Monday, January 24, 2011

Remembering

Four years ago today, I was sitting in my classroom at my desk, doing something on my computer. I don't remember what. Grades, maybe? I had a room full of eighth graders working in noisy but efficient groups to get a project done. It was fifth period and my principal walked in. He did that several times a week as a way for the kids to know that he was paying attention to his campus and he knew what they were doing. (He was the best boss I ever had.) Instead of walking among them and observing their groups, or even standing in the corner to watch for a few minutes, he headed straight for my desk.


And I knew.

"Mrs. Jacobson, could you get your things and come with me? Mrs. Lightfeldt will be taking over your class."

I didn't even ask why. I scooped up my purse and headed outside. Just outside my classroom door, my husband stood waiting for me. A newly minted husband of four weeks, to be exact. He held out his arms and I walked into them. 

My mom was dead.

I had texted him less than an hour before where he sat at a desk in her bedroom, working and listening for her rattling breaths. 

How is she?

He answered quickly. Fine. Sleeping.

But when he got up to make sure, he leaned over her and realized she wasn't drawing breath anymore. So he got my sister, and they checked again. We knew she was going to die. He was there with her so she wouldn't be alone. I couldn't take any more time off of work because I'd taken a week for my dad's funeral two months before and I'd have to take another week for my mom's since each of them was being laid to rest in Louisiana, two thousand miles away.

But Kenny was there. Kenny was there in her last moment, just like he'd been there in the very first moment that everything started to go terribly, horribly wrong.

I remember that night, too. I ended my cell phone call as we pulled into his parents' place and said, "Her doctor ordered a CAT scan. He's only doing that because he thinks the cancer is back and he wants to know how far it got."

The answer was that in three months' time, she'd gone from a completely clean post-cancer check up to Stage  4. It was in her liver and it was traveling.

It broke my dad's heart. He'd had issues of his own after a post-surgical complication that scarred his lungs. He couldn't take care of her this time like he had the first time. They lay on their bed together, frail and tired, and young. So young. He was 60. She was 59. The worse she got, the less he ate. 

And then a flu came. And he died. He weighed 104 pounds. My dad was almost six feet tall.

She fought a little longer. She held on until my wedding, plus a little more. I was married on their anniversary.

Then a few weeks later, she was done. She fell asleep. Then she didn't wake up.

I get busy. I think I don't miss them. I think I'm doing all right. But I can't really look at their picture. It hurts to breathe for a moment when I stumble across their handwriting in my papers somewhere.

My babies don't know them. My dad would have been whupped over Eden.

And I say to myself that it's fine because of someday.

And mostly it is. 

But today, I'll remember. It's been four years.

And I miss her. I miss them. I'm kind of even not really mad at my dad anymore. His heart broke. Sometimes it happens.


29 comments:

Kenny, the Husband said...

I love you, sweetheart.

Kim Coates said...

So sorry that you lost both parents so close together. And so young too. You've got me in tears, and I never met either of them.

Kristina P. said...

Life isn't fair and this is a perfect example. I'm so sorry.

Kimberly said...

Crying the big ugly cry right now, Melanie. How can that not hurt? How can it not hurt to breathe sometimes just thinking about them?

And you've written posts about them before that have hit home the beauty you took from their lives. Not trite little lessons and morals, but you live a better life because of what they taught you. You honour them that way, but it's sad and heart wrenching some days I think it must be a very healthy thing to let the sorrow wash over you and just embrace the fact that it really, really sucks.

Sarah said...

It's never easy to lose a parent, but how difficult to lose them both so close together. I'm so glad you had your husband then to help you get through that time. And what a beautiful way you have of remembering them.

Becca said...

Isn't the best part of loving someone the knowing that the happy and the sad, the joyous and the dreadful will always be together, there, shading and lighting each other to make a whole, beautiful thing? And we love, and we sit, and we fear, and we miss, and we laugh, and we wish. And we share.
XOXO

cb photos said...

I'm crying and I don't even feel silly about it. My parents are in their fifties right now, I can't even imagine. I'm grateful you shared what you're feeling, and I hope it helped you for at least a moment!

Melinda said...

Sorry, that last comment was from me! Duh.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Oh Melanie ... sigh. I'm sorry. It's a beautiful tribute and a well-written memory. I'm sure your dad IS smitten by Eden. I'm sorry that missing hurts so much sometimes.

LisAway said...

I just feel like crying and crying and crying. This is definitely one of the very most beautiful things I have read in a long, long time. BEAUTIFUL. And sad. And I'm going to try to stop crying soon because I really should be asleep already.

Erin said...

Ditto to everyone else's comments. And I will add that I love everything you write. I'm so sorry you lost your parents so young.

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Am crying right now.. I remember all of those things that happened. I miss your parents and am blessed to have known them. I am having a rough time going through the same process with my own mother. Love you.

Karen Peterson said...

Everyone else already said it right. I just wanted to add that I'm sorry, too.

love.boxes said...

Beautifully written. Your tenderness in remembering your parents has reminded me how precious every moment with our children is.

Charlotte said...

Wow. What a roller coaster that time must have been for you! You made me tear up. I know my parents won't live forever, but I find I can't even think about them not being there.

Annette Lyon said...

Posts about your parents always make me cry. Life is so unfair.

NIKOL said...

It's been two and a half years since we lost my dad to cancer. Sometimes I feel like I've come to grips with it all, that there won't be any more tears. Then out of nowhere it will bubble to the surface, all fresh and tragic.

You never get over losing a parent, much less both of them so close together. My heart goes out to you.

Linda said...

I miss them too.
Love you

L.T. Elliot said...

Everyone else has said it all but all the same, thank you for sharing this. Kenny is a wonderful man. You are an incredible woman. God bless. *hugs*

Susan said...

Here's my arms wrapping around you all the way from VA. I love that your dad loved your mom that much. I'm sorry they had to go so young and so close together. You're so tough, but I'm glad you have Kenny. And you got him in the nick of time. I think Heavenly Father was watching out for you.

I love the way Kim spells honour.

Carolyn V. said...

((hugs)) I'm so sorry Melanie. It sounds like they loved each other very much. What a beautiful tribute to them.

InkMom said...

Your face is just the perfect mish-mash of your parents'. Craig and I spent this last weekend celebrating the life of his grandmother, who passed away Wednesday. She lived the last 18 years of her life without her husband. I'm not really sure which is better: to leave prematurely, together, or to go so long without one another. I told Craig he can't leave me alone that long.

One of Craig's uncles spoke at the funeral about how he didn't think he would cry over his mother's death -- she had Alzheimer's, and we really lost her a decade ago, but he said that all he can think about now is how he has no one to go to when he just wants to be comforted.

So I am sorry -- that you will always feel this loss so keenly, and that your children will only kind of understand why.

Love you, my friend. I'm no Kenny, but still . . .

Lara said...

My dad just turned 60 on Saturday. And my mom is 58. I couldn't imagine losing them now.

I'm so sorry, I always love reading your posts about them. They must have been wonderful people.

annie valentine said...

I love you Melanie. We all love you. I'm grateful for every moment with my parents, my oldest sister is nearly 60, she's so lucky. I want to be sixty and still able to call my daddy.

In the end, we're all going to be orphans anyway.

Michele Holmes said...

Beautiful post. I am moved to tears. Thank you for sharing.

That Girl said...

This is one of those times I hate this little white box. Because everything I want to say can only be said with a hug and shared tears.

DeNae said...

Oh, Melanie. What is there to say? Every time I hear your story, I marvel at how you've managed to go on after so much loss. And I also think that Kenny was sent to you just at the right time. You married a 'tender mercy', didn't you?

Christiane R. Woerner said...

Melanie, thanks so much for sharing. I'm so sorry. Your pain (and writing skills) made me remember a situation similar to yours (death of my brother). Thank you for helping me to remember him since he's a part of our family. I miss him so much.

Amber Lynae said...

Life is definitely not fair. To lose one parent would break my heart, but both would leave me feeling lost.

Sending you hugs.