My Mother's Gift

"Melancholy. Remembering. It was 11 years ago this very night. I still miss her. Love you, Mom."
That's what I just posted as my Facebook status. I'm thinking, "what an odd thing to share with 150 people, some of whom have little close contact with me." Yet, that's how I feel. It's who I am. And the part of me that used to be afraid for people to know who I really am is overtaking the fearful part. Just a little bit. Every day.

I was standing at the stove making dinner – a pot of goulash, one of Mom's specialties. I was feeling grateful that this dish that is allowed in the restrictive new diet I am living with. That led me to contemplate the odd concept that this insulin resistance is part curse, part gift from my mother.

Mother.

That's when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I felt the ghosts of the emotions I felt 11 years ago tonight. I was making dinner that Monday evening when I picked up the ringing phone to my sister's sobs. She said, "Nila. It's Maria. Mom's down. They've taken her to the hospital. I'm on my way there." I just said, "I'll be there as soon as possible." I hung up the phone and fell to my knees wailing. I knew the moment had come. The moment I dreaded. I'd lost my mother.

Steve and I packed up our infant son and drove the 45 minutes northeast to St. John's Hospital in Anderson, Indiana. I remember walking through the sterile emergency waiting room, through the powered doors, making a right into one of the trauma rooms. The room seemed impossibly enormous. I only remember the walls, my father leaning against one, my sister against another. And, as if on an alter, I saw my mother on the bed, lifeless and cool. I smiled, put my hand on her and kissed her cheek. In that moment I felt her all around me, but not in that body. I was in her grace. And a rush of strength entered me.

The following week was a whirlwind. We made funeral arrangments, greeted many faces. And Mom was cremated on my father's birthday, that Saturday, May 2nd. I've always felt a certain sadness for my father that this act had to be on that day. They'd been married just shy of 50 years.

I've comtemplated that day a lot lately. Recently I was diagnosed with insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes, the disease that ultimately took my mother's life far too soon. I remember my mother's unspoken desire to have done more in her life, regrets over decisions she had made. As I consider similar thoughts in my own life, I am given the choice to follow the same path or to learn from my mother's journey, to fight for my health and my life and to make decisions that may be unpopular and painful for others, yet ultimately true to my own soul and better for all.

To my father, my brother and my sisters, my husband and my children: I love you dearly even though I might not say it enough.