Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mama's Robe

Mama died.  She died when I was nine-years-old.  My dad woke me up on Christmas morning with the phrase, “Your mom died.”  Those three words changed my life forever.  Those were the only words he said to me, and then he left me in my bed to cry.  She was sick.  She had been sick a long time.  I was angry, sad, and lost all at the same time.  I no longer had a mama.  I had brothers and sisters, and a dad…but no mama. 

Why did it have to be on Christmas morning of all times?  I should have woke up to gifts and Christmas breakfast, but that did not happen.  Instead, I woke up to death.  I woke up to my older sister going through my mama’s stuff to find my mama’s last dress she would ever wear.  I was in mama’s room.  I saw my sister put mama’s wig in a bag along with the dress.  My mama would not have wanted people to see her without her hair.  I saw mama’s robe, so I picked it up and smelled it.  I inhaled her scent deeply as if it would bring her home.  I did not want anyone to see me cry.  I held my tears.  I snuck my mama’s robe into my room and laid with it.  I rubbed my face in it and inhaled again.  My mama was gone, but I still had her robe.  I wrapped myself in it and cuddled in it as if she was holding me in her arms tight.  The tears now flowed freely.  I wanted to stay right there, in that robe, in my mama’s smell forever.

Memories of my mama flowed into my mind along with my tears.  Like the many times I told her, “I love you four!” and she would reply, “But I love you even more!”  I snuggled deeper into that robe and kept whispering, “I love you four mama….I love you four.”  I wanted her to reply more than anything, but all I got was tear-filled silence.  I did not want to get up.  I did not want to go into the other room to face the truth.  I wanted to be with my mama.  I felt if I stayed in the robe, then it all was just a dream.

I could hear the others in the living room going about the business of making funeral arrangements.  I could hear my dad on the phone.  He was telling people what time my mom would be ‘viewable’.  That was such a bad word.  Viewable.  I hated every single word I heard.  My sister knocked at my door and told me it was time to get ready.  I had laid in my bed a very long time even though it felt like only a few minutes.  I did not want to leave the robe.  I hid the robe under my mattress.  I was not going to let anyone take it from me. 

My sister got me ready for the funeral.  She brushed my tangled hair so hard I thought it was going to fall out.  “Mama would want you to look nice,” she said.  I did not want to look nice.  I wanted to go back to my bed with my mama’s robe.  My sister made me wear an ugly dress and stupid shoes too.  My mama would have never made me wear that stuff.  I was tempted to tell my sister that she was not my mama and could not tell me what to wear, but I did not.  I knew I would get in trouble if I did.

I hated the funeral.  I hated seeing my mama laying there like that.  She looked like she was asleep, but I knew she was not.  I did not want to look at her anymore because that was not my mama.  So I looked everywhere else instead.  I hated having to sit in the front pew with my dad.  I hated that the preacher looked at me with sad eyes.  I did not need pity.  I did not like people looking at me.  I hated that my teacher was a couple of pews behind me.  My life was not her business and I was mad at her for being here.  It was not her mama-it was mine.  I hated that my aunt walked up to the casket, cried aloud in front of everyone, and then passed out in the floor.  I hated that everyone ran to my aunt to make sure she was ok.  I hated it all. 

I looked at my mama again.  I really looked at her this time.  All of the hate that I had inside melted away and was replaced with sorrow.  I did not hate anyone...or anything.  I was angry because my mama was laying up there all dead and everyone was staring at her.  I did not like anyone seeing my mama like this.  This was not how she wanted people to see her.  Tears welled up in my eyes but I knew I had to be quiet. I looked back up there at my mama.  She was laying in white fabric and I guess it did somehow make her look like an angel.  A sleeping angel.  My poor mama.  She was "my" angel mama now. 

I would never see my mama again.  I would never get to have her hold me again either.  I could feel tears trickle down my face.  I did not wipe them away.  She deserved my tears.  My mama was my life.  She took such good care of me.  She always fixed my hair the best, always dressed me the nicest, and always held me when I needed her.  She always stayed with me when I was sick.  I remember the cool washcloths she used to put on my forehead when I had fevers.  She deserved my tears now...and she definitely deserved to be an angel. 

My mama had a hard life.  She had ten children.  She was wore out.  I remember seeing her in the hospital before she died.  She was no longer white, but a grayish color...and her eyes were not hers.  They looked different somehow.  They were sad, painful eyes.  I laid with my mama in that hospital bed for a whole minute before the nurse came in and told my dad that children were not allowed on the floor and that I had to leave.   That was the last time I saw my mama before she died.  My mama deserved to not be in pain anymore.  My mama looked peaceful in that casket.  She no longer had pain.  I had tears, but she had no pain. I think that was a good trade.  My tears for her pain.  My mama no longer hurt.  She no longer cried with pain, she was at peace. 

When we came home, I went straight to my room and took out my mama's robe.  I took off that ugly dress and wrapped myself all up in that robe.  I laid down in my bed, all snuggled up in that sweet pink and white cloth and I cried.  I cried for my mama.  I cried for her pain.  I cried for my pain.  I tried to remember everything I could about her because I was afraid I would forget her because she was all gone now.  I thought and thought and remembered.  I kept remembering until I could no longer think.  Then I slept....

A little over 31 years has passed since that day.  The robe is long since gone.  I can still remember the day you became an angel as though it were yesterday.  I thought I had lost my mama forever, but I have not.  As I have grown into a woman, I have realized that I see my mama in the mirror each day.  I also see my mama when I look at my brothers and sisters.  I see part of my mama in each of my children.  

My mama is the reason I became a nurse.  I can remember my daddy took me to the hospital once to visit when my mama when she was sick.  I remember how she looked, but the most important thing I remembered about that trip was the nurse who barged into the room and said I was not allowed to be there.  She told my dad that I had to leave at once.  I was not allowed to see my mama because I was a child, and children were not allowed to visit patients.  I looked at my mama one last time and vowed in my mind that if I ever became a nurse, I would not be like that.  I would actually care about my patients and their families.

I am a nurse now mama!  I treat all of my patients and their families with care.  If a child wants to lay with their mama in the hospital bed, I grab them a pillow and welcome them.  I treat all of my patients with respect and care.  I have helped many of my patients get better.  I have also comforted some of them, and their families, as they transitioned into angels just like you.  You would be so proud of me mama!   

In five years, I have accomplished many things.

It has been five years since I have last posted.  A lot of things can happen in five years.  I started and finished college!  I graduated with an associate's degree in nursing in 2013.  Then, I worked as a nurse while studying for my bachelor's degree.  I completed that two weeks ago.  I now have my BSN at the age of 40.

The one thing I learned about nursing school is that there was absolutely no time for anything else.  I am not kidding.  Sometimes, there was not enough time to even sleep.  You see, nurses must know everything there is to know about health and disease.  That way, we understand why physicians order tests, labs, and medications.  We also need to know every class of drug, their uses, side effects, and drug interactions because it is our job to assess for these things.  All of this vast information was crammed into two years of studying.  That is a lot of information to absorb, so yeah, there was no time for anything else, even writing.  Unless you count many, many research papers on evidence-based practice.  Which, I will not get into at this moment because I never want to have to do those again.

The thing about college is that it broadened my knowledge.  I had so many different stories I wanted to write before college, but I just did not have enough knowledge of the subjects in order to complete them.  I now have some of that knowledge.  During my bachelor's degree program, I chose electives in writing.  Those were my favorite classes.  I have many short stories I have written in those classes.  I will post a few at a later time.

I am just glad to be back in the writing saddle again!