please scroll down to see all photos and for a larger print of the text...

Here is the text for the multimedia piece I did in memory of my mom.

“I miss you mommy, please come back!” The little girl inside me screams. I feel abandoned like a little girl forgotten in a grocery store.I am scared and unsure of who I can count on. I feel alone. I miss my mom so much that it hurts. I will always remember the last time my mom hugged me. I was at the edge of her hospital bed and I wanted to hug her but she could barely move her hand. I held her hand and lifted it up and put it around me and then SHE squeezed. I remember thinking that this could be the last time she hugs me. It comes into my mind all the time, uninvited, destructive, the most powerful image of when i last saw her - this is what torments me the most. Her lifeless body, eyes closed, upon a crisp sheet all dressed up but not getting up. Lying inside a new piece of furniture - I was so unprepared for that image. I always wish I did not see it but the previous days may have been worse. About three weeks before, I called her and she was in the hospital. The nurse said she was too sick to come to the phone. When I got to the hospital, I could hear gagging in the room from the hallway. I ran down the hallway to the window, uncontrollably crying wondering what I should do, I was too scared to go in until a nurse came and led me to my mom. By the end of that weekend I had crawled into the hospital bed with her, trying to get as close as possible. About a week later, she went into the hospital for the last time. I remember when she went into surgery I was to wear her wedding ring because she was not allowed to wear jewelry. I still remember the look of worry in her eyes when she saw me break down. Afterwards, when the doctor came out, he sat us down in the waiting room. The three of us sat on the dusty rose leatherette chairs and the doctor started saying things like ‘The cancer has spread everywhere. There is nothing we can do. She doesn’t have much time left.’ I questioned my dad and tried to force him to make sense of it for me but my dad was oblivious to me as he was hunched over sobbing. I was shocked. When she came to after surgery, she started screaming in agony. It was so incomprehensible that only 3 months ago she seemed to have only a cold and then the next thing I know she was yelling in torment in the hospital. It was more than I could bear. I remember turning into an adult at that moment. My first thought was to comfort Heather and whisk her away to the waiting room but we could still hear her screams down the hall. Describing it now still brings tears to my eyes. I felt her pain, I still feel it, interlaced with mine. Shortly thereafter she became unconscious with morphine. I watched in anguish - her dry mouth, the tubes, the flat hair, the eyes that no longer danced, her unnerving blank stare. But they never seemed real at the time. I never thought it was actually happening. I remember thinking at the hospital, this could be the last time we are all in the same room as a family but I didn’t actually grasp what that meant. I never believed the biggest real drama of my life was really unfolding before me. Sure my dad and the doctors all tried to tell me but I wouldn’t listen. I watched the deterioration of her body. It was no longer her. The sweaty palms, the glazed eyes, the yellow glow of her skin. I watched in anger as the nurses stopped being so attentive, only making her ‘Comfortable’. I ask, 'what is comfort?' How can it be that dying is comfortable? Leaving behind all those that love you and care about you. Not knowing what to expect. Not understanding why your body no longer responds to your efforts to make it move or do or feel. Only a void. I watch as this takes place, never believing, never realizing. I can't believe that the woman who always took care of me was lying in this metal hospital bed, unable to even blink her eyes. Unable to get up. unable to LIVE. I felt that she was deserting me. She saw angels on the wall, and she was indignant that I agree I saw them too. I was incredulous but refused to see the signs. She said she had to go, I said 'Go where??' I never understood. I felt like I was watching some movie. This wasn’t my mom or my life. Counseled by doctors we were to let her die if her breathing stopped. We weren’t to put her through a last attempt at trying to keep her alive. I was angry at the doctors when they gave up on her and when the nurses were slow to bring her ice chips or anything that gave her an once of comfort. I remember that fateful night, my sister and I were at home and we heard the door slam. We knew my dad was staying at the hospital every night so the minute we heard the door we knew. I heard the clunk of the worn golden wedding ring as it bounced on the counter and I felt disbelief and shock surge through my body. I sat on the couch as my sister was screaming and my dad was crying. Myself, even though I am the most emotional, I did not cry. I felt like I was in a trance but all I could do was repeat 'Are you sure??' I failed to understand why my dad left the hospital with only the bag of my moms clothes. The shoes she would never wear again. He had brought home the plants from her hospital room. WHY??? I didn't care or want to see those plants my mom had sat watching as she waited to die. Why hadn’t he brought HER back? Where was she? Why wasn’t she here for the biggest family moment we ever had???? Was he sure? Never coming back? I didn’t understand. What about for christmas or my birthday or if I got sick or when I get married? Didn’t those doctors understand? I NEEDED her. My family needed her. The rest of the night was a blur. I remember going to the mortuary the next day. We went together as a family, minus one. It was just like when we shopped for cars or went for a saturday lunch. But instead we were inside a foreboding room with dark varnished wood and thick carpet. We looked in the room where the caskets were laid out like a furniture store. It was as if we were trying to find a new piece to our dining room set, but it was so morbid. Eventually these wooden constructed boxes would all hold decaying corpses. As the Funeral arranger started to discuss fees for ‘Disposing of the corpse’ in graphic detail, I screamed in disgust and ran to the safety of the world outside that seemed so oblivious to my pain. I watched as a ladybug landed on my hand and thought how uncomplicated and happy her life must be. The voice in my head pleaded with my mom to come back. As we went to the next place, I felt as I did as a child, waiting for my parents to look at yet another car lot. But this time we were purchasing something I never imagined buying.


God, I miss her so much. I am so incredibly sad. I loved her more than anyone can love a parent, at least it seems that way to me. It is hard to believe that she is gone forever. Forever is such a long, long time. Sometimes I look forward to dying because I will see her again. I have literally a lifetime of memories of her. Actual words do not illustrate one millionth the intensity of my feelings. As I squeeze my eyes trying to remember, tears moisten my lashes. I yearn to remember the feeling of her hugging me or saying my name. I just want to recapture what it feels like to have a mom. I used to always wish when I was little for ‘no more death or sickness’ whenever I would blow on an eyelash, find a four leaf clover or blow out my candles on my birthday cake. I must have subconsciously known that that is what would tear my world apart. I never outwardly denied that it could happen but deep down I didn’t think it could really happen to my family. We were immune, special, simply because we were my family. I remember one day seeing my mom in the late afternoon sun. I had always assumed her eyes were brown but today her pupils were tightened up and I was shocked to discover her eyes were brown only on the edges. The insides were actually green. The only other person who has these eyes is my sister... Then it happens, I don’t even know where it comes from, I will be trying to go to sleep and am too tired to read. I shut my eyes only to render memories of my mom with my brain. Like how in 7th grade we got into a fight (I don't even remember why now) and I came home to find the hot curlers I had been wanting on my bed with a note that said she was sorry. When, she would put on the santa and the three bears record and make me French toast in bed whenever I stayed home sick from school, no matter if it was Christmastime or not. When we used to sit on the deck making art projects. When she would go all out on my theme birthday parties like the 4 cakes that were pac-man and ghosts with mentos for dots in between in third grade. I remember our long talks when I was a little girl. I would lie in my yellow canopy bed and my mom would sit on the edge. We would talk about everything. I remember how she could always make me feel better. I miss how she used to say my name. I wish I could still hear it. I long to hear her voice. Just hear her say ‘jennifer dear.’ And I love that word ‘Mom’. I long to say it out loud and have someone answer. It seems so foreign to my tongue now. It is weird when there is a word you say all the time and then all of a sudden never utter again. I sit up in my bed and see my red toes peeking out from the edge of the covers. Those aren’t my feet, are they? They look just like Mom's. Sometimes I will catch a glimpse of her in the mirror. My skin, her skin, my hands, her hands, the way I purse my lips, my toes, my pale legs, the same fingers, all her values and advice that echo through my head. Sometimes I have the illusion of me being in her body. So many things have happened to me that she doesn’t know about. I want to tell her about my friends, my job, my whole life. I miss shopping with her. I miss when I was little and she would come in and sit on my bed, scratch my back and we would have long talks. When it was raining and I was scared, she would tell me to pretend the rain was a hundred dancing ballerinas dancing on my roof. She was so selfless. She gave up her life for our family and those she cared about and I love who I am because of it. I furiously write as these beautiful memories seem to be slipping thru my fingers as though if not immediately captured, they will be gone forever. I am so worried that my memories will fade with time. I don’t want to forget one precious detail. If I close my eyes and really concentrate, I can picture and almost FEEL what it was like to be with her, so comforting, so safe. I denied my mother could ever get old, or sick. It never occurred to me that I would one day be without her. After some time had passed, I went to help my dad clear out some more of her things. I opened my mom’s side of the closet and was immediately immersed in memories, pungent and stinging. I allowed them to envelope me as I put on my mom’s green coat and the shock of the trauma wracked my body with sobs. Dad came over and hugged me. Then, filled with purpose and energy, I began to clear the closet. Of course I didn't let go of everything. I kept things that I will always treasure. I know I have a piece of my mom locked up inside of me that no one can ever take away but I finally believe that she is not coming back. Somehow the fourth chair at the restaurant table being empty is more ’normal’, Being a small family, my dad, Heather, and I have become amazingly close. We are understanding and open to each other since we know that life is precious. You must show those you love how much you care while you still can. My mom’s death taught me to grab hold of every moment and stuff as much life into each minute as possible. Tell others how much you love them right now. Call your long lost friends. Be happy. Because in the end today is all you have. The grass over her grave is no longer fresh sod, distinguishable from the rest of the grass. Now the border has disappeared and I know the grass only by the tombstone and my memory.