My mom and I were lying under the covers of her bed, cracking jokes and laughing like hyenas. It was past her bedtime, but she couldn’t fall asleep, so we got to hang out for a little bit longer than usual.
The next morning, I woke up to sobbing and screaming. My mother was found unconscious lying on the bathroom floor.
Losing my mother was the first death I had ever experienced in my life. The autopsy results didn’t get back to us for a month or so, so at the time, I had nothing to hold onto, nothing to tell me how and why this was happening.
All I knew was that I was wearing the black dress at her funeral, the one that was the last thing my mom and I had ever bought together. The only thing I knew in my disarrayed state of mind was that she loved how I looked in that dress.
I placed roses into her casket and said a goodbye I didn’t understand why I had to say in the first place.
After the funeral, I thought a lot about all the last things that my mother said and did in this world. I was so determined to find the answers to why the only mother I will ever have was taken away from me so unexpectedly.
The more people talked and confided to me about their last memories with my mom, the stranger and yet somewhat reassuring this situation came to be. The events that took place leading up to my mom’s death and what would follow afterward were so surreal that it seemed almost as if my mother knew she about to die.
These are the pieces I’ve put together since my mom passed away.
My mother could cook! I’m pretty sure my father fell in love with her because of her lasagna. After she died, my dad found a dish of pasta that she'd cooked to give to her coworkers. Sometime during her last week, she'd cooked their favorite dish of hers. My dad delivered it.
On her last day, she woke up and made coffee. My grandmother noticed that my mom had used the last of her Splenda. What you need to understand about my mom is that this is something that would literally never ever happen. My mom was always so adamant about stocking up on her coffee and whatever else she needed for it, like her Splenda, because my mom drank coffee like her life depended on it.
But on this particular morning, when my grandma addressed not having any Splenda for tomorrow, my mom smiled at her and laughed it off.
Then, after work, my dad swears my mom was the bubbliest he had ever seen her. She was such a ball of energy, she could barely contain herself. She couldn’t even fall asleep during her last night, even though I used to always make fun of her for being out like a light by 8:30 pm sharp.
To make use of her unusual energy, after staying up with me, she hung out with my dad until they dozed off to the sounds of the TV. Everybody got to spend a little more time with her than usual.
Then, when we returned home from the hospital after finding out the news, we were greeted with a package on our doorstep bearing my mom's name. As we walked back inside the house and entered the kitchen, my dad turned to me and said, “This is actually for you.”
My mom passed away a week after my eighth-grade graduation. The package that was labeled for her was a surprise gift for me. It was a book about Audrey Hepburn, my hero at the time. I opened up the book, and this was the first page I turned to:
Later that day, we had family come over for a prayer vigil. My cousin said that when he arrived, he noticed the weather was odd. On the side of the neighborhood where I lived, it was raining. On the other side, it wasn’t.
The autopsy revealed that my mother passed away from a heart attack. She had a treatable heart condition, arrhythmia, but since we didn’t know she had it, it was never treated. The doctors even told us that her heart attack was the rarest of its kind. She could have had a physical on her last day, and the doctors wouldn’t have been able to spot it. They essentially told us that no one could have saved her.
Mid-fall, and she was gone.
A month or so after my mom passed away, my sister and I got a call letting us know about some appointments my mom had scheduled for us with a cardiologist.
It sure felt like my mother subconsciously knew she was going to die. Maybe she did, maybe she didn't. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to search for the answers — for closure — there are no answers at all.
Things just happen the way they do; the unexplainable gets resolved by accepting no explanation at all. If moving on means I've misinterpreted a set of crazy coincidences, then so be it.
Because regardless of whether these moments I hold onto are significant or not, I just wanted to feel better. So when all was said and done with my mom, I handled it the way I believe she wanted me to.
I did whatever it would take to enjoy life and be happy, because at the end of the day, that really is all that matters.