One year ago August my mother made a left turn, failing to notice the red light or the utility truck coming through the intersection.   I can still hear my brother's voice as he tried to gently described the circumstances an situation.   She was still alive, in intensive care and everyone was waiting to find out what was to be done next.  It was easier to count the bones that were not broken than the ones that were.  

I didn't know what to do.  I finally resolved myself to make the six hour drive to the hospital where she was just to feel reassured that she was o.k.   This visit was the first time her children had been together in the same place for over ten years.  It took a horrific accident to draw us each out of our own life's dramas and back to one another.  Mom raised us individually to experience our own lives and follow our life's journeys and dreams with no regrets or guilt over leaving home!  We each kept our life grounded through our continued relationship with her and she was always there to encourage us and provide honest advice absent of judgment or condemnation.   She taught us how to be supportive wives and husbands who respected our families above all else.

When I arrived the first day, I did not recognize the old and worn person laying in that bed with the tubes coming out.  The visit from the doctor felt like a runaway train was running through my head.  So many decisions were to be made..which injuries to concentrate on first, which ones could wait.  Fortunately, my oldest brother had the strength and wherewithal to make the decisions necessary continually consulting my other older brother and working as a team member in making decisions that had to be made.

The situation with my Mother evolved to a setting where we were with her 24/7 in order to get her into a private room in a desperate attempt to resolve the confusion created by the ICU environment where the lights were never turned off and the pace was always fast.   Her confusion did resolve at times and her body began to slowly heal.  

As the days turned into weeks and the weeks began to turn into months, we began to realize that we were losing our Mother...one hour at a time.   Her brain just could not heal like the rest of her body and filled her days with fear and confusion.   I am not sure I was ever able to accept that I was losing the one person who had always been my confidant, my comforter and the one person who had enough life experience to always be my consultant.

The natural "order" of our lives includes the children outliving the parents and so on.  But Mother was a vert heathy and fit 76 year old!  I was not prepared for this change in my life.  My brothers tried as hard as they could to be strong and supportive.   Their wives did as well.   The daughters though...our relationship was more fragle and our sense of loss seemed to be more profound thought I seriously doubt that was or is the case.  Men simply have to look strong regardless.  I can still see the look on my brother's face when I tried to get him to promise me Mom would be o  k and he wanted to try.  He wanted so desperately to be right.   They fought doctors, nurses and every other doubting entity to try to help my mother recover ...to convince her and all those who loved her she WOULD be o.k.  

Throughout her last ten weeks, we fought many fronts from negligent nurses, doctors who simply didn't see past a patient number  and her own fears.  We wanted her healed.  We wanted to force her TO HEAL!  But we lost!   Death had its victory and the McLeroy siblings lost forever the force that dedicated her life to teaching and counseling them how to get through theirs.   

After death of a matriarch, things take on a new tone.  We began to disburse her life's work pursuant to the guidance of her "will" to divide everything "equally".   We began dismounting HER life and passing out the pieces among us and to various charitable organizations.   How do children win this game?  It is absolutely impossible to dismantle a person's life...a person who you have loved your entire life...without some moment of breakdown or some challenge for some token memory.  Amazingly, my brother managed to keep us focused and moving towards COMPLETE disbursement not only of HER life efforts but that of several generations before her that she had held on to after the death of our grandparents.  

It is mind boggling when you discover secrets that were never intended for your eyes or begin to realize that not a one of us is perfect!  The history of our family began to play out through pictures, letters, trinkets and stories we discovered.  We set a fast pace for this discovery process knowing that if we slowed down or stopped, we could never finish.   Thinking about what was happening and dealing with those thoughts would have simply removed all coping mechanisms left.    So we marched forward trying not to look back, trying not to think and trying not to let grief interfere with the task at hand.

A year ago last month my mother was killed in a car accident.  She lived another ten weeks, sometimes coherent and able to converse with us in the here and now, other times screaming for help in fear of something we could not see.   Her agony was something we begged her to continue to endure....selfishly trying to force her to fight a losing battle.  Try she did...but that last night...when I talked to her on the phone she said two words, "I'm done!"   Two hours later all life slipped from her.   

I miss her more than words can describe.  I miss the daily e-mails, the phone calls, the cards and the advice she always had hoping to help me prevent some disaster she had already experienced.  Today, I am "back in town" to get the LAST LOAD.  Her house has been sold so the remaining furniture needed to be taken.  The last of the stuff that I wanted and my siblings all said they did not want.   I will leave behind the home but not the memories as I go home with this last load.   I will go home with the reality that it is now completely up to me to get through this life and with the new revelation of how insignificant all this "stuff" really is in the long run.   She worked so hard to save it and preserve it  for HER children.   In the end, we got it, but she ended up with a trip to Heaven.   I know her life is better now.   Asking her to endure a tragedy on the level to which hers was is just too much.   We did ask but we did not understand the volume of her injuries.   

There are blessings in every tragedy.  MY blessing is a renewed relationship with ALL my siblings.  When the going got tough, the tough got together.   We will all survive this loss, each through our own grieving process.  Eventually I will make it through the pile in the corner of the bedroom that has been built as I have brought stuff home.   But for now... this moment...in this day...I miss my Mom.   She was an amazing Mom.  She was a loving Mom.   She was a person who I strive each day to represent.   I miss her but she's in my heart.  I hear the laughter and the voice that once was her.  It's now inside of ME and a part of who I am.  That alone consoles me.   That alone blesses my life!

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