Wednesday, November 12, 2014

One Year Later

Today marks one year of my mom passing away. The last several days have been really rough, leading up to today; leading up to this morning, actually. My husband hasn't said anything, but I’m sure he’s realized what an absolute DELIGHT I've been over the last week or so. But I know he wouldn't say anything rude himself, since his own mother is gone too.

But the actual time of her death has come and gone, and for some bizarre reason, I feel a little lighter now, in this instance, than I have lately. I don’t know why, other than the weight of the day hanging over my head the way it has. In a way, it’s much like once we got home from our visit post-Mom visit home when we spread her remains. I came home with bronchitis, and sick as a dog, but I survived that trip. I have survived today, as well.

I can’t call it an anniversary, because to me, an anniversary invokes celebrating something good, not marking the worst day of your life. I try to remind myself of something Mom used to say, when we found out the cancer was terminal: the cancer was winning, but once she died, she would be the winner. When she died, it meant the cancer wouldn't be able to continue to try to take over her body.

I still don’t know if I believe that. The last time she said that to me, we were in the living room back home. I was sitting on the floor. She was laying on the couch. I told her that was a pretty shitty way to win. She agreed and then said, “It is what it is.”

Jesus Christ, I will forever fucking HATE that phrase: “It is what it is.” I know she said it because she was helpless with her health and she did accept everything that was happening to her, but I will forever hate that phrase.

My smile for today, and I’ll probably cry as I write this, is the story of my mom trying to take care of my father’s old computer. This story makes my friends scream with laughter when I tell it to them for the first time.

Several years ago, maybe 6-7 years, my father decided it was time to replace his first computer with a newer model. Keep in mind, he had his first computer for 4-5 years and knows NOTHING about how to really use it. If there was a computer that would take you only to YouTube and Gmail, I think that’s the kind of computer he’d need. So, he brings the new computer home, moves the old one into the laundry room and sets it on the floor (with it’s great big ol’CRT monitor), sets up the new one on his desk, and goes to work. That evening, my mom calls me.

“I want to know what to do with the old computer,” Mom says. “How do I take care of it?”

“What do you mean, Mom? Take care of it how?” I ask her. It’s a weird request, coming from her. Over the years, she sent me exactly ONE email from my father’s account. She just didn’t enjoy it. She’d rather talk on the phone.

“He doesn't need the old computer anymore, so I want to know what to do with it so I can toss it out in the garbage and no one can get any info off of it.” Ah ha! Now she’s making sense. Never mind the fact my father has NOTHING personal on his hard drive: no financial stuff, no banking or bill info. Only his email address book.

“Oh, that’s easy Mom. Just call Josh and tell him the next time he’s there, to remove the hard drive from the tower. He can either keep it as a back up, or Shane will take it.” Josh is my brother-in-law and my father’s go-to local computer repair guy.

“So I don’t have to break it?”

“What? Break what, Mom?” This is getting weird again.

“The monitor. That’s where all the information and stuff lives, right?” When she said this, I had a vision all of a sudden: my mother had the monitor downstairs in the laundry room, sitting on top of spread out newspapers. The screen would be facing up, and she’s kneeled in front of it, a hammer in her cocked back arm, getting ready to swing down and break the screen into a million little pieces, so no one can access the information that doesn't exist and wouldn't live in there, even if it did exist.

“Holy shit, NO! Don’t break the monitor, Mom! You’ll just make a mess! Nothing lives in the monitor. It’s like a TV.”

“So what do I need to do then?”

“Leave it alone and let Josh take care of it. He’ll know what to do.”

Then things start getting even more hysterical, but she’s dead ass serious. “So I don’t have to break the monitor?”

“No. Put the hammer away.”

“What about the speakers? Do I need to break them?”

“No, the speakers can go straight into the garbage, and so can the keyboard and the mouse.” I remember I’ve got to break this down simple for her, because when it comes to computers, I look like a genius compared to my mom. And compared to my husband when it comes to computers, I look like a moron.

“So where does the information live then?” She sounds like she doesn't believe me.

“Okay, you see the tall beige/grey thing that used to sit on his desk next to the monitor? That’s called the tower. THAT’S where everything lives. Let Josh open that up and take out the hard drive. He’ll know what to do with it.”

“I don’t need to break that?” I swear, I think she just wanted to break something that night.

“No, and don’t even try to open it. There are a bunch of little parts inside of it and Josh only needs to remove one of them. I wouldn't even be able to describe it to you well enough for you to be able to find it anyway.”

“Okay, I’ll just leave it alone until Josh comes home with your sister next.” She actually sounded a little bummed out at this point.

So that was the story of my mom trying to prep an old computer to be tossed out for the garbage men to pick up. It makes me smile every time I think about it. I’m sure that right now, if she’s able, she knows I’m writing about that night and she’s all put out and little offended that I would find that conversation funny. She’d say something like, “Hey now, don’t make fun of me! I didn't know any better!” And then she’d probably try to go for the sympathy/pity effect: “You should be ashamed of yourself, making fun of your poor old mother with cancer!” We heard that a few times over the years. It’s weird that we (me, my sister and Mom) could actually make cancer jokes and she’d be the target. I don’t think me and my sister would be able to do those jokes anymore, because they just wouldn't be funny.

One year down. It just can’t be. Didn't I just talk to her on the phone last week? Didn't I just see her the week before that?

I still miss you Mom, just as much as I did when it happened. I don’t know that this year has made it any easier to deal with a life in which you’re not a part of anymore.


  1. Oh Amy, What a great post. What a funny story. I can picture her holding a hammer too. My heart breaks for you tho. Life is not fair a lot of the time.

  2. :) It gets better, but there are times I think maybe I should have gone for some kind of counseling or something before she passed. I still don't sleep very well at night and I dream about her once a month.