I just wanted to thank Amanda Suarez for her Losing a Parent [“College Interrupted: When You Lose a Parent” from 04/02/15] article.
On Sunday February 1st, my dad called me at 9am to let me know my mom wasn’t feeling up to cooking dinner that night so to not worry about coming up to North Philly to have my birthday dinner. It would be next Sunday, but did I want to talk to her? I said sure. She said sorry she wasn’t feeling too well today, she had a stomach bug and that she would put the roast beef in the freezer for next week. Also that she made me meatballs with the rice in them like grandmom used to make, which my mom hated and wouldn’t usually make a separate batch just for me. She was also having a bit of a potassium problem and was going to go to Quest to get a routine blood test to check her levels like she had been for years. Love you, bye. Then after sleeping for another hour, I went to Commons to eat lunch with my boyfriend and our friend. My dad calls me, and the usual pranky comments spew out around me, “Oh yeah and don’t forget we’re sharing heroin needles later.—yeah drugs and cocaine and—” Okay sure, dad, I’ll go to a quiet place. I get it.
Mom died at 12:34 pm.
I had never truly understood the term “blood–curdling–scream” before.
She passed out in bed shortly after I got off the phone with her. The paramedics resuscitated her in bed and got her to the hospital, but she died there shortly after.
I’m glad I know the employees at Commons because they were able to get my boyfriend for me. I went back to our room and cried, and he calmed me down.
My New Year’s resolution had been to get my work done early and do all of my readings, and I had been for the most part successful, but then I took a week off of school and was going to a funeral and greeting my mom’s old friends and listening to recordings of her singing.
I wouldn’t have been able to get through it all without my advisor in the College Office, K. Glanzer, who helped me so, so much during my breakdown freshman year, and all of the support I received from my professors, meeting before class with me, extending deadlines and telling me that my health is most important and not to worry about taking time to care for myself.
I resonated with the guilty feeling Pat Zancolli described [in "College Interrupted"]. This guilt was first of grieving and breaking my promise to myself to keep on top of schoolwork, the next week it was of getting back into the swing of things and feeling like I had to constantly remind myself that my mom was in fact dead. Seeing my therapist helped me a lot. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do; I had no procedure for “when your mom dies.” I’d never experienced life without her. And what of my dad? He had two weeks off of work, but that’s not nearly enough time to mourn a companion of 26 years. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel—and I learned that it’s something you just have to let happen, acknowledge it and try to continue on.