From Whence I Came

I took her Cadillac the day we spread her ashes.
It was a long drive from San Diego to Bodega Bay, but it gave me time to think, which I did, sometimes reluctantly.
And as freeways gave way to greened two-lane roads, I lulled myself into thinking everything would be OK.
Of course, it never could be, not the way I wanted it. For that, I’d have to take back everything I’d said in anger, how I made her cry, how I scribbled “I hate you!” again and again in my childhood diary.


We gathered on the boat, mostly silent, an occasional joke to sweat the mourning. I’d written a note on paper and attached it to her picture, the one I liked best, with her mouth wide open in laughter, no trace of regret in her eyes. I threw the whole thing in the water, watched the ashes spread in the wind, and joined the others to huddle against the cold.


We all were there that night. We’d been warned about the ending, and so lay on the bedroom floor to absorb the last moments. Dad slept next to her, and we knew it was for the last time.


None of us slept. Her breathing rattled and croaked and stopped and started. To pair that noise with the person you loved couldn’t be done, so we didn’t, and lay without talking.


My dad got up first. Just a drop of morphine to calm the breath that rose fitful and gutterul in her chest. I believe she needed me to be there then. And so I was, I think alone. I told her it would be all right and to go and it would be all right and to go and I soothed her with words and my hands and said to go and it would be all right.


4 in the morning and then that was all. There was no more, I still don’t understand how. Too late, I slipped in next to her and told her I was sorry. I didn’t mean it. Don’t go, don’t go.


The hospice worker arrived and I held her as she cried.


8 Responses to “From Whence I Came”

  1. Carol says:

    Wow. Memories flowed when I read that. I tried to stay with you… really I did.

    But your words brought me back here, to my own mother’s death:


  2. Mommy Zabs says:

    Memories flooded for me too. It was 6:12 am on Feb. 24, 1994. We could hear her from our bedrooms. I woke up at 6 almost knowing. every breath she took I counted in between, 1..2..3..4..5.. Until her last, the counting went to long. I heard my dad and brother weeping and I ran to their side. It didn’t seem possible. thank you for sharing, that was thereputic… not everyone understands, and hopefully don’t ever have to.

  3. mommypie says:

    Wow. Thank you so much for that beautiful post. I absolutely dread the day I lose my parents. My daughter’s father passed away in ’06 when she was just two – the grieving process continues, but each day gets a little better, as I hope it does for you.

  4. […] Sandiego Momma writes a post that really struck me because the scene she described was so familiar. She wrote about her mom’s last moments on earth and being that tomorrow it has been 14 years since my mother passed away it hit a chord. This post is called From Whence I Came. […]

  5. McKenna says:

    You are a great writer, and I love your transparency in this post! I haven’t lost anyone close to me, so I can’t know or understand this loss yet, but you made me really feel like I can imagine this kind of loss a little better from this post.

    McKenna~The Mom Crowd

  6. […] written before of her dying, but no matter how much I relive it, the memory is a hand that grabs. It’s been more than 10 […]

  7. […] often pray that my mom will appear to me. I don’t know why she hasn’t yet. It makes me sad because I’d […]

  8. […] We chatted for about 20 minutes and she seemed maybe fun. Also possibly normal. Or not, which is even better. She knew who Jon Hamm was. I smiled at my Mom God up there in heaven. […]

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