when the phone rang

Two years ago tonight I had fallen asleep on the couch after a rousing evening of watching Law & Order (yes, I was slightly addicted). I woke up suddenly. The news was on. The phone rang. And I knew, before I answered it, that my mom had passed away. Sure enough it was Dad on the phone, telling me that hospice had called. Mom had waited until Dad and my sister left to get some sleep before slipping away. She was like that, always waiting for the opportune moment. (The exact anniversary confuses me because with 3 hour time difference, I heard she died on 10/21 but she actually passed away on 10/22).

I cannot believe it's been two years. And I cannot believe it's only been two years.

I told my friend CoCo the other day that it was almost 2 years. Her response was, it seems like way longer than that. But then she realized that was because my mom was sick for so long before she passed away. Over two and a half years she had two rounds of cancer treatments with a diabetic coma and leg amputation in between. Toward the end there was just pain, and so it was a relief that she was able to finally just let go.

But I still miss her. Always will. I can't tell you how many times something happens and my first reaction is to call Mom. Luckily I have my brother Michael who I can call .. and it's almost the same. Almost, but not quite. Or how often I see something at the store that she'd like. Or think of a gift I could make her. Or read about the latest foibles of our administration and hear what she'd say in my head.

She was not perfect, no one is. But she was my mom. And she taught me the most important lesson in life … love. I'm of course still learning that one.

One reason I can't believe it's only been two years is that it's only been since she died that I've been a) admitting to myself that I feel called to a religious vocation and b) actively discerning that possibility. I bought a journal two years ago tomorrow and God used that journal to help me process a lot and realize that if I really want to understand love, than I need to stop being afraid of sharing me and doing what I can to transform the world.

As a result, I was never able to tell mom my "nun-news." But she knows. Looking back to our last visit together in the nursing home in September 2003, she knew before I ever knew. Like always, she was just being patient and waiting for me to figure it out myself.


Isn't this a great picture? Thanksgiving 2000 on the Oregon Coast. My mom, my 2 sisters, and 2 of my nieces. (I'm on the right with the pink-socked niece in my lap).

PS - Please keep my family in your prayers this weekend. Remembering is important. Remembering is tough. And I'm still worried about some of them truth be told. Grief takes its sweet old time.


jo(e) said...

Anniversaries like this one sometimes bring back a whole flood of memories and emotions. Be nice to yourself this weekend.

Richard said...

I received this phone call at 5:30 am three years ago. Like you, I knew what was on the other end of the phone before I answered. Even though I knew it was coming it was still a huge shock. Everything you say resonates deeply with me. You're in my prayers.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...


You know Richard, I've heard a number of vocation stories where the death of a parent played a part.

I almost wonder if we're so jaded, if there's so much static on the line, that it takes something this dramatic for us to listen? In my case I think it somehow matured my relationship with God and broke me down enough to my core being that I couldn't ignore it anymore.

andrea said...

I don't think the loss ever goes away. It's been 11 years since my dad died and I still miss him. Hugs, Susan.

Michelle said...

"Grief takes its sweet old time."

Doesn't it just?

You're definitely in my prayers this weekend, and I'm sending you special cyber hugs across the river. :)

Laura T. said...

Hi Susan,
You are most definitely in my prayers this weekend! I found ( to my astonishment) that when my mom died, she became more present to me in ways she could never have been before, and something tangible was released in me when she died Easter 2000...oddly enough, grief can bring life into sharper focus, like the birth of your journal that helped you define your vocation. Prayers of support and gratitude from this end...Laura
PS That's a great picture !

Steph said...

I got goosebumps reading that right before First Vespers tonight & kept you in mind during Evening Prayer.

Peace to you all.

Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Thanks everyone .. for everything but most especially the prayers.

It's been an ok day. My rule has been that I don't have to do anything today I don't want to do. Morning mass, breakfast out, trip to the craft store, short hike in. Chores, going to a birthday party out. I just couldn't deal with either.

Talked to my dad and one of my brothers. Of course none of us mentioned WHY we were checking in today! Phone tag with my other brother. Will check in on my 2 sisters tomorrow.

Now I'm being crafty and waiting for my decoupage to dry! In a weird craft geek kind of way, that makes me happy.