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When She Loved Me...

I've been thinking lately that I need to start scheduling time to write. Mostly to work on my memoir, but also to throw tidbits into this blog too. Truth be told, writing this blog is giving me more ideas for the memoir and motivating me to be more creative. I read a book a while back about how, in order to succeed, you have to dedicate time to your goals, which is difficult as a mom and caregiver when it's so easy to put yourself last. If I wait until the end of the day to do the things I want to do for ME, then the day is over, the sun has set, everyone is asleep, and I'm too exhausted to be creative, so I eat junk food, watch the MEDIUM, and knit. So we know I'm not a late night achiever (not since college!) And I have NEVER been a rise before dawn to achieve while everyone else is sleeping person. Never gonna happen.

[Prepping for writing includes: Mozart playing on the Echo, putting on my comfiest Pact sweatshirt, muck-lucks on my feet, laying out notebooks already filled with handwritten musings, tall water glass, and hot decaf coffee in my mom's favorite mug. Notice the Thomas Kinkade puzzle in the background, only JUST finished so I can work with no distractions!]


But. Today I was gifted a rare block of time. My boys went to a birthday party at a bowling alley. My dad is off to be an official at the college hockey game - one of his self care pleasures. And me? I'm home alone, for HOURS. WHAT?! Just me, the pets, and my sleeping mother, who probably won't stir for a few hours at least. So between now, and mom's bed bath, meds, and minuscule meal, it's time to dust off those memoir notes from the creative writing class I took, oh...two years ago now. Let's see if there is any semblance of a book in here, shall we?...


On a lazy Sunday afternoon in July 2018, my dad took Harvey out for an adventure. This never happens. Harvey was not yet two. Caregiving always takes priority. So, just the two of them going anywhere rarely happens, and it was a pretty big deal for my dad, especially because they were going to the airport to see a display and air show of World War II airplanes. This is something that my dad was very excited about as a past pilot and someone who would live in the air if he could. Harvey didn’t really know what he was in for, but he was just kept saying “Airplane! Airplane!”

So they were gone, and suddenly I’m at home with mom, and I’m first and foremost a daughter for the afternoon - not the mom. Chris is down in the basement watching tv and relaxing. I’m sitting at my laptop trying to get some work done while mom lays on the couch, feet up with Toy Story 2 playing in the background. The song “When She Loved Me” comes on and I start to feel the emotions well up from inside my stomach, a thick, billowing cloud of feelings, filling my tummy and then into my chest until it’s full and tight. This song has always gotten to me. I know it’s about a toy and her girl, but I have always heard the words like my mom singing it about me, her only little girl. We were best friends, and there were so many days in my childhood that the boys were off galavanting, and it was just me and mom. Just the two of us.

I tried to treasure the little moments with mom those days before she was on hospice. She couldn’t move, she spoke only word salad, and she didn’t know me or whether I was even in the room. But, then and now, if I can build in moments here and there, they matter to me. And somewhere deep inside, I think they matter to her too and her quality of life, which I imagine is quite lonely now that she’s trapped so deep inside her deteriorating brain.

So I get up, and I walk over to the couch and sit down beside her as closely as I can. I take her right hand in my left, and I weave my short, little fingers in between her long, lean fingers. I watch the montage of the toy and her girl on the big, flat screen, and I tear up as I listen to the words and let them sink in and speak to me and what they mean to me and my mom...

When somebody loved me

Everything was beautiful

Every hour spent together

Lives within my heart

And when she was sad

I was there to dry her tears

And when was happy so was I

When she loved me

Through the summer and the fall

We had each other that was all

Just she and I together

Like it was meant to be

And when she was lonely

I was there to comfort her

And I knew that she loved me

So the years went by

I stayed the same

But she began to drift away

I was left alone

Still I waited for the day

When she'd say I will always love you

Lonely and forgotten

Never thought she'd look my way

And she smiled at me and held me

Just like she use to do

Like she loved me

When she loved me

When somebody loved me

Everything was beautiful

Every hour spent together

Lives within my heart

When she loved me

As I hold her hand and squeeze it - with all the years of love filling me so full of memories and nostalgia - I rub her arm with my right hand, trying to let her know that she is not alone and someone loves her enough to let her know. She did always dry my tears, and I was never lonely growing up because I had her. She was my best friend, even as other peers came and went in my circle of friends.

I did drift away. I got busy with school, I went away to college, and I got consumed with my career. I still called her nearly everyday to talk and laugh, but she probably did feel lonely when I was gone. But I do hope that she always knew that every hour spent together shaped me into the woman I am and that I always thought of her as my best friend and my closest confidant.

After the song finishes and I blink away the tears, I say to her, “Hey mom, guess what. I love you.”

She actually responds and asks “Why?”

So I say the first simple truth that pops into my mind, “Because you’re my mom.”

She takes her hand, still tangled in my own fingers, and slowly brings it up to her mouth. I’m not sure what she is doing exactly, because sometimes she points to things that aren’t there or tries to eat food out of her fingers when there is nothing but air between them. But this time, she brings her fingers (and mine too) to her lips and kisses. She mostly kisses her own fingers, but there is a sliver of my own that also touches her lips.

She kisses and says, “Gotcha.”

My heart nearly bursts. These moments are so rare now, and the vicious irony of life is that they mean so much more now than they did 20 years ago when they probably happened daily in abundance.

Smooch. “Gotcha.”

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