twenty two years

it was twenty two years ago today when we made our way to the hospital for your birth.  you were two weeks late and still quite comfortable in your cocoon so they had to induce me.  I remember the doctor breaking my water.  "not much there" she said.  I worried that you would be all wrinkly from the lack of fluid.  is it ok that there isn't that much fluid?  I was not brave enough to ask those kinds of questions back then.  I was just twenty five and so unsure of my own skin that I wasn't sure how I was going to be a mother.

the day went on trying to urge you to come.  we walked the halls.  checked how many centimetres and back to the bed.  up and down and all around, but nothing.  I remember listening to the other mothers across the hall wailing and screaming bloody murder.  I thought to myself that is not going to be me.  we are all good right now.  and then the first contraction came and I thought I would die right then and there.  it was strong and hard and whoa!  "what the hell?" I yelled!  the nurse came and assured me that we were on our way.  the contractions had begun and we were in it.  okay, I was in it and everyone else was running around getting machines and instruments ready and calling the doctor and your father was calling the family.  oh he was so excited to see you.  he called you "eddy" from the moment we found out I was pregnant.  I kept telling him there was no way we were calling you "eddy".

the doctor came and it became apparent that she would be unable to deliver you.  they needed to call in another doctor.  what?  I held on to my tummy, to you, trying to reassure you that we would be fine.  laying in the bed feeling absolutely helpless and half naked I turned into a mother bear.  I never knew it would come like that, but it did.  that mother instinct that people talk about.  hurt my baby and your ass is mine!  the second doctor came in and then an entourage of nurses.  it was so crowded.  push!  oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.  the baby is not moving.  forceps!  no!  OH MY GOD!  the pain that went down my leg was so unbearable that I screamed wildly and no one knew what was happening.  there was a pause and then the doctor said if I didn't give one last good push that we were headed to a C section.

and I think at that moment you and I were ready to release from each other.  I believe that you stayed inside me for as long as you could so that we would both be ready to walk this world independently.  your birth brought forth a fire in me that I never knew I had.  the strength and courage that came afterwards changed the course of our lives forever.

and so you came.  you didn't cry.  you just looked at me with a look of "hey ma, what the hell?"  oh I cried.  I cried at how beautiful you were.  I cried while I counted your fingers and toes and stroked your cheek where they caught you with the forceps.  you were so tiny.

and here we are today, twenty two years later.  from the moment you were born I have been overjoyed at watching you move in this world.  your first word, your first step and all the firsts.  all that we have been through together and how through it all you have grown into an amazing man.  from your first inhale I knew that the world had no idea what was coming and you have made me proud throughout.  thank you for choosing me to be your mother.  thank you for so many beautiful moments and memories.  thank you for learning from me and teaching me.  thank you for being - YOU!  

one month

there are moments when I think she is still here.  I get up and start to plan my day remembering that I need to go and see her and then I realize that she is not there anymore.

routine is a funny thing.  for some routine is what keeps them going, keeps them breathing and reassures them that they are good.  if that routine is disrupted you are left with an aching to find that new routine, new direction, new purpose I guess.  you start the lists of things to do and proudly check them off one by one as they are completed.  for me the checking off makes me feel like I have accomplished something.  I know, I know that is what the list is all about, but really it is an exercise that I do daily and when I check something off I feel better.  I feel like I contributed to something.  it's part of my routine.

in her final week mom's routine and ours became dictated by her, her care givers and each other.  when the decision was made to begin end of life care none of us wanted to leave her side.  we wanted her to know that she was loved and we were here by her side and to not be afraid and we are taking good care of you mom.  we are not going to leave you alone mom.

one of the most important things was to insure that she was not in pain at any time.  they would have her pain meds coming every six hours and then every two hours if needed a smaller dose.  what would happen though is that we could see her start to curl her toes, knees to her chest in a fetal position and she would start lifting her arm up.  I could feel her getting agitated and restless and so we would stay and demand the extra shot every two hours before she started getting restless.  I would ask the nurse if they thought she was in pain.  no, no, do not worry she is not in any pain.  I found it hard to believe them and asked that the doses be closer together without me continually having to demand it.  

those final days and nights had us all worrying and fretting about each other.  did you eat something for breakfast dad?  yeah.  are you going to get some lunch now?  I'm here, you go, I'll stay here till you get back.  did you sleep last night?  I'm coming back now, did you need anything?  the nights had their own routine.  every two hours they would come in and flip her position.  sometimes they would wash her and change her gown.  then the injections and sometimes they were just coming by to see how she was doing.  how was I holding up.

It was hard to sleep while all I could hear was the hum of the oxygen machine.  it was so hot in that room.  there was a fan on the counter and one on the floor.  the window was open but there was no breeze.  her roommate snored loudly and there I lay in the middle not believing what I was living through.  not knowing if I just shut my eyes for a moment if she would be gone when I woke up again.

whenever they came in to change her position I would leave the room.  I headed outside for some fresh air and just to enjoy the quietness of the early morning.  I would return and she would be wrapped up like a newborn baby.  I would start to peel back the layers and lean to give her a kiss.  I'm here mama.  it's nadia.  I love you.  those first few days her breathing was smooth and it seemed like she was finally resting comfortably.  as the days went on and her speech began to fail her she became frustrated.  she would gather all her strength to say "I love you too honey".  when my dad would bend down to give her a kiss she would struggle but pucker up and give him one back.  it was heart breaking and beautiful all at the same time.  the love those two shared was an incredible gift that I was able to witness time and time again.  what an example they gave me of what true love looks like.

the last couple of days she was unable to speak at all.  her eyes wide open and her mouth as well.  I kept holding on to the belief that she could still hear us.  she knew we were here and we gathered around telling her we loved her and it was okay to go.  we will be fine mama.  I will make sure dad is fine.  I will take care of him.  go, mama, rest, it's ok.  we all said good bye.  we all gave her permission to die and yet she was still hanging on.

the final day before she died was the hardest of all.  I felt like I was pushing her to die.  it was an awful feeling.  doubts flooded into my head.  what if someone made a mistake?  what if she wanted to tell us something but couldn't?  what was she waiting for?  I thought she was hanging on for dad.  their love so strong.  their bond tight.  I couldn't imagine how it felt to know that the one you loved so deeply was about to leave you and you would never be able to hold them again, kiss them, touch them.  michael sensed fear when he was by her side.  I thought maybe he was right.  maybe she was afraid of what was next.  the unknown.

they finally moved her to a private room.  there was a beautiful breeze coming through the window.  lots of room for us to pile in and comfort each other.  we talked about memories and laughed about some of the silly things she had done.  we replayed the mass for her on the tiny tape recorder my dad had brought in.  it was recorded in italy where my nonna lived.  an outdoor mass that they gathered for annually to praise the madonna of water.  there was one part where mom's voice came on.  she was saying good bye to someone.  her old voice.  so clear and so full of life.  it was eerie to hear her like that after so long.

michael sent me home for the night.  after days of sleeping there he wanted me to have a good rest in my own bed.  I didn't want to leave her but I knew it was all catching up to me.  I needed to rest.  I needed to refuel for the next day, the next night, the next...

then the call came early in the morning that she was gone.  michael had woken up and went to check her and she was gone.  the nurse was called and she said she had just checked her a few minutes earlier and she was fine.  she was gone.  I called dad.  I got in the car.  I thanked god for ending the suffering and for it being early enough that the roads were bare and that the rest of the residents would still be sleeping.  we were able to see her without any disturbances of the breakfast crowd or staff flying around.  it was quiet.  she was at peace.  she was finally at peace.

many hours were spent by her bed writing in my journal.  I felt this urgency to get it all down before I forgot it.  I practically filled it by the time she was gone.  memories of her as a child, her as a wife and as my mother and nonna to dan.  stories she had told me and details I didn't want to forget.  it became an invaluable tool when I went to compose the eulogy.

writing also kept me busy.  I was focusing on the words as they flowed out of my pen.  what was happening to her with each passing minute was in my eyes a suffering that no one should have to endure.  what we watched as she slowly faded away was what I feel no one should have to witness.

the pain is still fresh.  the picture in my head of her laying there still clear.  I keep having dreams of her healthy and running around again.  life goes on and time will pass and so too shall the awful images.  I feel like my dreams are willing me to remember the young vibrant woman that she once was.  I feel her with me whenever I think of her and as I start to rebuild a new routine I feel her guiding me.  thank you mama.  thank you for always have been there to guide me.  fly bird fly.

faves on friday

some things that have made me go hmm...

I remember when I was a little girl mom had a typewriter that she would type all of her letters on.  she was a two fingered typist and if she made a mistake she would back up and XX through the error.  she double spaced and always had a black coffee and cigarette beside her.  I loved the typewriter and loved typing class.  probably the only class I got an A in.  I loved doing the exercises in class and would sneak the book home and practice all night on our typewriter.  I was so excited when my friend brought me one of her found typewriters this year.  I have been clicking away every since!

there is SO much goodness here!  I think I gained ten pounds just reading the recipe for pumpkin cupcakes with salted buttercream frosting and the peanut butter chocolate rice crispy treats.  yum!

I'm not a meat eater but I think I could tweak this by making a ricotta spinach filling.  imagine how it would stand out at a pot luck.

skateboarding keeps popping up in front of me.  oh I spent hours on the board when I was younger.  I wish I would have kept some of my old skateboards.  I wonder if this ole girl could still do a kick flip!

Transit Skateboards - Feel at Home - Trailer from Transit Skateboards on Vimeo.

I love this!

fan of TED?  you will love this!

and to end a beautiful poem:

italy 2010

today we would have celebrated her 45th birthday.  I have thought of her often during these last few weeks.  at the home begging her to hear me and take mom.  take her so that she does not suffer anymore.  please, tammy, please, help!

on the porch when I did not know what the next step should be.  when I threw my hands up in the air and let the tears pour out of me.  I called for her.  what do I do?  what should I do?  how can I do this?

when tammy was diagnosed with breast cancer her courage came shining through.  her smile made it seem like - meh, this too shall pass.  she was brave and beautiful through every step.

when the team was formed to walk 60 km for two days to raise funds for breast cancer she was the one up ahead making it look like it was a breeze.  her brother's knee was bugging him.  her sister changed shoes as her feet were hurting.  and I was just weeks shy of my first marathon so I had been training hard but I had ice packs on my ass.  the three of us walking behind her trying to mask the pain.  how could she do this?  she turned around at one point and said to me "you ok?"  I couldn't believe it!  "am I ok?" I said.  "I am ok because you are showing me that no matter how much pain and suffering you went through you are still here.  you are not giving up.  you've never given up!  and yes, I am ok and I love you and let's keep going."  from that moment on she became my angel.  her beautiful smile and her strength kept me going.

when I finally did run the marathon and "hit the wall" as they say I could feel her on my shoulder.  her strength and her support telling me I could do it.  keep going...  and I did and I finished and she was there all along.

this past october was a celebration for five years cancer free!  woo!  december on the beach with family.  and a new year in january.  new goals, new dreams, a future of possibilities.  2012 we are gonna knock you out of the park!

and then came the call.  at first I thought it was her father.  he had been in and out of the hospital every month for the past year.  no, no it is tammy.  it is tammy.  those words brought me to my knees.  the cancer is back.  they've admitted her.  they are running tests.  they are...."I'm coming" I said.  on my way to the hospital and I still am not sure how I made it there in one piece.  all I could say was "why?" why and WTF?  there must be some mistake.  she is going to be fine.  she went through this once before.  why?  how can it be back?

when I saw her laying there I could not believe my eyes.  "hey" I said.  "wtf?"  I held back the tears as best I could.  I hugged her tight and told her "you got this".  yes, she agreed.  "why?" we both said together.  her answer was "I guess I didn't get the lesson the first time".  people say everything happens for a reason and there is always a lesson to be learned.  phft!

again through it all she was brave, she was strong and she amazed me.  the night we said our final good bye she told us not to cry.  she said it was alright.  she told us to take care of each other.  it ripped my heart open to leave her.  to know that I would never hug her again.  see her smile so bright and her giggle each time I told her I loved her.  how beautiful she was.  a true beauty, inside and out.

she continues to be there for me.  I can feel her on my shoulder.  she is helping me to get through all of this.  I can feel her pulling me back when the red flags pop up and her gentle push when I should be brave and go forward.  thank you tammy.  thank you for always being there!

happy birthday beautiful tammy!  I have my bellini ready!  cheers to you!  you incredible courageous and gorgeous woman.  I love you!

for mama