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.
Monday, January 24, 2011
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.