It's a very slow process - two steps forward, one step back - but I'm inching in the right direction. - Rob Reiner

September 09, 2014

When Life Changes Overnight

Many of you know my Dad was critically sick a few months ago and spent a few weeks in the ICU.  What I didn’t mention as much is that my Mom was also sick.  She had a longer term illness that we thought was in a more “stable” condition.  But last Wednesday night I got a call they were sending her to the hospital with a fever.  No big deal I thought.  It was.  She was immediately admitted to ICU with a high heart rate, and extremely low blood pressure – classic symptoms of sepsis (basically an infection in the blood stream).  This is actually exactly what put my Dad in ICU, but my Dad came through.  My Mom did not.  We lost her within 24 hours.  I got the call that she had passed away about 6pm last Thursday.

Margaret Conley Sept 1, 1948 - Aug 28, 2014
I was in shock.  I shed a few tears, but felt numb.  I felt bad because I felt like I should have been “sadder”.  I realize now it was just shock.  I’d been through so much with my parents over the last couple of years health wise, and we’d had a lot of scares, but things always managed to turn around.  Not this time.  I went home and began packing to head to the lovely mountain town of Ruidoso, NM. 

My sisters and I arrived on Friday and started talking about arrangements.  My parents are both from KY and want to be buried there.  We were planning to make the trip to KY but soon realized my Dad could just simply not make the trip.  It is about a 21 hour trip by car for a healthy person.  It would have taken us 3-4 days to get there and there were so many other complications.  In the end we decided on a small funeral service in New Mexico.  My Mom will then be transported to KY for burial.

My Dad with his sister and my two cousins and sisters and niece
At first I felt guilty about giving my Mom such a small funeral service.  She deserved more.  But in the end, the most important people in her life were there and that’s all she would have wanted.  Her brothers came in from KY.  My Aunt (my Dad’s sister) came in from Florida.  My two cousins also came from KY.  My niece hitched a ride with my cousins from St Louis.  It was great to be surrounded by family.  I know if we’d had it in KY we would have had more time with them, but unfortunately they were in and out in a day or two, but it was great to see them.  My other cousin Ben – one of my Mom’s brother’s sons did the service for her and it was beautiful. 
Me and my sisters and niece and my Mom's brothers
 
And now my sisters and I are still trying to figure out the best solution for my Dad.  He needs care and can’t stay in New Mexico by himself, which is what he wants to do.  We are working on moving him to Kansas City which has its own challenges.  He is terminally ill and on Hospice, so we probably won’t have him with us much longer, especially now that my Mom has gone.
 I know several of you are friends with me on Facebook and have given me words of encouragement and love.  I appreciate it more than you know.  As you can imagine this is an extremely difficult time for my family.  If you’ve ever lost a parent then you know a lot of what I’m going through.  It’s harder than I even thought it would be.  I think back now to times when friends have lost a parent and think I wasn’t compassionate enough or didn’t do enough. I don’t think you can ever really understand these things until you go through them yourself.
But I want to end on a high note.  My Mom was by far the most positive person I knew.  Even though she had been sick for almost 2 years and never really felt great she never, ever complained.  You usually didn’t know how bad she was or felt.  She was always looking forward to the next day.  Always knew the next day would be better.  So I know that things are tough now, but will be better.  These are just the things in life we all have to go through at some point.  I’m just going through them a little sooner than I would have expected.  But my Mom’s strength is inside me and I will get through this.

In remembrance of Margaret Ann Conley – Wife, Mother, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, Friend, Light in the world.  I love you Mom.

Picture of my Mom taken last Christmas


30 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry about your mom :( Huge hugs to you. It sounds like she was a great person and her service was really nice. That is fantastic that so many family members could make the trip.

    My husband lost his mom unexpectedly, and the shock is so hard to deal with. I am happy to hear you have supportive people helping you through this! :)

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  2. It is such a difficult time and there is nothing anyone can really do. All I can do is say I am thinking of you and Jim and your family. You are in our prayers and thoughts. Every day will be brighter and you will always have the loving memories of her. Take care and be strong.

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    1. Thank you so much Johann. You have offered so many kind words through this. I really appreciate it.

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  3. I am sorry for your loss. I will be praying for your family and the decisions that you will have to make soon.

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  4. Beautiful tribute to your mother. I am sorry for your loss. I understand having a sick parent (now two). I don't think we can ever know until we go through it ourselves and then we have the wisdom to help others. The circle of life perhaps. Best wishes in this time of turmoil.

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    1. Thank you. It has definitely been a difficult time.

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  5. My heart breaks for you. There are no words that will help, but know that I'm thinking of you and your family. I think the biggest compliment to you mom is what a wonderful daughter she raised.

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    1. Thank you. My Mom would definitely say that she was so proud of all of us.

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  6. I lost my Dad suddenly almost 4 years ago. I don't think I cried for 6 months. Shock can protect us in these times - if we felt it all at once it would be so difficult to handle. Prayers for you and your family. You will always miss her but you will also be filled with gratitude for having such a wonderful mother.

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    1. I'm sorry about your loss too. I have a girlfriend who lost her Mom last year and she told me she was good for 3 months and then she couldn't stop crying. I know grief is different for all of us.

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  7. Aw, Michael, I am so very sorry. What a difficult time for you and your family. Keeping you in my prayers.

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  8. I was so sorry to hear on Facebook about your mom's passing. I lost my dad when I was 20, and truly the biggest consolation was seeing how many people cared. I know you've got a wonderful real-life support system, and you have a strong virtual one, too. I've been thinking of you all and will continue to keep your family in my prayers.

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    1. Thank you Kate. I keep thinking I'm too young to be going through this. 20 was really young.

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  9. I'll be keeping your family in my thoughts. So sorry for your loss.

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  10. It's so hard to lose parents no matter when. Sorry for your loss.

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  11. My dad went to run some errands last summer and never came home. He had stopped by a friend's to see how her grandkids were enjoying the swing set that he gave them and had a massive heart attack. He had all the warning signs and did nothing about them. I am still angry but I have started to enjoy doing the things that I always liked to do with him--like attend car shows and festivals. He was a collector so his legacy is big, bold and in front of you in the form of cars he has collected and built over the past 20 years. I told my mom that at least I could shrink wrap her quilts and stick them in a closet until I could figure out what to do about them!

    I am an only, so that simplifies and complicates everything.

    My thoughts are with you now and as you work out what to do with your dad.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear what you've been through as well. It is never easy to deal with the loss of a parent no matter what the circumstances, but the suddeness often just leaves us in shock. I had a friend lose a father in similiar circumstances to you and she's really had a hard time coming to terms with it. Life challenges us for sure, but luckily our support systems help us through.

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  12. I'm so sorry Michael. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been and still is for you. The service sound like it was lovely and intimate. I know there are still hard days and hard decisions ahead and I'll be thinking of you.

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    1. Thank you. The funeral service really was nice and probably exactly what my Mom would have preferred.

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  13. Sorry about your mom. Sending prayers of peace to you and your family.

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  14. I'm so sorry. Sadly, I know from experience that losing a parent sucks, even more so when it is sudden. I'll be thinking of you.

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  15. Michael, I am so sorry for your loss. My thought and prayers are with you and your familt.

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  16. I'm sending you lots of good thoughts as you go through this, Michael. Your mom sounds like a wonderful, positive person. Lots of prayers for your dad, too.

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  17. So very hard to lose a parent. Big hugs and prayers to you and your family. Beautiful post to your mom.

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