Goodbyes are not forever, it simply means “I’ll miss you” until we meet again

Well, how else do you say it? Mom passed away 1 week ago today. The last week has been a complete whirlwind. It doesn’t feel real.

I stayed with her while she was at hospice. I slept next to her bed and would give her water, speak for her, or just talk to her. It broke my heart to watch her go. On the last day that she fully spoke we watched the sunrise together. She really wanted to sleep and I told her, “you’re not going to miss this.”

sunrise seagulls

We talked about how beautiful it was. I fed her some breakfast and we just reflected on some things. The kids came by a little later on. She asked Colin to always be good and gave him a big hug and kiss. I finally explained what was happening to her and he was shell shocked. He kept saying he wanted her to get better. It broke my heart to tell him that wasn’t going to be happening. Alex had all the “why” questions. He was taking it so hard I brought my Mom in on the conversation. He told her he didn’t want her ALWAYS watching him, privacy would be nice. He thought being able to fly would be cool. He still ended up leaving so sad. Later on, my Mom kicked me out for awhile with Eli. She told me she needed me to go have dinner and such, but wanted me to stay over again. Alex ended up wanting to go back and give her a kiss goodnight. Her whole face lit up and they went back and forth of who loved eachother more. When he left she said to me, “that just made me SO happy”. After that day, she stopped talking.

Last sunrise with Mom

Last sunrise with Mom

The morning she passed it was 4:30 am. Eli jumped and got the kids together, and we dropped them off at my Mother in Laws. When we got to the hospice it was peaceful. We stayed with her until the sunrise was over. As morbid as it sounds, when we got there she was still warm. It felt more like a “sorry we missed you” visit. I was so happy we decided to see her though. We ended up doing a closed casket wake because it just didn’t look like her.

Over 350 people came to her wake, and we received people for over 4 hours. It was a true testament of how one person could touch SO many lives. Below is her eulogy that I gave at her mass.

“My Mother never knew a stranger. Anywhere we went, there was someone she taught, knew, grew up with, or touched their life somehow. The comments I have received from people were how spunky, happy, the zest for life she had, and she smile that always shown through. She was that and more to me.

Her longest impact in the community was her teaching. She spent the majority of her career in Trumbull, at Tashua elementary. She was so dedicated to teaching and her students. Whether is was the pretzel sitcks she gave out for good grades, the butterflies she grew, endless field trips she hosted, or her warm caring manner to her students, she had an impact that carried for decades. Whenever she ran into a past student or parent, she could have told you everything about the child, family, their birthdays, and what they were up to now.

After she retired, it was clear she couldn’t stay away form schools for long. She had started volunteering for Read Aloud Day, and settled into reading regularly at Hall School in Bridgeport. It gave her such pleasure to donate books, pencils, and more to the students there. Even in her volunteer work she would still get to know the children, and remember them long after.

A fun fact about Mom: she wasn’t Irish, at all. It started as a joke with the Irish by Marriage sweatshirts, and the Irish Step Dancing she had us in, that led to a deep love for the culture. She went to Ireland twice, joined the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee, ran the Miss Shamrock competition, and St Patrick’s day was one of her biggest events of the year for her. Our family home has an abundance of Irish blessings, shamrocks, and more. I feel no one would deny now she was more than an honorary Irish person to us all.

As a Mom, my mother was a one of a kind. She would take us anywhere educational but fun at the same time. Over the last 6 months we would sit and reminisce a lot about us growing up. Whether it was going to the beach searching through milkweed for caterpillar eggs, or how she played baseball in the street with all the neighborhood kids, she was a bit of a tomboy. She loved how creative the three of us were. She remembered the plays we put on for her and my father, the concerts Maura would create with friends, and how Megan and I would play Alien attack while our Father mowed the lawn. Our swingset was the best spaceship. She had always wished for more, and would instill in me to make the best of what you have.

Her greatest achievement in recent years was being a grandmother. She was so happy to finally have boy in the family and spoiled them, sometimes too much.The trips we took together to Disney, Vermont, and more had some of the best memories we hold dear. She treasured reading them stories, holding their hand, cutting loose on a ride, or introducing them to their favorite character.  She was happy to bake Christmas cookies this past December with them, and commented on Meg’s  extreme patience watching them douse the cookies in decorations. She was incredibly excited that Colin was in 1st grade this year and gave him as many workbooks and more that he could use. She loved Alex’s incredibly inappropriate bathroom humor, and his infectious laugh. When Conner was born, she got lost his gorgeous blue eyes, and would pick out clothes that she thought would best bring them out. There is nothing better than a babies unwavering  love. She had so many plans for them and in hospice suckered me into promising to teach Alex’s class about meal worms. His teachers are thrilled.

In her last days we made the most of what we had. I thanked her for being my best friend, and she lit up saying, “we had a lot of great times didn’t we?” She helped me explain to my boys what was happening, and although Alex was so sad he went back that same day to give her a kiss goodnight. They went back and forth of who loved eachother more, and she exclaimed after he left of how happy that made her. She made Colin promise to always be good, and when she couldn’t talk sat, and lovingly held one of Conner’s feet.

She was so excited for Meg’s upcoming wedding. Starting last year she dove headfirst into wanting to know all the details of planning. We were so luck to be able to Facetime her in for dress shopping, and she got to see Meg’s face when she realized she was wearing the “one”. Even when she was weak, she would light up with excitement when Meg asked how the invited should be worded, or that the save the dates were mailed out. When she heard how much time she had left I told her she needed to give Meg a sign that day, that she was with her. I told her a double rainbow would be fantastic. Funny enough, Meg has been seeing rainbows in her room, reflecting from icicles outside. It really is the little things sometimes.

She has left me with a bucket list of things to do. Places she wanted to go, things to eat, candles to buy, and things to experience. I will do them for her and hopefully live with as much zest as she did.

I take comfort in knowing my Mom is back with my Father, her Prince Charming. I know she wasn’t alone when she passed, and he led the way for her. I cherish the last sunrise I watched with her, and how she thought it was, “so beautiful”. Even though she wanted to sleep, I cranked her bed up, and told her she couldn’t miss this. As we watched the seagulls flying above the water, and the sun creeping through the clouds, we both knew gods grace was with us, just as it is hopefully here today.”

Can I just say, it felt weird to have people applauding a eulogy? Its only a glimpse into my Mom’s life but it was enough. I’m waiting for her to call me for something completely irrelevant. Today she would have called to exchange Happy Valentine’s Day wishes and talked about the kids having a second snow day. We would be making plans for next week, and  where we could take the kids. We would be gossiping, laughing, and discussing random things. I’m trying to figure out  how I will move on….. I am sure I will get back to posting about happier things. I just needed to put this out there…

Here are some photos of my Mom from happier times. Its how I will choose to remember her.

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