I am a twenty-seven year old mother of two, ages 3 and 5. The above photo was taken at my sister's wedding, just two weeks before Mom died from a brain aneurysm on June 21, 1997. My family and I are still struggling to cope with the loss. Mom was a healthy and active 45 year-old doting grandmother. She loved flower gardening and everyone loved her. It's been a terribly heart-wrenching experience, dealing with this. My heart aches every day, selfishly, for my loss. I know somewhere there is a reason this has happened to our family, but as for today, I still struggle to understand what that reason could be. Until that understanding comes, I do what all of us must - get up every day and just keep putting one foot in front of the other (sigh).
My mother was the most beautiful person I have ever known. Never a harsh word for anyone and the first to help someone in need. She was truly my best friend and if I had somewhere to go or something to do, I called her.
On June 19, 1997, I got a call at work during my lunch that Mom had been taken to the hospital and they thought she had an aneurysm. My two sisters and I rushed to the hospital. She had been at the bank and complained of a severe headache. A lady there whom Mom knew drove her to the local hospital.
The ER doctors said up front that they suspected an aneurysm. Mom was completely awake and coherent. She said that the pain was the worst she'd ever experienced and it wasn't a "headache" but that was the only way to describe it. Mom had had migraines in the past, but she said this was nothing like it. We also told the ER doctor that aneurysms "run" in our family, three other women on my Mom's side of the family had died from aneurysms. A CT scan and a lumbar puncture showed nothing. ER sent her home that evening and said she had nothing more than a migraine. Yet they still suggested she call her doctor the next day and have him schedule an MRI. So we all went home thinking everything was okay.
The next morning, I called my mom and asked how she was feeling. She said she still had a little headache, but not too bad. She was going to call the doctor and try to get the MRI scheduled. It was June 20, me and my husband's 5th anniversary and Mom was concerned because she didn't know if she could watch our two children (ages, at the time, 1 and 3) for the weekend as we had planned. That was the least of my concerns.
Well, Mom said she would call me back when she got hold of the doctor and got the MRI scheduled. My phone rang ten minutes later, but was still forwarded from where I had left work quickly the day before. So I called Mom, thinking it was her calling me. (In reality, it was my sister calling to tell me what I was about to find out). Mom answered the phone, barely able to talk. I started to panic and cry and asked what was wrong. She said, "It started again". My other sister, who lived right down the road, was on her way to pick up Mom and rush her back into ER. I met my youngest sister at the hospital and we asked that Mom be life-flighted to a larger hospital in Columbus, Ohio, as soon as she was brought in. The hospital said "they would see". When my sister and Mom got there, Mom was very dazed and confused acting. In the ER observation room, hospital personnel still weren't convinced anything was really wrong. The doctor came in and said they were going to release her as they thought she still just had a migraine. In the process of telling her this, as we were standing there, she started slurring her words and became unable to move the left side of her body. She was having a stroke in front of him as he was discussing discharging her again!
They rushed her for another CT scan. This one showed the aneurysm. They finally agreed to life-flight her out. The whole time, Mom was going downhill. The last coherent, mumbled words I remember hearing her say, was in coming back from the CT scan, she kept mumbling, "I'm okay. I'm going to be okay." How I wish that were true.
I cry as I write this and I cry as I read others similar stories. Mom never made any improvement and was declared brain dead the next day. The neurosurgeons did not feel that operating would have helped as the injury to Mom's brain was already substantial. We had to make the decision to turn off the machines and decided to proceed with organ donation.
I guess the hardest part I have had to deal with is not remembering that Mom is gone, but forgetting. I still, even a year and two months later, pick up the phone to call her and tell some new or little thing the girls have done. And I really wish someone could tell me how you explain to a 3 year old that her ma-maw had to go to heaven? I'm angry that my children have been cheated of the wonderful influence of their grandma. I'm angry that I've been cheated of my Mom's presence. I'm scared. I'm only 27 now, what if I don't live past 45 either? What if I leave my children, too? There is a hole in my life that I don't know how to fix or get past. It is affecting everything else in my life and if this is depression, I'm not sure how to go past it. Sometimes, for all the joy that should be in my life, with my two children that I love and my husband, I don't know how to get through this horrible experience.
I'm sorry this is so long, but nothing I could say would ever give tribute to my Mother or do her life and the influence she made on me justice, the way she deserved.
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