Those 12 Days

I will never again be able to look at the week of St. Patrick’s Day the way I looked at it prior to March of 2020. My love of the day and everything about it ran very deep. It truly was my favorite holiday. March 14th, which to the rest of the world will forever be Pi Day, will for me forever be the day I put my mom in hospice. That day was the catalyst that set in motion a series of changes that have forever altered the course of my life. Catalytic events, as we call them in the Life Coaching business, are not always bad things, this one in particular was, but sometimes we need those events to happen in order to push us in ways we didn’t know we needed pushed.

I don’t remember the person I was before this week two years ago, which is super weird to me, in fact when I think about her it almost feels uncomfortable, unfamiliar, like maybe I made the “Tiffany before” entirely up in my mind. I know for sure that the “before Tiffany” cared entirely too much about what her workplace thought of her. That she spent 8 incredibly long years trying to fit in a box she was never going to fit in. That she thought her fathers passing was the catalytic event that would change the course of her life. I know she thought so many things that were not at all true about herself.

I remember March 14th as if it happened yesterday. I remember driving to Canton to meet with the Hospice nurses. I remember the resolve my mother possessed. The confidence with which she had made this decision. I remember her laughter. I remember her belief, absolute definitive belief, that this was a minor glitch in her quest to get better. I remember thinking I am going to have to have her discharged from Hospice, so we can take her to Nebraska to watch Bella get married. How much she assured me she would be well enough to go. I remember feeling relief that she was done with tests, needles, probes, machines (other than her O2,) Dr’s offices, and emergency rooms. I remember how relieved I was that someone else was monitoring her medicine, that I could take a break. I remember feeling for one minute, my own peace that this life long battle she had endured had come to a peaceful resolution. I have never been more wrong about anything in my life.

Someday I may love St. Patrick’s Day again. I know she would want that for me. I know that she hates how much my heart hurts and will continue to hurt for the rest of my life on all of the days between March 14th and March 26th. Those 12 days changed everything about me. They rocked the very fiber of my being to my core. I learned things I did not want to learn. I found courage I did not know I even had to find. I suffered immeasurable loss. Each year, as these days roll back around, I am right back there. I am right back to feeling every single emotion that I felt and I can assure you that I felt every emotion a human can feel. I may never ever be able to look at my favorite holiday the same again and I understand that and I have embraced that. What I recall now when I think about it is not the fun outing I planned every year to gather all of the most important people in my life for a rousing day of shenanigans, but rather the moment her and I realized that it was St. Patrick’s Day. And how almost instantly I felt profound sadness that I ever cared about the day like I used to. It was just a day right? Nothing special about it. But I remember the robe she was wearing, she loved robes. I remember her face. I remember the way the words sounded coming out of her mouth as she said, “oh I hate that you are here with me babysitting when you should be out with your friends.” How I assured her that I would not be having any fun if I was, that I would be worrying about her falling. How she lit up ever so slightly when she remembered the gnome sweatshirt Emily O had brought her, could I please go get it. I remember us trying to get it on her without twisting her O2 tube. I remember how she swam in it because she was so thin. I remember us naming her gnome Liam because it meant strong willed warrior and protector and how we were positive he would look out for her. I remember her strawberry shakes and her Luigi’s Italian Ice that she insisted on having every morning. And the little green gloves she wore to keep her hands from freezing. The towel we had to lay down whenever she ate so she didn’t spill on her favorite flannel pajamas.

These next 12 days I will replay and remember all of it in my mind, like a silent movie. My Facebook memories will remind me should I dare forget. These next 12 days I will be right back there, trying to make decisions for her that were not mine to make. Trying to stay on top of her meds. Trying to keep the house quiet so she could rest. Trying to maintain my own job. Wondering what day she would go back to the very place she came from. On March 14th I did not know that day would be March 26th. But for 12 days I existed with the most profound sadness I have ever carried in my life. Each day bringing a new challenge, a new corner to turn, a new painful lesson to learn.

I think about her every single day. I go to bed every night saying goodnight to a picture of her as she was a little girl. But every year for the rest of my life there will be 12 days that I cannot forget, no matter how busy I keep myself. It is in those days that I need to remind myself the most what it means to honor her. It is in those days that I remember how much a life can be altered in just 12 days.

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