Today Mami would have turned 65. My Mother was young when we lost her to C – still don’t like saying that word. She was only 46, such a young age. It is never easy loosing your mother no matter how old you are. I lost her two week before my 24th birthday.
Not having my mother around at that age had been difficult. It is when you start asking questions about your parents – how they met, how did daddy propose, how was I as a baby. Some of those questions came up when I was younger but you really didn’t pay attention to the conversation. You always think – oh I’ll have time to ask Mami later. For my sisters and I later never came.
My older sister and I are 10 months apart. She was lucky enough to have both my parents walk her down the isle when she got married. I was lucky to have daddy. They moved up the wedding day to do so. Mami was a very religious person. Being Puerto Rican the church and her faith was very important to her. She would go to Mass several times a week sometimes and took part in church activities. There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her church and God.
After I graduated college it got tough between my mother and I. My views weren’t her views and she couldn’t understand that. She was a very strict Puerto Rican mother. I think she was also having a hard time knowing that we were getting older and didn’t need Mami as much although she still had my younger sister. You didn’t want to mess with Mami and Mami wasn’t afraid of anyone – LOL! Boy the stories I could tell. Anyway, as I was saying, things were difficult and we were estranged for some time. As much as I hate to admit it, we were alike in many ways – stubborn, strong willed and feisty. Knowing someone you love suffering from a terminal illness changes you in so many ways. It is unfortunate and yet fortunate that it took something like this disease to bring us closer. I spent as much time as I could with Mami but I was back at school.
One Sunday as I was heading back to school Mami took a turn for the worse and we rushed her to the hospital. It didn’t look good. I took some time off from school and stood vigil with daddy by her bedside. We had rosary prayers with people from church and family. I refused to leave my mother. During that time I kept thinking of the quote from Footprints In The Sand, “the time when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you.” I felt it then and have many times since then. It was time. Slowly she would slip in and out of consciousness. She spoke of those who had already passed and she even mentioned her father. Something she had never done while we were growing up. During one of her awake moments she even told us that God was sitting at the edge of her bed. Mami was so religious she welcomed death. She would not fight if God was calling her. My sisters and I fought like hell – nothing worked. It was her time and she was embracing it.
It was never easy talking to my mother. She put the fear of God in us and I always had to work up the nerve to talk to her – even simple things. I never want to be like that with my daughter.
I knew I didn’t have long before she slipped into a coma so if I wanted to talk to her I would need to do it fast. I finally got the courage to apologize to her. I apologized for our fight even though I knew I had done nothing wrong, I apologized for not seeing things through her eyes, I apologized if I disappointed her. Mami was very proud of her 3 daughters-we are first generation, graduated high school, went to college, didn’t do drugs, didn’t get arrested, didn’t get knocked up in high school (seemed the norm then), we weren’t perfect but it didn’t seem enough. I apologized for everything. Although she never apologized for anything I didn’t expect her to. Mami was never wrong but that’s ok.
I had such an amazing feeling come over me after that. I felt it was ok for her to go. I said what I needed to say and I felt good. I urged my younger sister to do the same. Time was running out. She finally did and Mami stayed with us for a few more days.
I miss her every single day especially now that I have my own daughter. Now that I am a mother I get it, I finally understand, I just wish she were here for me to tell her. Its been 19 years and I miss her more each day.
My dearest Mother, Happy Birthday, I love you and miss you very much. I wish you an amazing birthday and hope that you are enjoying your day. Kisses and hugs to daddy, Amber and the family. (Spanish version below).
Your daughter, Irene
Mi querida Madre, Feliz Cumpleaños, te amo mucho y te extraño tanto. Te deseo un cumpleaños increíble y espero que esté disfrutando de su día. Besos y abrazos a Papi, Amber y la familia.
Con mucho amór y cariño, Tu hija Irene