The impetus for writing Exit: The Life and Death Planner came from Laura’s experience with death in her family. Laura’s mom, dad and grandmother died within 16 months of each other and this was a huge upheaval in her life. June 2 was the 12th anniversary of Laura’s mom’s death.
Although the Exit planner deals with the important, practical aspects of putting one’s affairs in order, we also want to acknowledge the emotional roller coaster that comes with illness and death. Even years after the passing of a parent, grandparent, friend, sibling, we still miss them and feel the ache of their absence.
This week, Glenda flew home to Toronto when she received news that her mother has advanced cancer. Ironically, although her parents have had a copy of Exit: The Life and Death Planner for two years, it took this event to get them to start filling out the forms which they now are grateful to have. Meanwhile, Laura went through part of her journal about her mom’s illness and death. In the spirit of sharing, Laura offers these excerpts.
Part of Laura’s Journal On Her Mom
Finding out my Mom had cancer and a short time to live ….(October 2002)
I cried the entire morning, knowing Mom was going to leave me very soon. How will I survive without my best friend, my soul mate, my guidance, the person who made me – me? I feel a large part of me is being striped away and I’ll be left only half of who I am now, or ever will be again.
4 months later …..
I make my twice weekly trips out to Mom and Dad’s. This is my time with them to check out extended care, go to the doctor’s appointments, make meals and do some household chores, check out funeral homes, but mostly just be here to have great talks and support both Mom and Dad. But these visits are very emotionally draining also as I cherish them now as I know time is so short. I feel so cheated that all the questions I’ll have will go unanswered soon, and yet Mom is too sick for me to ask them now or the questions are too deep to even think to ask at this time. This is where some of my feelings of “loneliness” come … who will I ever be able to talk to again that knows me so well, who never judges me, who listens and guides me and is always there for me?
Another trip to Mom and Dad’s and I’m so tired, but how can I be so selfish – or is it that I’m just in survival mode right now? I love these trips – the 3 of us together, but I also hate these trips as then the reality is that there is so much pain – pain in Mom’s body, pain in Dad and my heart, pain of loosing someone, pain of being so helpless, pain of how to go on?
Mom is getting very weak now, she’s almost stopped eating, in lots of pain, laboured breathing, and her mind is getting confused. As I watch Mom sleep, the tears run down my cheeks – it’s so hard to live through this precious time. I would do this trip to visit my parents forever to keep her here with us – but not to suffer.
Oh Mom – where did you go? I feel so lonely and miss you so badly and I can’t find you or myself. You passed away on June 2nd, at 2:00am with Dad and I in your arms. In your last breath you died with this incredible smile on your face and you looked so peaceful and beautiful.
These last few months have been extremely hard on me – traveling on my “journey” with great sadness and loneliness. Who am I now? I feel so lost some days – I still want to be a child who has her Mom – I still want you back so bad. So much of my life was/is so entwined with you, Mom, that I’m reminded constantly of you and it hurts. But I’m finally smiling with my eyes and heart again – someone told me “your Mom has come back to you” and that’s how it felt – in a different way of course. I guess I got used to the idea that you’d never come back physically but I can now feel your “soul” back with me – and it makes me smile.
June 2, 2015 — Twelve Years Later
It is 12 years today that my Mom passed away and I’m still smiling when I think of her. I actually lost my Dad a year later to cancer, so I became parentless in my early 40’s – with lots of fond memories and love for them both. They left me their gift of being so organized in their deaths, to make it easier for me. That is why writing Exit was a gift from my heart in honouring them, and sharing this knowledge with all of you.