The Long Goodbye

That’s what my therapist called it. The end of that life where your mother is living independently in her own dwelling with her own things.

The end of ever again being able to go crash at Mom’s apartment on a Friday night in November when my furnace is shut off for repair, sitting on her couch (that I bought for her years ago), scribbling my daily NaNoWriMo word count as she settles into her early bedtime routine.

The end of sitting at her retro kitchen table drinking Newman’s Own coffee, discussing the latest entertainment gossip, or, more recently, all the music and screen legend deaths.

The end of laughing with blithe innocence over the Seinfeld episode where Jerry goes to visit his parents in Florida, where they keep the temperature in their unit up way too hot, and Elaine gets high on muscle relaxers after straining her back.

(My mom kept the temperature at, like, ninety. Not lying, y’all. By the way, the couch in this clip looks a lot like Mom’s couch. Weird . . .)

The end of me living in a constant state of anxiety over the next fall, the next medical crisis, the will she seriously injure herself and die?

The first week of March, my mother was transferred to a long term care facility.

Mom, after first hip surgery, when I thought she would recover just fine.
Mom, after first hip surgery, when I thought she would eventually recover just fine.

I’ve been spending the last month, among other things, doing the dreaded task of clearing out my mom’s apartment.

It’s been rough.

On Saturday, my Squad helped me finish up the bulk of it. Allan made two trips to Goodwill. Martha emptied the kitchen cupboards. Dia “held my hand” as I sorted the video and DVD rack—me and Mom’s annual holiday ritual was watching movies together. Dia also doled out tough love when I crumple-faced over parting with sentimentals, such as the tattered picture of a rabbit family that adorned my bedroom wall as a kid.

Oh, it was hard tossing the Rabbit Family pic. Thankfully, Martha took this photo.

“Shannon, your Mom’s all right,” Martha announced. She approved of Mom’s stash of cleaning supplies and kitchen knife collection. Dia said she and my mom have the same taste in movies—Chicken Run, A Little Princess, Princess Mononoke.

Dia and I had just finished clearing out the linen closet when Allan told me I had a visitor.

There in the doorway, looking a little lost, stood my mom’s neighbor Joseph, who used to come over every day, rap on Mom’s door with his cane, and dump her trash and recycling after she became too weak and frail to do it herself.

“I didn’t know Susan was moving,” Joseph said.

Yeah, because I hadn’t had the heart to tell him yet.

“I’m sure going to miss seeing her every day,” he said. Thank God Martha stood by me, holding the door open, or I might have lost it.

I’ve been crying a lot over many things over the past month. This morning, though, when I woke up, the first image that flashed through my mind was the look on Joseph’s face as he realized he was losing his friend.

That is what’s making me cry today.

Martha, Allan, and Dia - aka The Squad.
Martha, Allan, and Dia – aka The Squad – after emptying the last truck load.

12 thoughts on “The Long Goodbye

  1. Shannon, I am honored to read this and sad that the cycles of life seem to change so swiftly. Rarely am I at a loss for words Know that my heart is sending you love and light.


  2. Shannon that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a personal experience with all of us. I’m sending you and your mom lots of love and light.


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