Just Keep Swimming


A while ago one of my friends asked me, “how do you do it? How do you deal with your mom’s death? I can hardly do it.”

To answer her question of how do I do it I tried to convey to her how I have been feeling. I have been in and out of a state of disbelief and acceptance ever since my mom’s heart stopped suddenly in May. She died the next day, my first Mother’s Day, when we followed her wishes and turned off her life support. I knew the moment I saw her lying there that she was gone and I was suddenly facing the fear I’d been so scared of for so long. I had been so furious about her possibly leaving me. I knew that the odds were against us and in those final moments at the hospital I felt the likelihood that she would not be with us anymore. I had been so afraid of her death but I was not prepared for it.

I cried a lot at first, I went through denial. I stared at the ceiling and let memories and questions flood through my brain. I laughed with friends and cried, too. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I pretended to be ok for my dad and my daughter and stepson and for everyone. I kept going because I had to. I drove my daughter to her doctor appointment 5 hours away a week after it happened. I still don’t know how.

I am dealing with it and at times is seems very unreal. But I read my mom’s writing and I think about how she wrote me a letter in case she died. She said that I should work at being happy. That she would be happy seeing me laugh. I feel like she sends me joy and jokes and I know that she is with me. Too many weird things have happened for it to be purely coincidence.

Most of all I feel that she has prepared me to keep going through the hard parts my whole life. Just put one foot in front of the other. Take my Prozac and my vitamins. Be honest. Ask for help. Get hugs. Take care of others. Find things inappropriate and hilarious. Stay busy with the things that matter, ignore the things that don’t.

I am struggling but I refuse to give up. I try to remember she was where I was so many years ago with a young daughter and a mom that left too soon. I try to think about how she would act, what she would say. I pet her sweater in the closet. I think about her fly away hair. I lick the fork and stick it back in the pickle jar just to get even with her for leaving. I walk to the stoplight and back. I just keep on swimming, Dear Heart, and you should, too.

3 thoughts on “Just Keep Swimming

  1. You write so beautifully. Keep on keeping on. No matter what, the women in our family have learned to do this. Well, most of us. Julian of Norwich says it best. “All shall be well, and all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.”


  2. My heart aches for you and your Dad! You’re right, just keep going, one step in front of the other. Keep busy, and treasure the moments when “something” happens. Know she’s with our Father. I know that with every fiber in my being! Bless you, dear one, bless you! I pray for you!


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