So I’ve been MIA from the blog for some time now. Faaaarrrr too long…
There are many little reasons why but one HUGE one. I felt like I really couldn’t write about anything until I took the time to write THIS post.
It’s not going to be pretty but it needs to be…to be written. I need to get it out, just put it out there and be done.
So on with it! First…a little history… My biological mother suffered from alcoholism, chronic drug use, and mental health issues for most of my life. I haven’t had a real relationship with her since I was twelve. It was a messy childhood but my Dad and stepmom (who I call Mom…because basically she’s been the only ‘real’ mom any girl could ever have) did an ok job, at least I’d like to think so…I turned out pretty good. Right?
So my full sister and I pretty much shut her out of our lives. It was just easier that way. Every time we tried to let her back in our lives she’d relapse and it’d be a hot mess disaster again. She was in and out of jail, mental hospitals, rehabs, you name it she tried it. Our little hearts couldn’t handle it. Well, because we weren’t allowing her to be apart of our lives we sacrificed getting to spend time with our other two half sisters and the rest of our family members from that side. They all gave us our space and we periodically met up at graduations and special events without any real consistency.
When I had my boys, especially Hunter I felt like my wall with her went up even further. I desperately wanted to protect them from all things. Especially, the unknown. I didn’t even tell my bio mom that I was pregnant for fear that she would just show up at the hospital while I was giving birth. I know to some this may sound ridiculous and heartless. But this was the only way I knew I could protect my family. Although I do believe she had good intentions she was erratic and unpredictable.
On the flipside I always wished there was some way we could connect but I was afraid. Afraid for my family and afraid for my own heart. I truly hated that I couldn’t share my life and family with her. It would eat me up if I dwelled to long on it but I knew ultimately it was a sacrifice that I had no choice but to make.
When Hunter got sick I reached out to her for blood samples. We have been trying to do genetic sequencing for all the immediate family members to see if we could get some answers and find a link. She graciously helped when she could. We started talking more regularly, every couple of months…a tiny window of communication had begun. Our conversations weren’t very long but it was a beginning. Another beginning…one of many we’d had in the past…but I was holding out hope. Maybe things could be different.
She was well, had a part time job, and was on meds that seemed to be working. But as anyone who knows someone that suffers from an addiction it’s a rocky road.
So on December 12th I received a phone call from her. She wanted our new address so she could send the boys Christmas presents. We had a pretty easy conversation and then she told me that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. It had grown very quickly and had spread. She was currently undergoing chemo and was nearly done with her round of treatments. She said the cancer was responding well to the chemo and the docs were hoping that they wouldn’t have to operate at all. She said “don’t worry, I’ll be around to meet those grandbabies of mine one of these days.” And then she chuckled in that crazy raspy cackle.
I was completely blown away by her news. Utterly shocked…I didn’t believe her. The woman has lied so many times and as much as I was heartbroken for her I was skeptical. I immediately called my other two sisters and my ex-step dad (is that a thing?) and left messages. I wanted to confirm the information I had just heard.
I decided not to tell any of my immediate family members. I didn’t want to tell my sister or my parents until I knew the news was true, especially so close to the holidays. I finally got a FB response from one of my sisters, 4 days later, that confirmed the news and said the best person for me to talk with was my Aunt, as she had been going to the doc visits with my bio mom. My sis said she’d pass along my phone number to my Aunt so she could call and give me all the details. I wanted to know if the type of cancer she had was a type that had the genetic link. My bio mom had all girls (4 of us) and there was also all her own sisters. I thought it was an important question to have answered.
On Christmas Eve, around 1pm, I was taking a shower and I heard my phone ring. It went to voicemail. I saw that my Aunt had called and left a message. I finished getting ready. We were due to be at my parent’s house for dinner at 5. After I finished getting ready I listened to my voicemail and called my Aunt back. This was the first time I had talked to my Aunt in at least 12 years. And then she said, “Deanna, I hate to be the one to have to tell you this and especially on this day but your mother has passed away.”
Silence…I nearly dropped the phone. I just stood there, I didn’t know what to say. Then the tears fell.
She explained to me that my mother hadn’t died from cancer…which was my immediate thought. Like so many times before, no one had heard from her for a little over a week. So they went to check on her and found her dead. It appeared that she had hit her head and had bled out. The medication she was on for the cancer had thinned her blood and escalated the process. And she was drinking, there was an open bottle of vodka on the counter…dammit!!!!
After speaking with my Aunt I hung up the phone and told my husband. We decided not to tell the rest of my family until after Christmas. We didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s holiday and I knew telling them at that point wouldn’t change anything, so I decided to wait. I went to my sister’s house the following Wednesday after she returned from vacay and told her and then told my parents on Thursday.
Because there was some uncertainty on the cause of death, and to rule out any foul play, the city of LA performed an autopsy. The coroner determined it was blunt force trauma to the head and overall poor health that was the cause of her death. They believe her death occurred on December 13th, the day after we last spoke. If I’m truly honest then I’d confess that I fear she was drinking that day because she was overwhelmed by the fact that Christmas was rapidly approaching and she was dealing with sorrow and regret for how things were and how me having those feelings of guilt are sometimes completely and utterly overwhelming. I wish so desperately that things could have been different. Better. But I also know in my heart that they couldn’t haven’t been. It’s a tough place to be emotionally. And I’m still working through it. Honestly I may always be.
So my mother is dead. Well the person that grew me in her belly and brought me into the world is gone. All that just to get to this point. I’ve been dealing with a huge mixture of emotions and much like our relationship has been over the past 30 years it comes in waves. I also have a huge sense of relief. I’ve struggled over the past few months to try and feel O-K about feeling that way. She no longer has to suffer and even through all the ups and downs I do believe she found the Lord. I pray that she has found peace. True, real, warm peace and that gives me comfort. She lived a very, very hard life, I can’t even begin to imagine how hard it was for her. I have regret for not having a better relationship with her and especially for never giving her the chance to get to know her grandchildren. But, it’s over now. No more second guessing. I can not change the way things ended.
More then anything I needed to get this all out. I’ve been dreading it. Reliving it all over again, but I know for me I need to. This is why we started this blog. Life isn’t always pretty. It’s messy and tragic and confusing and dumb.