Friday, November 30, 2012

Mama's Passing

My favorite picture of Mama.
The last 36 hours have been, in a word—surreal.

It all happened so fast.

It’s important to note that my mom had been on dialysis since 2006, and she had a lot of other health problems, too. For all the health problems she had, she managed to stay positive and upbeat most of the time.

On Thanksgiving, she seemed “off.” I mentioned it to my boyfriend, and I tried to get her to talk about it, but she wouldn’t. She said there was nothing wrong—she just wasn’t feeling well.

But Thanksgiving was a great day. We all enjoyed it immensely, each of us regaling each other with stories from our childhoods and antics we pulled. Lots of laughter and a laid-back day with good food and family connection. You really couldn’t have asked for a better holiday.

On Monday, my mom called me to tell me she had heard the “sad news” that I gave away all of my Cabbage Patch Kids. She raised quite the stink about it and made every attempt to make me feel guilty. (I actually haven’t gotten them to their new owners yet, but they’re in bags in my apartment, waiting.) I was shocked at her strange behavior though. It threw me for a loop that she was making such a stink about something that really doesn’t matter—toys she bought me over 25 years ago.

For what it’s worth, I kept and will always plan the keep the first one she gave me. I remember that well—it was one of the first Cabbage Patch Kids made, and she went to many stores to try and find one. She finally did find one, and she stood there by her car, waiting for me to come out of church camp one summer. I walked out of the building, and there she was with Christina, the Cabbage Patch Kid.

We hung up, and I was totally puzzled.

I didn’t realize that would be the last time I would hear her voice. That was the last conversation we had.

The instant I realized that, I felt deeply thankful for our family tradition of always saying I love you at the end of every phone conversation.

My mom went into the hospital on Wednesday, when they couldn’t give her dialysis. She ended up in the ER and immediately checked in and taken to ICU. Her veins were tiny, and they struggled to get the dialysis to take, but they tried multiple channels and eventually got her stabilized.

The details are fuzzy right now, because I didn’t even know she was in the hospital until yesterday.

But basically Wednesday night, she was stable. Thursday morning around 7:15am, all hell broke loose. I knew nothing about this, and my dad didn’t either—he slept through several of the doctor’s phone calls. He woke up around 9am, and as soon as he heard the messages he got dressed and went straight to the hospital.

They ran a CAT scan and discovered she had a colon infection that had gone septic.

She also had a heart arrhythmia, which can cause a lot of problems when other things are piled on top of that issue.

Then the infection got into her blood. They couldn’t give her fresh blood quickly enough, so her blood became toxic, and her heart gave out.

She coded one time just before Daddy called me.

I got the call right at noon. Daddy sounded weary and weak. I had no idea of anything that was happening, of course. I had never heard that tone of voice in my dad before, and I knew right away that it was serious.

I called my sister as I packed up my stuff at work. I let them know what was going on, stopped by Jimmy John’s to grab sandwiches for myself and my dad—knowing he probably hadn’t eaten at all that day—and headed straight to the hospital.

I was too late.

By the time I had gotten there, she had coded three more times, and they couldn’t bring her back the last time.

Telling this story is surreal. I wasn’t aware it was happening.

When I got to the hospital, Daddy told me.

I got to sit with her for a few minutes in the hospital room, which was oddly quiet, even though her room was right in front of the nurse’s station. I talked to her and wished she would come back. I asked her why she had to go, and all I heard back was, “I was just so tired.”

The next hours are a complete blur, but at some point once I realized the family and most of my close friends knew, I posted it to Facebook.

I have been overwhelmed by the love and support, the prayers, the kind words, and all of the offers of help.

The house was full last night, and that was the best that any of us could ask for. My most precious friend Veronica brought dinner for the whole family, and we were so grateful—none of us had even thought about dinner… or eating.

I struggled to fall asleep last night, as reality faded from surreal to more real.

This morning, we made the funeral arrangements. All of those decisions made me dizzy and completely, utterly, and deeply drained.

In some ways, none of those decisions matter, because she’s gone, and it feels like we’re mostly making the decisions for our own sanity. But really, those decisions are important—after all, we are responsible for preserving her memory and we are responsible for everyone’s last impression of her, before we lay her to rest.

I have so many words, and yet—none at all. I’m quickly passing through moments of numbness, normality, anger, deep sadness, and a level of grief I have never felt in my whole life.

No relationship is more complex, intimate, or impossible to describe than that of a mother and daughter.

The picture that will print with her obituary.
To know I will never again get to hug her, smell her, hear her voice… to know she’ll never meet David’s kids or truly know David… the things I’ll never be able to ask her, the questions I’ll never have answered, the words I’ll never get to say—it’s all too much to think about, but those thoughts show up in random moments, and just like I did in the divorce… I am riding the wave.

Thank you for your continued support and words of encouragement, your prayers, your offers of help. I am not sure if I’m going to blog here about the grief wave, or stories, or frustrations, or whatever—or if I’m going to keep quiet, like I have for the last several months (sorry)… or if it will be something in-between.

I’m going to do whatever needs to happen. Whatever will keep me connected, at least on some level, to sanity—that is what I’m going to do.

Mama’s obituary will run tomorrow (Sat. Dec. 1) and Sunday (Dec. 2) in the Dallas Morning News, with her picture:
Jill Johnson Tritton 
Born December 14, 1944 in Dallas, TX and passed away November 29, 2012 in Plano, TX. She is survived by her loving husband of over 46 years, David Tritton; daughter and son-in-law, Jill Wendilyn and Kevin Troquille; daughter and partner, Linda Lee Tritton and David Hoffman; grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She is also survived by her brother, Reilly Johnson, as well as other relatives and descendants. Visitation will be Sunday, December 2, 2012 from 3pm to 5pm at Restland Funeral Home. A Graveside service will be held on Monday, December 3, 2012 at 10am Restland Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The National Kidney Foundation.