On Grief And Gag T-Shirts

My Mom’s birthday was a year ago yesterday. It was a Saturday and she requested Outback Steakhouse for dinner but since we were in the first surge of the pandemic I ordered it for carry out and my daughter and I went to pick it up. I remember it very vividly because it was the first “carry out” we had done during the pandemic and she and I were blown away looking inside the window at the crowded restaurant with maskless patrons.

Mom ordered a blooming onion and steak and potatoes and when we got it back to her house she offered to share the blooming onion with us. Nikki had never had one and was suitably blown away by it’s awesomeness.

This becomes important in a few days.

We gave her a new fluffy blanket (My Mom could not get enough fluffy blankets) and we sat and watched football with her while she ate her dinner. She had gotten dressed up for our company and fixed her hair, something she never ever did as she was always in a dialysis depression. She declared it a really good day.

On Monday, she begged to miss dialysis. I called in her absence and they lectured us but she just wanted a day off after her birthday weekend. I was very frustrated because this had been happening more and more lately and she was feeling terrible because of it. Every missed dialysis (she went three times a week) led to her blood getting more and more toxic so she would feel terrible which would – of course – make her not want to go the next time either. I was bracing myself for this on her next dialysis day.

Tuesday she talked about skipping Wednesday too. This was not acceptable because her last session had been Friday, so we were getting into dangerous territory. She admitted she didn’t care, she was thinking she wanted to quit all together. She had a good holiday season and a good birthday, she didn’t think she could make it anymore.

And she didn’t. She died the following Sunday. 9 days after her last dialysis session. They didn’t think she’d make it a week.

I am currently living that last week over and over in my head. From her Outback birthday dinner Saturday night to her last breath late Sunday night a week later. A lot of flashbacks, a lot of grief, and of course this is all happening in the middle of another Covid surge and my kids are doing virtual school again and my husband sliced his finger open and is getting irritated with my constant sadness. “I’m the middle of a bad week,” I told him this morning, “It feels like we’ve had 52 of those,” he responded. It was harsh but he’s right. It’s been a rough year. As he pointed out later in the discussions, “It’s been a rough few years.” He’s right about that too. I think I’ve not been 100% stable since I started taking care of Mom in 2018.

So I’m going to try to focus on the things that bring me joy. Maybe avoid catastrophically depressing books. (Recent reads: The School for New Mothers and The Poisonwood Bible…not joyful reads in the slightest.) Maybe try to play more Pok√©monGo which I have abandoned in the cold weather. Maybe paint more. I don’t know. I need to find a reserve to tap into for the next week so I don’t just wallow in the flood of sad memories.

We’ll start with the t-shirt I got this weekend. Our family exchanged names in October and ordered each other gag shirts from Nice Shirt Thanks to exchange on Christmas Eve. E drew my name but the shirt got delayed until last week.

It was definitely worth the wait. He told them I loved reading, Twilight and Ted Lasso. I think they nailed it.