Mom. When I heard, I got down here as soon as I could. To be honest, when I woke up that morning, I had a bad feeling. That feeling in your gut that stirs you wide awake well before you're supposed to wake up. I immediately started cleaning up my place and getting my things together, I instinctively started packing. I knew. My instincts told me something was wrong. Paul called me and said "when can you get down here?"I got the first flight that I could: a 5:42PM flight to Florida and figured that would be plenty of time. I thought you would hold on at least through the weekend. I knew you were strong. I knew how you felt about your sons. And I knew you would wait for me to get down there. I threw everything in a suitcase and unplugged the Christmas tree, but left it standing for when I got back so I could celebrate Christmas with the kids. When I got to the airport, I almost didn't make the flight. I had to sprint though the terminal and I was literally the last person on the plane. Once on the plane, it was the most restless flight I've ever had. I could not rest. I could not find a comfortable position. You were on my mind. Surely Mom will hold on until I get there. The plane arrived in Ft Myers shortly after 9PM. It took forever for everyone to deplane. It seemed like an eternity, but I was trying to be patient. I wanted pass everyone to run to the front of the plane and forget my luggage and get to you as soon as I could. But as fate would have it, I had to wait. There was even more of a delay when I got to baggage claim. It seemed like forever. Bill texted me. "We're outside baggage claim." Since there was no movement at baggage claim, I figured I'd run out to let them know where I was. I went to the curb and Bill and Dawn were there waiting. I ran up to the car all excited to see them, and Bill got out of the car. "She's gone."
Two words that I will never forget as long as I live.
"When?" I asked.
"About half an hour ago."
My heart shattered into a million pieces. Instantly. Right then and there. My mother. Gone. I tried to remain focused. Had to go back and get my suitcase. Bill gave me a hug. I was completely numb. I went back into the terminal trying to process the information I had just been given. I walked amongst the anonymous faces waiting for their bags and tried to act like I just hadn't been told that my Mom had died. I grabbed my bag and dragged it out to the curb. The ride to the hospice was quiet. Mom passed within minutes of my plane landing. First person I talked to was Genevieve. There's literally no one else I would call first. The mother of my children. Despite our differences, my Mom adored her. It was good to hear her voice.
I missed Mom by minutes. Minutes. I couldn't even process this fact. I don't know. Maybe she knew I had made it to Florida? Maybe she knew that her sons were all there? I walked into the room at the hospice, took a few deep breaths, did the sign of the cross, and saw her lying there. I walked over to her, kissed her on the head, and said, "Mom, I got here as soon as I could." I burst into tears. But not the way I thought I would. It was only for a few seconds. I was trying to be strong. I put my hand on hers and said what she said at the end of every phone conversation" "Bye for now."
Mom, just know that Paul and Shari were by your side as you took your last breath. I wish I was, but I was just a little too late. I am thankful for the month that we had in November. I had no idea you were so close to leaving us. I'm so glad we got to spend time together. Mom, you know I love you with all of my heart. Thank you for all you've done for us. All that you've sacrificed over the years. Just know that it did not go unnoticed. I appreciated everything. From you tucking me in, reading me stories, singing me to sleep, letting me stay up late to watch Johnny Carson and have hot chocolate with you, writing my name on my lunch bag, even all the things you did that I never knew about or noticed, you always had my back. Mom, you are always with me in my heart, so in that way you are still here with me.
Love, your son, Peter