When She Left


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It happened so quickly, I didn’t want to believe the words. Dead. She’s dead. No dramatic goodbyes like in the movies or a chance for a final farewell. In the middle of the night, she began to slip off and by morning there was no chance for her survival. She had overcame so much in the past few months. A stroke had left her paralyzed and immobile in a wheelchair. Hollywood has downplayed paralysis so much in movies that I’m pretty sure unless your loved one has experienced it, you have no clue what it’s like to deal with.

She couldn’t speak. She needed a feeding tube because of the dysphagia that set in. She could no longer control her bowel or bladder. She laid there helpless unable to speak her mind or even tell anyone how much she appreciated their visits to her in ICU. Visitors came and went during her critical 24 hour period. Some told her to stay strong and fight. Others told her it was ok to let go. I told her to stay. Well, I begged her to stay. I needed her in my life and wasn’t ready to lose her. None of us were.

We children were everything to her and she was everything to us. She had so many illnesses while raising us it had left us with an emptiness, a void, an ability to connect to one another. Normal children get to play with their parents, go to parks, and go to activities at school. Fibromyalgia had set in at an early age leaving her unable to attend our playtime activities. We didn’t mind. We loved her indefinitely. I loved her indefinitely. She was so full of life and it was taken away too soon. With therapy, she had worked through her paralysis and was walking with a cane by the time of her demise. She was such a fighter. No one expected what had happened.

As much as I would love for this to be a recollection of her life, this is about what happened when she left. Life may go on for the living after the dead are buried and gone but time is at a standstill in everyone’s mind. It’s not happening. It can’t be happening. Actions aren’t properly thought through with diligence. Words are said. Fights happen. Families separate. My family was once so close and now were like strangers at a dinner party.

Mom came to me in a dream one night and told me exactly what needed to be done. When she left, she never thought we would become the family we are now and now she’s going to fix everything starting with me. Dreams of course are your subconscious trying to tell you something. However, I felt as if these dreams of her did mean something. I really think she was visiting me as a spirit in my dreams. Everyone told me different.

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Chapter 1

It’s been six years since she left me. It happened so fast I couldn’t even grasp what was happening. I sit there and watched everything that was going on. The paramedics came in and my brother stepped away from his CPR. They brought out so many devices to try and bring her back. While two of them worked away trying to bring her back one of them stepped over to me.

“We’re going to load her into the ambulance,” he said looking me in my eyes.

He didn’t pay any attention to my brothers who were standing in the middle of the room with their heads bowed and crying. He recaptured my attention as it drifted off towards them wondering why he was talking to me instead of them. It didn’t dawn on me because it was of my age. Twenty is such a young age to lose a parent in the manner I did. I started to slip away looking over at them working on her.

“Hey, we’re going to load her in the ambulance,” he said restating what he had said to get my attention again. I looked back at his eyes. “We’re going to do everything we can for her on the ride over there. We will not stop, but,” he said trailing off a second making sure I was paying attention to what he was saying. “I don’t want you speeding there or doing anything reckless or stupid. Take your time,” he said staring at me in the eyes so I knew what he was saying.

He made it final for me. I followed the ambulance to the hospital. I wasn’t crying. I was numb. My mom was my world. I gave up everything to stay with her because I knew my days were limited being with her. My SAT scores were stellar and a lot of colleges wanted me to be a part of their alumni. I decided to stay home from the universities and go to local colleges so I can still be with her every day.

It was two weeks until my final day before I graduated with my associate’s degree. My mom pushed me through college because I was the first to attend and make it through to a degree. She had went through therapy and continued her therapy on her own.

“I will walk those bleachers and walk into that gymnasium to see you accept that degree,” she told me smiling at me. "You don’t know how proud I am of you. What are you going to do afterwards?” she asked me sitting on a chair in the living room.

“Well, I been thinking of transferring to a bigger university so I can further my degree. I can get an apartment off campus and split everything with Heath,” I said looking up over at her from the book I was reading.

Heath was my best friend. We had tried the dating thing but we were made to be friends instead. Mom always told me that she thought he secretly loved me and didn’t want to lose that feeling in a relationship. I wished she were right.

“Well, I guess my deal with God is finalized,” she said walking around the room with her cane exercising her legs more. “My last baby is all grown up.”

Not many people knew what she meant by that unless you were family. Mom had a hard life toward the end of her days. She was in her forties when she had her first round with her heart. I was in elementary school. I was five. I was so scared. There were years between me and my older brothers and sister. They were in their 20’s and she was close to it. I would’ve been so lost if she had left me then. She asked God to keep her alive long enough to raise her last kid. She came home a few days later on medications. Apparently, he was listening.  A lot of things would be different now if she would have died then. Actually, a lot of things are still different now.

When I got to the hospital, I found my sister, Kandi, waiting there for us. She lived in another county so instead of going to the house where she knew they would be transporting mom to the hospital, she came to the hospital hoping to talk to her. She met me at the door and we threw our arms around each other.

“It’s going to be okay,” she whispered into my ear. I wanted to believe her nut a part of me knew better because of the paramedic’s words to me.

A doctor walked up to us and asked, “Are you all here for Mrs. Deborah Thompson?”

We nodded. We glanced at each other with the tears welling in our eyes waiting for the line that came next.

“Come with me,” he said walking us to a small chapel. “If you wait in here, someone will come by to speak with you.” He motioned us inside.

The numbness that had overtaken my body was melting and I could feel the realness of the situation. I sit down with my sister and the rest of our family walked in. They all hugged us offering comfort. My one brother didn’t come. He accepted what had happened. She had died in his arms. He felt the life leave her body.

A woman walked in. She was dressed in professional clothes. She must’ve been a social worker. She looked at everyone gathered in there her eyes resting on each of our briefly. Hers stopped at me and she faltered with his words. She looked away to someone who was less likely to break down.

“I’m sorry,” she said with her voice shaking slightly “We did everything we could to save her.”

I lost it. Everything I had held back from that morning until that moment came gushing out. One of my family members wrapped me in their arms trying to comfort me but there is no comfort for a broken heart. It wasn’t fair. She went too soon. I hadn’t even started living life. I always said I’d never have kids but there was still a chance I would.  She would never meet them if I did. Her mom died similarly. I never met her mom. I was the only one who didn’t.

“We have her in a room if you want to go and see her one last time before we ship her to the mortuary,” she said waiting for any of us to stand up and walk with her. We were all in a state of disbelief. “Just follow me,” she said finalizing her words.

We all followed her through the emergency room halls. She came to a more secluded hallway and the curtain was drawn in the room. My heart felt like it was going to just collapse in my chest and quit working. We stepped through the door and everyone gathered around the bed she was on. I stood towards the foot of the bed staring at her. I couldn’t move. My body was slowly going into shock. Everyone in the room disappeared around me. I was in a tunnel looking at her laying there. I wanted to go to her bedside but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.

After several minutes, I walked over to her bedside and slunk to my knees beside her. No words could escape my mouth even though I wanted to yell and scream. I wanted to beat something. I wanted to break a bone something to take the pain away that I was feeling inside. Everyone was afraid of me having a nervous breakdown. As soon as I knelt beside her bed they were pulling me away to leave. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay with her. I didn’t want to leave her laying there. If I stayed, she was still here with me. If I left, it made it even more real than what it felt.

I couldn’t hear anyone talking around me in that room. At least I thought that. I registered everything afterwards, later on that day. We all walked outside of the hospital. The family exchanged hugs telling us the same worn out line everyone hears. “Sorry for your loss. We all loved her.” In actuality, they didn’t give a rat’s ass about her. This was my dad’s side of the family. We didn’t associate much with them because our mother told us we were better than them.

Even though I drove there, I rode back to my house with my sister. I guess everyone thought I couldn’t drive myself home. I don’t know if they would’ve been right or not. Dad didn’t come to the hospital neither. He knew when they took her out of the house she was gone.

We didn’t necessarily get along as well as children should with their parents. Before mom had her stroke, I was moving out after a fight with my dad. It was kind of a make or break situation in our relationship. But, I loved him more that day.

Kandi and I walked into the living room and looked over where mom slept in her hospital bed. There was a stain on the floor where she had vomited during her last hours. Most nurses trained would have known it was one of h=the final stages of life. After taking classes to become a nurse I later learned that. I wish every day I would’ve called 911 sooner. Everyone says she was too far gone with the septicemia she had from an unknown infection. There’s still the possibility she could’ve been saved. You have no idea what it feels like to live every day after that thinking you were the reason she died. I did.

I gathered a few things to spend a couple days with Kandi. I couldn’t stay in the house. It haunted me. We walked over to my one brother’s house, Cary. He was the one that didn’t come to the hospital. His youngest daughter, Miranda, was there. Her bus hadn’t ran when mom died so he told her to stay home from school. She ran up to my sister and me and hugged us.

“Is mawmaw okay,” she asked peering up at us.

I closed my eyes fighting off tears and looked over to Kandi who was trying the same. We glanced at each other and looked over to Cary who was putting together a shelf trying to get his mind off the situation. He acted as if he heard nothing from his daughter. We looked back to Miranda.

It was Kandi that spoke, “No, sweetie, mawmaw didn’t make it,” she said struggling to hold back the tears that welled and brimmed out against her will.

It’s hard trying to stay strong for everyone else when you’re dying inside yourself from the pain and grief that surround your heart. Miranda hugged us tighter and cried. Cary started crying.

“You ready to go,” I asked Kandi trying to shake off everything. She looked at me shaking her head yes. We walked back out of the house and made our way to the car in silence. We didn’t really talk much on the way to her house. The silence was our solitude. If we didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t real.

The hard part came next. My sister’s kids were at home waiting for her to come back and let them know what had happened with their mawmaw. These kids were young. Her oldest son was turning 8 in a couple of days. The middle child was her daughter she was 6 turning seven in a couple of months. Her youngest son was four.

We walked in the house and her kids were in the den watching TV. When they saw us walk through the door and into the house, they jumped up and ran to us.

“Mom, is mawmaw okay?” the oldest asked with the other two on his heels waiting for an answer.

“Come sit down with me,” Kandi said walking over to the couch. I sat down on an opposite side while they all gathered around her on the one end.

“My babies,” she said looking each of them in the eyes. She raised her head trying to push the tears back where they were streaming from. “Mawmaw died this morning. You all know how sick she was,” she said choking on each word.

The words sunk into the young children like bullets. They all broke down crying. They understood even at their ages what death meant. I hugged each one that walked over to me and held them tight like they were my kids and I could take away their grief and pain.

The day went by in a blur. It went from day to night so fast. I called a few of my friends and told them what had happened. They cried with me. 

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Chapter 2

The next few days flew by. I remember going to plan her funeral with Kandi. I can’t even remember who all was in the room with us. I don’t remember if my brothers or father was there or not. I clung to my sister those few days.

We weren’t the closest of sisters because of our age and how far she lived away. What I do know is this brought us closer together than anything else could have. For four gruesome days, we kids were the closest we had ever been.

Her wake came so fast. It was being finalized so fast that she was gone. My best friend from elementary school through high school came to the viewing. She cried beside me as we stood there looking at my mother in her casket of white and gold. She wanted to stay longer but her mother had to tear her away from me to leave. She didn’t want to be there when our family started to roll in. It wasn’t that she didn’t know them or like them. She knew it was a private moment we needed to share with our family.

We each chose jewelry to put on my mother to be buried with. Every grandkid put something in there with her along with each of us kids. We chose a song that would loop fine throughout the wake. To this day, “Bittersweet Symphony,” plagues me when I hear it.

After it had calmed down and most of the people had left, I set on the couch across from mom’s casket writing her a letter. I’m she sat beside me reading every word and crying on my shoulder. I honestly can’t remember what I wrote but the bare facts were I didn’t know how to go through life without her now. I sealed it in an envelope and wrote “To Mom,” on the front of it.

What I had been holding back for three days broke through the flood gates. I broke down at her side. I clung to her side begging her to come back. Everyone around me at that moment started crying as if it was finalizing for them too. My oldest brother, Jay, pulled me away from the casket and threw his arms around me. I was uncontrollably crying. I couldn’t stop. A piece of my heart was blowing away in the wind and was to be buried the next day.

The viewing was at his house so I stayed there that night. Everyone was offering me valium or Xanax to take afraid I was going to have a bad break down. I declined. I knew I needed to feel everything I was feeling. I couldn’t live in a fairytale thinking she would miraculously come back or it wasn’t really happening.

The following day was the day all of us had to really prepare for. I had gotten the pastor from a church I had attended in high school to officiate her funeral. He had met my mom once. She wasn’t a church goer but she was a devout Jesus follower. She loved all things God, Jesus, and angels. He had prayed for her health in our house on a surprise visit one Sunday when I didn’t show up to church.

We all sat in the funeral home with family gathering around us. There were more people there than I had thought would come. I sat with Kandi and her husband. She had left her kids with her mother in law. She didn’t want them to have to experience something this tragic at such a young age.

Everyone made their way to the casket for their final goodbyes to mom before the funeral began. Jay was up there first out of the kids. He looked in at the casket with his head bowed and walked back and sit down not showing his face to anyone. My second brother, Cary was next. He stroked her hair talking to her in a low voice. I don’t know what he said but I know it had to be how much he loved her. He sat down with his wife with tears coming down. Kandi and I went up together.

We looked down at the casket and I fought the breakdown once again. We were both crying letting the tears flow like they should. I felt a hand on my shoulder and looked up to see Jay and Cary followed. We all stood together looking down at her casket crying. We had seen our aunt walking around taking pictures so we would all know what had happened in our numb state. She snapped a picture of all four of us standing there with mom. It was the first picture since I had been born that we were all together in. A bittersweet moment so to speak.

The funeral procession followed this moment. The pastor did a really good job and we walked to our cars. I rode with Kandi to the memorial plot we chose. We all sat in chairs in front of the casket at the grounds while the pastor went through his final words of the procession. We all walked to the casket and stood one final time. They had to drag me away. Cary on one side and Jay on the other walked me back to my sister’s vehicle while I broke down again. I had begun twitching from the anxiety of the day.

I was still in a haze when we got back to Jay’s house. Everyone was laughing and talking trying to lighten the mood. I sat and just snacked on the platters laid out on the table. It wasn’t until all the people had cleared out and left me with my brothers and sister. It was the warmest I had felt in years surrounded by them. Even though it brought us together for one last moment as a family, it was also what tore us apart. It was the last time we were together and happy. Every moment from there on was a forced moment of smiles. We were never close to begin with so we drifted away easier than ever.

I lived with Jay for a few months and the strain got in between us during personal matters. I felt like I belonged nowhere. I had lived with Cary prior to mom’s death and it didn’t work out. I phoned my sister one night asking if I could live with her.

“I love you, sissy, but I don’t think it’s a great idea. Every person who was close to me that moved in with me we ended up fighting and our friendships ruined,” she said to me at three in the morning. I was crushed. I was being forced to move back in with my dad. It’s not that I didn’t want to live with him. I was over our fight months before. It was the fact she had died in the house. Of course he wanted me to live with him. He had been asking me to move back the entire time I lived with Jay. Jay explained why I couldn’t and he understood but it still hurt.

Even though I moved back in with him, I still spent nights down at Cary’s house with his daughters. He had four and the oldest two were right around my age. I went through a couple of guys during these few months. Of course they all weren’t meant for me. One later turned out to be a baby murderer and I was relieved I hadn’t stayed with him. These failed boyfriends, however, led me to the love of my life and to where I am today. When I moved in with him and out of my dad’s house, my life changed forever. My dad was sad that I moved out as fast as I had moved in, but it was a life change that I needed. I fell in love that summer. A strong love. The university I was going to transfer to screwed up my enrollment so in the end I wasn’t attending the university the following fall. So, my life without my mom began heartache and love all rolled into one.

A lot of events happened after that summer. I got pregnant and lost the baby. I was terrified of losing my new love. But, he stayed with me and stayed by myself. I could never understand why he loved me or if he actually did. I was devastated when I lost that baby. It was another part of me that was blowing away in the wind. Another part of me that died. Another part of me that was put in the ground and would never exist in my lifetime.

It was my first baby. My chance to feel what my mother felt with us kids. It was if I weren’t meant to have that feeling as if it were a punishment for my inability to save my mom. It was exactly a month before her one year anniversary of her death. It shaped a lot of my thoughts from there on. Your first baby is supposed to be your pride and joy. I had held it in my hands waiting for Kandi to arrive to take me to the emergency room. It was another moment in my life where I slipped off into the abyss. Even though time moved freely, it felt like it stopped with me.

I had been in the hospital with a bad infection for a week prior to the miscarriage. I don’t know if it was the medications or if it was the infection made me miscarry. Either way I was shattered from the whole year. Things got a little better afterwards. I became pregnant again with a little girl. She was the light I was missing in my darkness. Even though it didn’t seem to others I was in the dark, I walked the abyss searching for myself. She was what pulled me out of the dark veil that clouded my mind. My world revolved around her keeping her safe and healthy. I would go to hell and back to ensure it.

My life started all over again when I had her. She grew up healthy and lively. Two years later I was popping out baby two, a healthy bouncing baby boy. Even with the two children, I still felt a hole where my heart used to be. When mom died, I gave up everything I had joy in. One of my joys was my writing and spiritualism. I soon got back in contact with my so to say guru and began writing and actively partaking in my spiritualism again. That’s when the dreams began.

It started off briefly, mere glimpses of her in my dreams. I didn’t have a chance to talk to her. I was aware in my dreams that she was dead, but just seeing her face lit my life up. The brief moments soon began to turn into conversations. My deep spiritualism told me that there was a reason she was coming to me. It was a gift for your departed loved ones to visit you in your dreams. So, I started paying closer attention to her appearances in my dreams.

Sometimes when she appeared, it wasn’t even a dream I was supposed to have. There’s a certain gift called dream walking where you can go into other people’s dreams. I have this gift. I remember one night not too long ago, I had a memory dream. I’ve done deep contemplation on the meaning behind this dream. Not only was my mother in it, but my mother’s mother who I never met in this life. She died three years before I was born. I described her voice to my sister and she said it sounded exactly like how she remembered her voice as a child. After telling my sister what was in the dream at three in the morning, we deducted that my dream was her memory. I was a small child, which it’s not unusual for me to change people in my dreams, and playing with a jewelry box with pearls. When I told her this, she said, “That’s my memory!”

I explained in detail what everything in the house looked like and without a doubt, she said it was her memory. I don’t know why or how it’s even possible to have dreams of someone else’s memory, but I experienced it. I have paid even closer attention to my dreams since then. There have been a few occasions where my dreams align with my sister’s dreams. We haven’t really been able to pinpoint the meaning behind the similarity of our dreams but we have taken a deep spiritual note on them.

Whenever our mother is in our dream, there is a hidden message. Sometimes the message is out in the open, but other times it is much deeper and takes a lot of meditation to figure out the meaning of her message. The largest message she could give us is a simple one. She keeps returning to us because we are the only ones who are open to her in a spiritual sense. The message is she wants our family to tape up the torn pieces between us and become a family once more. It is the most difficult request she could ask as well.

This family fell apart six years ago when she died. We don’t have family functions anymore. We don’t even see each other anymore, aside from my sister and me. Most would say I’m nuts thinking my mom is visiting me in my dreams. They try to say it’s just my subconscious trying to comfort me. I have had too many dreams with messages for me to believe it’s just my subconscious. They have helped me along these past few years so much.

My mother’s largest message to me personally was to quit blaming myself for her dying. I keep thinking if I had called 911 sooner, she would still be with us. I was so tired from lack of sleep that I checked on her throughout the night but didn’t pay any mind to how she was acting. It ate away at me like a disease and still to this day they “what ifs” plague my mind and heart. But, it is what it is. If she were supposed to have survived this time, she would have. My mother made a deal with God. If he let her live long enough to raise all of her kids, he could take her with no fight. Two days after I told my mother my plans for going to a larger university and continuing my college education into a bachelor degree, she died.

“I did what I asked to live to do. I raised my last baby. You’re all grown up now. God can take whenever he chooses to now,” she said as we sat in the living room at Cary’s house.

It made me tear up but I didn’t think nothing more of it…until the day she died. I truly believed if I hadn’t told her that, she wouldn’t have let God take her. My mother visits me so I will know she doesn’t blame me for anything and I shouldn’t blame myself. Her visits have helped me grow in mind and spirit and I’m so glad she opened the door from heaven to visit as much as she has. I try to do what she asks me to in my dreams. I have succeeded with a lot of them, but I cannot return this family back to the way we used to be. A train cannot run on a torn track. You can never go back to the way things used to be.

Cary has two new kids the same age as mine that I haven’t even been able to hold. The only sibling that has been in my kids’ life has been Kandi, and she has been the best aunt they could ever ask for. That’s how broken the family is.

I can’t really think of what I need to talk to my mother about when she visits me in my dreams. I need clarity on how I can get the family to act like a family once again. My dreams have been hard to remember lately and I wonder if the answer to my question is just locked away in my subconscious. I don’t know if I’m supposed to try now or in a few more years. I fear the longer I wait the harder it will be. We’re practically strangers with our age difference as it is. Jay is 42, Cary is 41, Kandi is 33, and I’m 27.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if it is just my subconscious but I hold onto the belief that my mother wants to still be with us in this lifetime. This is one way for her. Her death is what opened my mind up to gifts to receive communications and coded messages from the dearly departed. It may be while I’m asleep, but it helps. It opened up my clairvoyance.

A few months back there was a girl go missing in my state. The night before she disappeared, I dreamt of her. She was asking me to find her father, John. She rambled off the address, although it was hazy and I couldn’t remember it when I awoke. The one thing I remembered was her face. I saw it three days later all over the news. The location she was at in my dream was six blocks from where she was last seen. I knew her disappearance was linked to another that had happened a few years beforehand. I called in my tip and of course they thought I was crazy. I felt crazy. She was found a little more than a month later in the same place the other young girl was found.

I don’t know why I was given the message to help her if I couldn’t help her in the end, but I tried. My mother’s death opened up this gateway in my dreams. I do believe there is some sort of secret to dreams and what they mean. I do believe you can have premonitions in your dreams. Who knows, maybe one day you will fall asleep and wake up as a baby and your whole life was just a dream to show you the choices you chose and what you can do different.

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