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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Lost at the mall - The day your Mother dies

When I was about seven years old I went to the Avalon mall with my mother. We would always start at Woolco. She would take me to the toy department and let me play while she shopped. After about 20 minutes of exploring the toy department I decided to go look for her. I walked through the store looking up and down every aisle like I was crossing the street, but I couldn't find her.

I searched the store but she was nowhere to be found. I thought I spotted her in the shoe department. I ran towards her but realized as I got close, it was a lady with a similar coat. I began to panic and started to run faster through store calling out to her. I circled the store one more time and still no sign of her.
Panic turned to fear as I realized I was lost and tears began to flow. The tears were blurring my sight and I couldn't breathe. I tried calling out "Mom, Mom" but the only thing that could escape from my throat was a dry heavy, gulp of tears.

A sales lady stopped me and asked if I was lost. I tried to say yes but I could barely breathe from the heavy sobs coming from my chest. All I could do was nod yes. She brought me to the customer service desk and as we got closer I could see my mother talking to the lady behind the counter and ran towards her. I couldn't get a word out of my throat. She saw me coming and I flew into her arms.
She said, "Where were you? I've been looking for you everywhere!" My face was soaking from tears, and snot that left train tracks on my cheeks and chin. She took a tissue from her coat pocket and dried my face. All I could get out was one word at a time between heavy sobs. "I thought you left me" I cried. "You know I'd never leave you" she said.

She took me by the hand and we went to the restaurant, sat down and had custard cones until I calmed down.
That feeling of being lost at Woolco came back to me this week. When my sister called to say mom, who had been sick for a while had been admitted to hospital and wasn't doing well. As I drove towards the hospital that feeling of panic and fear that I felt as a seven-year-old lost in a store, came back to me. When I ran across the parking lot the tears were blurring my sight and I wanted to call out "Mom, Mom" but the only thing that could escape from my throat was a dry heavy, gulp of tears.

I rode the elevator to the 7th floor and took a wrong turn. I ended up on the opposite end of the hospital. I stopped at the nursing station and told the nurse at the desk I was looking for my Mother. She brought me to her room. When I got there she was frail and weak. I took her by the hand and said "I got lost when I got off the elevator and couldn't find you." My face was soaking from tears and snot that left train tracks on my cheeks and chin. She held a tissue in her hand and she dried my face. All I could get out was one word at a time between heavy sobs. "I thought you left me" I cried. "You know I'd never leave you" she said.
I took her hand but this time I knew we were not going for ice cream. I knew this time would be the last time she found me. At 85 her various health problems had caught up with her. The heart that had given decades of unconditional love was failing her. I was able to spend an hour with her by myself before the army of children, grand-children and great-grand-children showed up. We got to say good-bye.

Today she closed her eyes and went to sleep and I cried like a seven-year-old lost at Woolco who knew she would never be found again.
I love you Mom and thank you for everything.