Tribute to Mom-Christmas Eve 1991- A New Tradition
I wanted to take a moment to remember my mother today because tomorrow is the anniversary of her passing and Christmas is her birthday. She would’ve been 92 this year.
I had just turned 30 the year she passed. We missed out on so much because of cancer. #fuckcancer First breast cancer, mastectomy, and then ultimately, bone cancer took her life.
It was Christmas Eve 1991, Pasadena California, getting ready for work. I was working in TV Production back then at Disney, and we typically worked on Christmas Eve. This day I was able to get up a little early, or get ready a little quicker, either way, I found myself having a little time before I needed to leave.
I began to think about my childhood and the significance of Christmas Eve. From the time I was a small child, Christmas Eve was the night that our family opened our presents from each other. We saved Christmas for the stockings and gift from Santa. A tradition in our family was whoever was the first one up, if you yelled “Christmas Eve Gift” first, you got to open one gift. The memory of it made me smile and warmed my heart.
My thoughts then went to my mother. At the time, she was lying in a hospital bed in the den of our family home, in the center of their house, with my dad and sister there at her side.
My brother and I had just come back from our visit, where we were told if you want to see your mom, you need to come now. So, we did. We both took off of work, we were there for 10 days and spent them with our mom. Since my brother’s birthday was December 15th and moms was December 25th, we decided to have a birthday celebration for them both. And we set up Christmas and had Christmas too. By this time, she was on morphine to control her pain and so she really didn’t have concept of time. We did our best to just make it the usual family gathering. Cooking, presents, laughing, and lots of naps. It was a bittersweet memory really, because mom wasn't quite herself, but she was there, alive.
I decided to just sit in total silence as my mind went through the memories. I lit a candle near her picture, and sat on the end of my bed. I called out into the ether to my mother, I told her how much I loved her and wished that she didn’t have to suffer. How much I wish we could spend more time together. I said, I need you to teach me so many more things. I’m not really sure what possessed me, other than my complete empathy of her daily pain and suffering, but I told her, “Oh mommy, I will miss you so much, but it is so hard to see you suffer. I’ll be okay, we’ll be okay, it’s okay to let go. If you’re ready to go, we’ll be okay. I cried as I called out to her, mommy, I love you always and forever.”
I realized I was sitting there a little longer than I thought so I wiped my tears and I grabbed my bag and headed off to work.
I still ended up arriving early to the studio, as many people were already off for the holiday and so the freeway was smooth sailing. I stopped by my friend Caterina’s office on the way to my own. We had a quick chat and then off to get my work day started. I was going through my in-box when my phone rang. It was my dad. My mom, bless her soul, had taken her last breath. When we hung up, I was in complete shock. It's that moment when you realize that you knew that her time was short, they warned us it was short, but I was still stunned by her passing. I truly couldn’t imagine my life without her, mommy, mom, ma, in it. My mind immediately went to that plea not even an hour earlier, "did you hear me? Is that it?" It was this strange moment of grief and guilt because I had said she could let go--but I wasn't ready. The emotion, the confusion, the sadness, I just didn't know what to do. And then, as I was driving, I felt this calm wash over me, I kept hearing, it’s all going to be okay babe, I’ll always be with you. I couldn’t tell if it was my mind coming to terms with the news or if it was her telling me, everything would be okay. Either way, my mom was gone from this earthly plane and she wasn't going to be coming back. I was in complete devastation. Sometimes, I still think I'm dealing with her passing on the deepest level, because I miss her so much.
Well, that was 29 years ago. Not a day, not one day goes by, that I don’t think about her. I still talk to her and pray for her. In many ways, I honestly cannot comprehend that it has been 29 years since her death. But, in many other ways, the weight of it still feels as indescribable as the day dad called to tell me of her passing.
To lose your mom before you find your true love, before you have children, the talks we never got to have, the wisdom she never go to share, the moments we missed growing older together. So, 29 years later, the tears flow as I write this because I called my mom nearly every day when she was alive. At the end, it hurt her to talk, so I’d talk to my dad to get the updates and to have him hold the phone at her ear so I could tell her how much I loved her and appreciated her. The loss, the pain, the hurt, it’s just there, just under the surface. If you loved your mom, if she was your friend as much as she was a mom, there really is no replacing that and so the loss is that much more. The woman who gave birth to me, the one who suffered through that, the one who kissed my boo-boos, scolded me when I needed to learn a lesson, taught me how to tie my shoes, held me when my young heart was broken at my first love moving away; That woman will always be in my heart, deep in my soul, she and I share DNA, DNA that I passed to my son, She will always be there, loving me, cheering me on, hugging me, always there in my memories, always there in my heart.
Tomorrow we celebrate Christmas Eve the old fashioned way. Not in remembrance of the day you left this earth, but remembering all of the wonderful family Christmas and birthday celebrations that we had together. And even though I'm on my own this year, as I rise from my sleep, I will sing out "Christmas Eve Gift" just like when I was a child and remember you and dad and Bobby, I miss you all so much. On Christmas Day, the day that you were born, I will celebrate your life, sing happy birthday to you, and remember the good times. I will call my son and visit and spend time the only way we can right now.
Lois, you were the best mom. You brought humor, empathy, compassion, kindness, and most of all unconditional love to me. You taught me so much and I will never be able to thank you the way that I want. So in lieu of that, I will attempt to do for my son, what you did for me. To make sure he knows just how very much he is loved and appreciated, until my last breath, just like you did for me.
Thank you Mom, thank you for everything! I wouldn’t be here without you, literally. 😊
I love and miss you, Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Momma