It's been one year since my mother in law died. I've been dreading it, and it's here. I'm honestly not sure if Dan is aware. He knows it's around the time, I'm sure, but I haven't told him. I don't think it would be helpful. I still think about her all the time, daily, sometimes several times a day. Maybe this is because I didn't really get to grieve myself between taking care of 3 babies and making sure Dan didn't fall COMPLETELY off the deep end last fall/winter.
I can still see her falling, still see her standing in the door of Sophie's room the last time I talked to her (still KICKING myself for assuming she was high from pain meds), giving no thought to the fact that she was suffering from the fall.
It's funny that I have no recollection of the weather in those days surrounding her death. In most other significant times of my life, I can still remember the weather, at least the season. I don't remember her death being in the fall. I don't remember it being chilly. I DO remember Dan getting that phone call, seeing the look on his face as he told me he had to ID her body. I remember trying desperately to get in touch with my mom or sister (who were together). It was like I was on speed, just rotating between calling each of them until one finally answered. I remember saying "Bonnie is dead. I need you hear now." I remember in those first weeks after she died being up in the middle of the night for the twins every 3 hour feedings, and looking into the kitchen from their room, swearing that I saw her walking from the family room into the kitchen.
I don't blame myself, or our house, for her falling. I vividly remember scanning the ground where she fell, looking for a stray shoe or crayon she might have tripped over. There was nothing. She just fell. And hit her head. I DO blame myself for not making her go to the ER. Sure, Dan drove her home that night, but clearly that wasn't enough. Yes, she seemed fine the next day, but what was going on inside her brain was certainly not fine.
I understand what several have told me, that once she fell a clock started ticking. I don't like it, but I understand how it might be possible. This means of course, there was nothing we could do. That's where it gets blurry for me. I can't understand how, if we had gotten her to the hospital that they couldn't have done SOMETHING for her. Drilled a hole to relieve pressure, or something. At the very least, and this is what I can't get past and where my guilt comes in (and refuses to leave) is that even if there truly was nothing to be done to save her, as least we could have said good-bye. At least we would have had that opportunity. Maybe that's selfish of me. It just occured to me for the first time since last October that it could have been worse for HER to know she was going to die, just waiting for it to happen.
I will never forget the sound of Sophie's little 22 month old toddler voice following her nana down the hallway and out the door, as she left our house for the last time. Over and over, nana, nana, nana...at least 20 times. I remember Dan and I looking at each other saying "listen to her. It's like she's never going to see her again." Out of the mouth of babes.
Sophie rarely brings her up. Interestingly, she did mention her last night, which was the first time in weeks, maybe months. She saw a baseball player doll on TV and she said "nana got that for me." I looked at the TV not really knowing what she was talking about, and realized that yes, less than a week before she died she bought Sophie a stuffed Al.bert Puj.ols doll. I remember that at the time, Sophie was less than thrilled with the doll, and my mother in law was less than thrilled with that reception to her gift, lol.
Dan still has good days and bad days, although mostly good. The things that he might bring up are good memories, not just sadness/pain. It's still hard to talk about her though. We're just getting to that point. I have a few pictures I want to put out, but I'm not sure if he's there yet. And honestly, I'm worried about what those pictures may bring out in Sophie, memories, questions, etc. Not sure if I'm ready to deal with that yet. I feel good that he and his mom were in a good place before she died. God knows there were some rough years, both before and after I came into the picture. Dan has thanked me often for encouraging their relationship. I never really thought much about it until after she died. They had a really bad, nasty, nasty argument less than a week before she died. It was both of their faults, but thankfully they made peace with each other.
I think about her everytime I sing Wheels on the Bus or the Itsy Bitsy Spider to Sophie. Those were her songs to sing to Sophie. In a note I wrote to her after she died, I promised that I would keep reading and singing to Sophie. I still think about her on Sunday nights, knowing how much she loved her news shows. I think about her EVERY single time I sit in the rocking chair in the twins room. A few weeks before she died, she insisted that I needed a rocking chair in their room. The rocking chair that Sophie had had in her nursery was moved to the family room in our new house ( the same chair that she had been sitting in right before she fell). She had the rocking chair from her house moved over to ours. She told me it was mine, I could paint it, whatever I wanted to do to it, but that I NEEDED a rocking chair in a nursery. This was the same chair that she rocked Dan and his brother in as babies. So needless to say, in the dead of the night, when I am trying to calm Connor, I often think of her rocking her own babies. I look at Avery and Connor from time to time and say "oh, your nana would have loved you." And then I realize that she had been able to meet them; but those days all seem to melt together in my mind.
I'd say we had a better than average relationship with each other. I feel strongly that her intentions always came from a good place, although at times I just really wanted to tell her what I thought;) For example, the night I walked in her front door that last summer and she dragged me into the bathroom to show me how to properly apply eye make-up. Um, ok. It's nice to think of those things now and smile.
I really felt like she was making some serious changes last fall to improve herself. She was more quiet. Not reserved (never!), but she seemed to really think before she spoke, tried to word things in ways that wouldn't be offensive to others. Not to say that she succeeded, lol, but she was trying:) I will never forget the day we brought the twins home from the NICU. She came over, it was her first time seeing them since she didn't believe in making hospital visits, which I never understood. I was washing bottles in the kitchen, looking like death warmed over I'm sure, she hugged me and then said she wanted to make it a practice to start hugging those she loved, to make sure they knew that she cared about them.
I could go on and on, but I've been crying through most of this and really need to get myself together. I feel like, if she were here, she'd tell me to get over myself, lol.