seen before. It was all confusion and chaos. All of a sudden my neighbor from across the street came running up and said "That's my neighbor! And that's her Mom! I'm a nurse!". It was Angie, my sweet neighbor across the street, that is indeed a nurse. She immediately checked my Mom and said "She doesn't have a pulse, we need to start CPR!". She pulled my Mom from the van, someone came with a huge bedspread and laid it on the grass and she started CPR on my Mom. I was in the grass, up on my feet, back in the grass. I was extremely scared, distraught and confused. In my heart I knew she was gone. I had primal screams coming from deep within my soul that I just let out. Strangers were hugging me. The kids were in the van and a neighbor had gotten in with them keeping them occupied. I just remember looking up at Sarah at one point in her car seat and she was smiling the biggest grin. They really were clueless as to what was going on. Joshua later recollected that Adda just went to sleep in the van.
There were several things I won't forget. Phone calls being made on my behalf by strangers. Me being handed the phone to 911 and me tossing it into the grass so I could scream my Mom's name into the sky as I threw my head back and yelled "NO!". I was cold. So cold. Shaking cold. Angie on my Mom pounding her chest. My Mom's face in the van. My Mom's shoes flying off of her feet as she was pulled from the van. The intense pain I felt during everything. Every single bit of it. Pain and Loss.
Eventually the EMS showed up and they started working on my Mom in the yard. They told me that she still continued to not have a pulse at that point, but their machines were picking up "heart activity". They performed CPR on her in the yard for a very long time. They were very conscience of me and would pull the comforter up around her so I couldn't directly see her.
Finally, the moved her into the ambulance where they continued to work on her. I was sitting in the van watching the ambulance sway from side to side. My mind just envisioned them in the yard performing CPR on top of her. I could tell and see what they were doing with her even without me visually seeing it. As I sat I had police detectives, EMS, even a preacher standing there asking me questions and talking to me. The kids were taken by a neighbor into their house to keep them warm. Kevin was called and he showed up soon after they loaded her in the ambulance. My Dad was on his way from work.
The EMS finally left and we followed the ambulance to the hospital. We went into the ER and were taken immediately into a "family room". I already knew in my heart she was gone at that point and we just sat and waited. Two female doctors finally came into the room and you could immediately tell she was gone. I knew before the words came from her mouth that she was gone. I put my eyes into my hands and slumped over in tears. I cried into Kevin's chest and just cried some more. Tears. Never so many tears. My pain was immeasurable. My Mom, My Best Friend, My Children's Adda, was gone. The words "I'm so sorry" just didn't seem like enough. I was swallowed with grief and enraptured in immense pain that I'd never felt before this day.
We sat for a long time and my Dad wasn't at the hospital yet. It finally came back to me that he was told to come to my house by one of the neighbors at the scene. He doesn't have a cell phone so we couldn't call him. We told the hospital staff that we had to go to my house and get my Dad before we went into to say our good byes. We drove home and there he was sitting in his car (parked behind her car) in the front of my house. He immediately got out of his car and started walking toward our truck. I came around the side and I told him that he needed to sit down. He knew at that point she was gone and collapsed into his car. He crumbled. We held one another and cried. That, too, was extremely painful to deal with. Telling my Dad that she was gone.
We all drove back to the hospital together where I relived the whole thing. I filled him in on everything that took place that morning. He was in shock, just as I was. There were lots of tears. and emotions.
We went into the hospital and were directed to ER room #26. The room was dark and there was a white curtain in front of the door that we had to walk around. As I walked around the curtain there she was. Peaceful. Calm. Tranquil. She actually looked really beautiful laying there. I started talking. I talked and talked and talked. I told her so many things. I held her hand. I touched her face. I kissed her head. I played with her hair. I just loved her. I tried to soak in everything I could in those last moments together. I smelled her perfume. I looked at her tattoos again. I touched her. Everything about those last moments felt so final. My Dad and Kevin were in the room with me and we all took our time in telling her good bye.
We finally left the hospital. We had a red specimen bag filled with her belongings and that was it. I kept telling Kevin that I couldn't leave. I wanted to take her with me. It was the hardest thing to physically walk out of there without my Mom. The reality of everything felt humongous on my shoulders. Here I was walking out with my Dad and Kevin, but without my Mom. Forever. My best friend was gone.
We came home. We sat in the living room in shock. The hat box sitting on my kitchen table where she placed it before she left. Her PT Cruiser parked outside on the street where she parked it. Her purse and the shoes that flew off of her feet sitting in the passenger side of my van. Everything, just as she had left it. Me, just like she had left me. My emotions were raw. My pain unspeakably painful.
The days and nights to follow have been hard. I miss my Mom with every ounce of my soul. I am a woman of faith so I know that she's with God in the kingdom of heaven. I am a believer. My heart knows she's in a better place and she's in no pain. She suffers no more. She pains no more. She's happy and she's alive! It's my selfish side that misses her. I miss her laugh. I miss her jokes. I miss her. Just her. Just HER!
Today has been one month. One month I've gone on without her in my life. That seems so enourmous when you think about how close we had become. I can't even tell you how much I miss her. It's indescribeable and real. I find comfort in knowing that she'd want me to go on and care for her precious grand babies. She loved them so much! They were her everything. So, I trudge forward in life and know that she's there.... just not in the way I'd want her to be.
RIP Mama. RIP Adda. We miss you so much!