Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Goes On...

How many years ago did my Mom die? 6... 7? I remember the day in spurts of clarity and rhythms of pain, but I cannot place it in context with any other events or dates. It was St. Patrick's Day, and Tish was making her corned beef and cabbage, which I was really looking forward to. My Mom had gone in for a simple procedure but had insisted I not make the hour drive with JT since I had been there a week before and was planning dinner at my Dad and Tish's. That's right, I was already living with Paul and JT was about 2. Mica was not even a pipe dream yet. I was young, in and out of community college, and just learning about providing a stable home for my baby. We were at the table eating, I was devouring a huge plate of meat and potatoes, my Dad took a phone call and mentioned that my Mom's procedure had not gone well. I was only slightly concerned, NF2 sucks and she had something new wrong every day for the last 5 years it seemed. I had spent years rushing off to hospitals only to sit and wait for hours, and assumed I could at least just finish my food. So I did, I sat and I ate that corned beef and cabbage. I chatted with Tish and took care of JT. Paul and my Dad probably talked about beer or work, I don't remember at all. After that everything is fuzzy. I know my mom slipped out of consciousness and into a coma, which she fought until they tied her down. I know the last person she saw was the owner of her nursing home. I know that her hands were really cold and I know that I got there too late. I don't know when my grandparents arrived, but they did. I have no idea who had JT. I think maybe a day even passed, but the only thing I really remember is the panic that rose in my chest when she actually died. Somehow I think I thought she would pull through like she had for so long. Instead I sat in a hospital hallway crying and everyone else disappeared. I can see all of it like a movie playing in my head, and then I am missing huge gaps of time.

Every year I avoid St. Patrick's Day in alliance with my guilt for letting my mom be alone in her last moments. Every year I count the years, I write, I spend some time on my couch just resting. I don't cry, I ran out of tears a long time ago. I never eat the traditional foods or wear green, I do the bare minimum of my Mommy duties as related to the holiday. I make sure the kids have green shirts and buy something pre-made for their potlucks, that is all I have to give, because I can't avoid the guilt every time I start to enjoy it.

This year something shifted, and I noticed it but chose not to acknowledge it until I was sure. When the potluck sign-ups came around I signed up to make green vegan mint chocolate cupcakes. I spent a lot of time on the recipe, shopping, and finally baking. I baked for almost 4 hours and when I was done there was green St. Patrick's Day glitter mixed with smudges of fudge all over and 4 dozen green cupcakes sitting pretty ready for the potluck. I helped dig out green shirts for the kids this morning, and realized I really should have bought new ones. I felt guilty again, but for dropping the Mommy ball, not for something that happened 6 years ago. I took Mica to class and instead of heading home I stayed and volunteered. While the kids had story-time I googled "vegan St. Patrick's Day" and my eyes immediately hit a corned beef and cabbage recipe. I jotted down the ingredients I would need and decided to make an entire meal out of it tonight with roasted red potatoes and Irish soda bread shaped like a shamrock. I don't think it happened at any one moment, but at some point I let go of the guilt and life filled the space it had been occupying.

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