I remember the moment I lost my mom. She was sitting in front of me, but she was gone.
I had just told her that we decided to name our son after her dad, my grandfather. She stared at me blankly – looking more through me than at me – and said, puzzled, “My dad?!” I could see the wheels turning in her head, trying to think of who her dad was.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first time that she demonstrated this intense state of confusion. She had been diagnosed with a rare progressive disease called Primary Progressive Aphasia two years prior. But this was the first time I knew that she was truly slipping away…and fast.
I never imagined that in my twenties I wouldn’t “have” my mom anymore. I pictured moments spent chatting with her and my sisters over home-cooked meals and taking vacations together with all of our kids. I never imagined that I wouldn’t be able to pick up the phone and call my mom whenever I wanted. Or to talk to her about the milestones my twenties have brought me – funny stories about my bachelorette party in Nashville, daily questions about pregnancy or the newborn stage. Or to simply get motherly advice for when I spill red wine on my carpet at 10 o’clock at night. I never imagined that I would have to experience the biggest loss of my life before actually physically losing her at all.
(Photo: Jessie and her mother, Dee, on her wedding day)
Anyone who’s been lucky enough to meet my mom feels like they have known her their entire lives. She has the sweetest soul of anyone I have ever known. She is the type of person who only asks for socks every Christmas because she doesn’t want anyone spending their hard earned money on her.
She was that mom who would leave notes in my lunchbox (yes, even in high school). I was so excited to be able to give my kids the best grandma in the world, one who would surely spoil them rotten. But the harsh reality is that she doesn’t know my son’s name. He will not know her the way I did, or the way I had always pictured he would.
(Photo: Dee and Jessie's newborn son, Jude)
Fortunately, she does recognize my son and loves him beyond words. Her disease hasn’t prevented her from being an incredible grandma, but I never imagined I’d have to have a conversation with my husband about how we’ll explain to our son why “Grammy Dee” doesn’t know his name. It is not because she doesn’t love him, because trust me, she does.
( Photo: Jessie, Dee and Jude)
I try to fathom the future, but I’m merely left with questions. How does a family watch a person we love and have looked up to our entire lives slip away right in front of us? How does a person deal with hearing her mother say she no longer wants to be with us because she feels like a burden? Will I ever be able to see a mother and daughter together in public or hear about my friends shopping with their moms without crumbling into a heap of jealousy and tears? How do we help her when there is no cure to this horrible disease? Why do these things happen to the best people, who deserve it the least?
How does one cope with losing a loved one, when they are physically still here?
Jessie Slomiany is an almost 30 year old who just bought her forever home in her hometown of Harleysville, PA. She works as a recruiter who loves nothing more than a glass of red wine while snuggling with her Bernese Mountain dog (and husband) and binge-watching Netflix. She recently became a mom to the most perfect little boy, Jude. They love spending weekends at their family home in Margate, NJ or Lake Harmony, PA. Connect with Jessie by email at Jessie.Slomiany@gmail.com