Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Tribute

Almost four months ago, on April 8, 2008 at 8:30pm, I lost one of the most precious people in my life, my beloved mother. My mother left me suddenly and abruptly. I was in no way shape or form ready to say good bye.

I had just spoken to her on Sunday calling her on the way home from teaching. I was at a redlight and something inside of me told me to call her, be a good daughter, and so I did. A week before that my mother and I had been on the phone for about an hour...maybe an hour and half, talking about everything and nothing. I was finishing up a yarn belt I was working on for an upcoming bellyjam* I was going to perform in, my very first with the student troupe from my studio. I was so excited and I was telling mommy all about it. She of course was advising me on how best to make the belt and to not make it too heavy. When had been talking for awhile and I was eager to get my belt done so I told her I better get moving along. I told her how much I enjoyed talking to her and thanks for calling. She told me, " You can call me too y'know." I apologized and gave her all my very real at the time excuses as to why I hadn't called. I was busy with home, school, work etc. but I promised to call her. It was Sunday at that redlight that I was reminded of my promise. When she answered the phone I knew somethign was not right. She told me she was not feeling well. She had been busy cleaing the house, as usual and kept having dizzy spells. She hadn't been eating and just felt out of it. This had been going on since Friday and I told her that if she did not feel well by Monday she should go see a doctor. She informed me my siblings had already beat me to that piece of advice and yes, she was going to the doctor. I arrived at Whole Foods and again told her I better get going. She told me she loved me, as she always did and I told her I loved her too and to please take care of herself.

Monday afternoon my sister called me to tell me mommy was being admitted into the hospital for pneumonia and that she was septic. Her blood pressure was 60/40 but I refused to believe anything ill, she was going to be okay, I just knew it.

Deep inside I felt myself slipping for some reason. That night I went out with my daughters and drank several martinis. My sisters kept calling me worried and upset and I kept assuring them that mommy was going to be fine, I just knew it. I suddenly needed to smoke a cigarette (I am not a habitual smoker) so I decided to sneak out to call my SIL, my best friend, to smoke and talk her ear off in my very buzzed stupor. Mommy was going to be alright I kept telling her.

The next morning at 6:30 AM, my brother called me to give me an update. Things did not look well.
Again I repeated my then mantra, Mommy was going to be alright. I promised him I would be there by 1:00 that afternoon.
He called again, getting more worried. I told him more emphatically she was going to be fine, god was not taking another mother ** from me, and if he did we were going to fight.***

About an hour later my sister called me to tell me I better get there now because mommy was not going to make it until 1:00. I became frantic and I yelled telling her I would be there as fast as I f*&^ing could.

I drove the hour ride to the hospital and arrived at 9:30 AM. Mommy was already on life support, something she was adamantly against, but the kids just did not know what to do. She looked so frial, so small. She did not look like my mother. I wanted her to get up to talk to me. I wanted her to tell me it was a stupid joke she was playing, but she didn't. I made inane conversation with her about her lovely nails. I touched her and kissed her over and over again. She never responded.

My step father was in Africa on business and could not be reached, so the day went by with me my two sisters, my brother, my step brothers, and my aunt by my mother's side. In and out of the room we went, waiting. My daughters kept calling me and my poor son kept calling them. He was in Israel in school and was searching for good news. At one point we thought we had it and mommy seemed to improve. That was the last my son had heard. But just as quickly as we thought we had hope, it was wrenched unmercifully from us and she declined fast.

We knew it was over. After a heart wrenching and tear filled family meeting all of us children along with our aunt, (mommy's sister), entered the room to say goodbye. At 8:30 PM mommy took her last breath.

Part of me took it's last breath with her. My faith was shaken to the core and is no more.

It saddens me, that of all the people I know, I received only three condolence cards. My religous community seemed to disappear. There were a literally a handfull that called and sat with me and for them I will be forever grateful. My dance community though has truly been the greatest outlet for me. They are still the ones who hold out their hands to me and listen to me. They have truly rallied around me to hold me up. More often than not I arrive at class so depressed. They are always there to smile at me. Sometimes I just need to be heard, to babble about anything, and they are there patiently listening to me. Sometimes I feel like I cannot go on and they are there with open arms ready to embrace me.

This is entitled tribute and that is what it is. A tribute to my beloved mother who I miss everyday and everday wonder how am I supposed to live my life without her. It is also a tribute to my sisters and my family. My sisters who share my blood and tears and are so very precious to me. To my family, who have suffered the gaping hole that was left by my mother. But also to my sisters and family in the dance, who are also precious to me. My dance sisters and family who lead and follow me through my pain. My sisters who have tried to help fill the hole, knowing it will never go away but nonetheless try very hard to make it just a bit smaller by giving me the cues of their love and thier absolute acceptance. I truly love them one and all and I am grateful.


* I never got to that bellyjam, (hafla, dance party) it was held the weekend after mommy left. I was told afterwards though that my dance sisters sent their thoughts and prayers out to me and several of them danced in my mother and my family's honor.

** My birth mother died when I was 5 months old in a car accident.
My mother became my mother when I was two years old. I never knew this until I was ten years old and could do the math. (Mommy was only 12.5 years older than me and I asked her if she had me when she was 12.) Not too many years ago my mother and I were talking and I told her my first memory of her. I was taking a bath and she came to the doorway. I remember exactly what she was wearing. I also remember thinking how beautiful she was, how she looked just like Elizabeth Montgomery to me. I looked at her and called her "Mommy". When I told mommy this memory she was shocked. She told me it was the very first time we met.

***The fight continues...but I do not know anymore and I am not certain if anyone is out there to fight with.

Note about the dance: I love the dance. I have danced one form or another for many years. When I started tribal bellydance classes I just wanted to learn this beautiful art form that had captivated me with the beauty of every woman. The tribe spoke to my need and desire for community based on nothing more than joy and empowerment. I wanted to exercise and celebrate my body and femininity. But what I have come away with was more than I ever could have imagined. I have true sisters who have and continue to walk with me during one of the stormiest times of my life, and believe me I can honestly tell you I have been through hell and back several times now. I am and will be forever grateful to them for it is a debt I can never repay.