Earlier this summer, I turned on the “On this day” feature on Facebook. If you’re not familiar with it, it shows you your posts and interactions from the same date every year that you’ve been on Facebook.
Around Father’s Day, I seriously considered turning off the feature, because that’s when the bad news started appearing from four years ago.
My mom went into the hospital. She couldn’t breathe. She had to go on a ventilator. She was moved in and out of the critical care unit. She was offically diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. She was down to one working lobe of one lung.
The news got sadder and sadder, and though me four years ago didn’t know what was coming, me today knows.
So I thought about turning away, because it’s so painful, but I decided not to.
The pain of her loss will always be with me. I will always grieve. And because I love her so much, I won’t turn away or run away from that.
I named my baby daughter Della after my mom. It will take me a while to get used to hearing people say “Della,” and not be referring to my mom. I knew another as Della for 29 years — well, 33, actually — before baby Della came along.
What would she think of that, of me naming my baby after her? Can she see us? Does she know how much I still grieve?
I picture her in my home. Holding my baby.
Some stories died with her. I don’t know how much I weighed at birth (so please stop asking), and no one can find her chicken pot pie recipe, perhaps because she just made it from memory.
Things I want to tell her:
• Mom, I had a C-section! Can you believe that?!? I projectile-vomited Jell-O on the anesthesiologist and in my hair and then promptly forgot about it because I was in so much pain and later I thought my blood was splashed all over the draping before remembering the Jell-O.
• I named my baby after you because I love you and miss you and hope we have a relationship like you and I had, except for my adolescent years — sorry about that.
• You didn’t get to see how “The Strain” trilogy ended, but that’s OK because the third book wasn’t that great. And now there’s a TV show.
• You would have loved “The Avengers” and “Jurassic World.” You, along with me, Matt and Nathan, would have laughed hysterically while Gerry kept replaying the scene of the witch jumping off the wardrobe in “The Conjuring” while Michelle screamed and threw things at Gerry.
• Kale is amazing. He was only 1 when you died. Now, he’s 5 and I’m pretty sure his vocabulary is bigger than mine. Emma is taller than me and Lane is umpiring little league games. You would recognize them if you saw them, but you would be astounded!
• Jazbo got ran over again last summer, the day before Independence Day. She died. Maybe you know that already. Maybe your little “junkyard dog” is with you again.
I recently came across the writing below on Facebook and I was curious about its context, so I looked it up on good old Google. Henry Scott Holland, the poem’s author, lived from Jan. 27, 1847, until March 17, 1918. He was a Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Oxford, according to Wikipedia, and who can’t trust Wikipedia? He wrote this as a sermon, actually, after the death of King Edward VII.
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”
All is well. Della Marie West entered another room on Aug. 9, 2011. Someday, I shall enter it, too, and I will see her there, and there will be no more tears.