April 4, 2015, at 12:34 pm, my world changed and it hasn’t been the same since. This day will forever be one of the worst days of my life. It’s the day my Mom died. If you’ve never lost a parent, then you can’t even imagine the devastation and pain that occurs.
My mom was my best friend. We talked everyday sometimes several times a day. I used to be annoyed by the many phone calls but I’d give anything to have just one of those calls now. She was a quiet woman but always made me laugh. She was a great mom always making sure my brothers and I had what we needed. My brother and I joke about how we didn’t even know we were poor because my mom always tried to make sure we had what everyone else had.
I had just talked with my mom before I got the call that she was not responding. My mom had cirrhosis of the liver from many years of drinking. Her liver was so damaged that it could no longer repair itself. She was rushed to the hospital a month prior and was told they couldn’t do much for her. It would take a miracle for her to live a long life because her liver was giving a toxin to her kidneys that were causing them to fail. Dialysis wasn’t an option because her veins would blow and she would die instantly. All they could do was make her comfortable. The day the doctors told us my mom, my brother and I must have cried together for hours. It was a deep connection although painful. My mom was apologizing for not seeking help earlier and for causing pain but in that moment all we wanted was for her to be well. The doctors sent her to specialists in New Orleans to maybe prolong her life but they too determined that they couldn’t do anything.
On that day, we had a great convo. We laughed about my youngest brother and how when she finally had an appetite the food was nasty at the hospital. My mom hasn’t been able to walk due to the pain from her liver however that morning she had walked to the bathroom. I asked her how she felt and she told me she felt good. She said she was just ready to go home. I told her that I wanted to come see her. New Orleans is about a 5-hour drive from Houston. She told me not to because she was going home soon. I told her how much I loved her and how proud of her I was. She had vowed to stop drinking to prolong her life and I knew that was hard for her. She told me she loved me and I just knew I would talk with her later.
Twenty minutes later my brother calls very upset saying that Mom is not responding and he’s headed back to New Orleans. I immediately call my stepdad, Tommy, to find what’s going on. The minute he heard my voice he started to cry. This is a man whom I’ve never heard cry ever! He was devastated! He was just told his wife of 20 years was expiring and they couldn’t do anything else for her. Tommy told me that she wasn’t going to make it through the day and the doctors were asking if he wanted them to perform life-saving measures. He told them he needed to talk with me and my brother first. Of course, we said yes. We wanted them to do everything they could to keep her alive. But after telling us the effects of each option we decided it was best to just let her pass.
My world was crashing and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I was in a good place now. Prior to this I had lost most of my possessions and was damn near homeless. I had finally found a place and had transportation. But on that day, none of that mattered. I was losing one of the most important people in my life and I was devastated. I was totally lost.
My stepdad called me every 30 minutes with updates. I love him because he was so optimistic. He would tell me she was resting and seemed to be fighting. I think he did that for us because he didn’t want us to hurt. He wanted our mom to survive not only for himself but for us her children.
When my phone rang at 12:34 pm, I knew she was gone. I will never forget what Tommy told me. He said, “ Well she’s gone, sweetie. I told her I loved her and that we would be ok. I told her she didn’t have to fight anymore and kissed her. After that, she left.” I felt like the air had been knocked out of me. I had my children, Kaniecia and Kaylon, in the car with me. Now I was tasked with telling them and wasn’t sure how they would react. Of course, they were devastated and I didn’t know how to comfort them. I was in my own pain and I didn’t know what to do.
Instead of making a million calls, I decided to do a post telling the world that my mother, Linda Kaye Dorty Gaines, was no longer with us. I placed calls to my close family members and met a friend at a local restaurant. I can remember my friend Christie calling me moments after my mom passed to check on her. She was so encouraging and hopeful. I had to tell her that she had just passed but thanks for the encouragement. Another friend, Felicia, called as soon as she read the message on Facebook. She told me how sorry she was and how she was there for whatever I needed. It was those two calls that I will always remember. In a very uncomfortable situation, they took the time to call and comfort me.
I was being honored that night for a single mom’s award and certainly wasn’t in the mood to go. The host and organizer of the show called me to confirm my attendance and I told him I wasn’t sure. My mom had just passed. He offered his condolences and said he understood if I couldn’t attend. But he encouraged me to come in honor of my mother. I did and I accepted that award in her honor. She had been a single mother for many years and did the best she could for us.
The day my mother died is one I will never ever forget. It broke me down to a point that I thought I would never recover. But I draw from my mother’s strength to know that I can and will always recover from anything. I grieve for my mother every day. Grief is a process that will last until I die. How we deal with it the healing part. I’ll never stop grieving over my parents and I don’t even have the expectation. But how I honor them is being successful and living my best life.