|The last Christmas we had with our mom|
On August 3, 2001, I walked into my house and immediately knew something was wrong. It was much too quiet for a summer day in a house of eight kids. I came into the living room and saw my mom and my sister, Stephanie, lying on the couch. They held each other and sobbed. My younger sisters and six-year-old brother were there, too. Everyone was in tears.
"What's wrong? What happened?" I knew something had changed. My mom had always been so optimistic throughout her illness. She'd never broken down like this before.
"Ten tumors," she whispered between sobs, "ten tumors in my brain. The doctor says I only have a few days left to live."
I was shocked. I thought if my mom did lose her battle with cancer, it would be several years down the road. She was still laughing and talking with friends. She hadn't lost her hair. She didn't have much energy, and I knew she had been in a lot of pain, but I don't know--it just seemed like she would always recover.
I ran to them and hugged my mom, adding my tears to the mix.
After a few minutes, my mom said, "You know the part in Star Wars where Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Darth Vader, 'If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.' Well, that's how I feel."
I didn't really want her to talk like that, but it was somehow comforting.
"Just imagine what I could do." she smiled, "Don't even think of kissing a guy. I'll zap him."
We laughed and listened as she continued with multiple scenarios of hero-spirit-mom. She truly believed she would have some degree of influence when she was gone, that a mother's love must be powerful enough to transcend death.
Exactly one week later, she took her last breath. She was blessed to keep her mind and personality up until the day she died, even with all those tumors taking over her brain.
The next day was the strangest day of my life. My emotions were numb. I didn't know what to feel, or how to feel it, or how to react to my grief. So, I pushed it away and tried to ignore it. I'm sure I appeared cold and indifferent to people visiting to share their condolences. My fifteen-year-old heart and mind simply couldn't take in the reality that my mother was dead.
I wanted to retreat somewhere and get my mind on something else. How about a movie? So, I grabbed a Jurassic Park VHS and headed to the basement--with my six year-old brother, Matthew, in tow. My mom had very specifically ordered me not to let him watch that movie. I still feel awful that I disobeyed her wishes the very day after she died. Feel free to hate me for that. I deserve it.
So, I put the movie in the VCR player. The opening scene started. No more than 30 seconds went by--and then the screen went blank. Guilt hit me immediately. I thought of our conversation the week before. I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine. I was beginning to suspect she had been right.
For curiosity's sake, I tried turning on the TV again. No power. I tried the lights. No power. Then I went upstairs. I heard the dryer rumbling in the laundry room, so the electricity couldn't be out completely. I told my dad the power wasn't working in the basement. He came to investigate, found nothing, and then went to check the breakers.
Everyone was perplexed. Everyone except me, that is. I was too overwhelmed with guilt. My dad came back in the room, "Hmm, that's strange. One of the switches was off. Eight years in this house and never before have our breakers tripped. What were you doing to make it happen?"
What he meant was, "How much electricity were you using?" but what I heard was, "What did you do to make Mom angry?"
I had to come clean. "Okay, okay! It's my fault!" I started to sob, the pent up emotion releasing itself furiously. "I was watching Jurassic Park. With Matthew!"
My dad looked confused.
"Dad! I wasn't supposed to let him watch it. I made mom mad!" The tears flowed and there was no holding them back. I was a criminal against my own mother. It was the day after she died, and already, I had disrespected her memory. He laughed a little and hugged me. "Well, now you have a good story to tell at her funeral."
I don't know what influence my mother may actually have as a spirit. But I do believe she is living on, and that we'll be together again one day. Don't you think, though, that if anyone is granted extra powers, it would be a mother? She did promise us, after all, and my mom never broke her promises.