Colorado

My mom was raised in Colorado. Her love for the mountains never left and she passed this on to all her children – a love for the air, the trees, the colors, and the perspective one gains when they are in the mountains.

One of my most memorable Colorado trips was a camping trip we took the summer I was 16. I had just lost a dear friend and the drive to Colorado was full of sad songs and poem writings. The theme song for the trip was RENT’s Seasons of Love. We camped among the trees and I often found alone time to write and think – a still moment amongst those who loved me.

In high school, my best friend and I accompanied my mom to Denver for my grampy’s wedding. My grammy passed when I was very young and my memories of her are fleeting – mostly created through old photos and stories. My grampy remarried a wonderful woman, Donna. She lives just outside of Denver and always welcomes us with a smorgasbord of food before we enter the mountains.

In January 2012, I traveled up with my mom for my grampy’s funeral. Family came from all over and converged for stories and togetherness – perhaps one of the greatest gifts funerals give us. We took my mom up to the mountains for a couple nights after the services. It was snowy and cold but the views were spectacular and the company did not disappoint.

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I married a man who has an equally big love for Colorado and we try to make it to the mountains at least once a year. Sometimes we are accompanied by my siblings, sometimes his parents, and sometimes just us. This past summer we went just our family. It was during this trip that my mom went to the emergency room.

My siblings and I began text strands and FaceTime calls about how best to help mom – she had just turned 65, was working two jobs, not eating well, and struggling with depression. This is what we thought we were battling. And perhaps it was. However, as the days unfolded we slowly found answers and realized we were battling a bigger beast – Cold Antibody Hemolytic Anemia.

After my mom was admitted to the hospital, we decided to cut our vacation short. On the last morning in Colorado, we hiked up to Lily Pad Lake – one of my mom’s favorite hikes – and enjoyed the views and sense of family, of being together and of caring so damn much for one another.

We headed back to Kansas and I drove all night – getting back about 3 am. I slept for maybe 2 hours and quickly showered and rushed to the hospital. I arrived at 6:30 am and walked in my mom’s room.

She embraced me weakly and we both sobbed.

“I thought I was going to die,” she cried.

“Me too, mom. I love you.”

She had no energy to move, to lift her head, to speak – that is what Cold Antibody Hemolytic Anemia does. I sat in a chair next to her and we both dozed off until the doctors and nurses started moving us down for her treatment.

This was the moment.

Just my mom and I.

Togetherness.

That is really what Colorado is all about. Being together with people you love. At that moment, her hospital room was my Colorado. I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world.

Thanks mom, for Colorado.

Music

I studied Social Work and was/am particularly interested in Solution Focused Therapy and how a strengths-based approach translates into parenting, work and life in general. During college, my professor asked us to write about a traumatic event through a Solution Focused Framework. We were supposed to look for the change agents and the positive coping skills – not just the silver lining, but the grit and tenacity it takes to make it through a traumatic event and come out on the other side more resilient.

So this is part of my mom’s story. Not through the lens of gut wrenching sadness – believe me, it was and is there – but a series of memories of what got me through.


Mom Memory 1: Music

As a child music was a part of my life. I grew up on oldies, a little bit of county, and praise songs. Sometimes we would play a game where everything we said had to be in song form. And my parents would often sing me to sleep with songs such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “All the Pretty Little Horses”.

From July 13th – 16th, music filled my mom’s hospital room. After she suffered a major stroke on July 12th, we were transferred to ICU. Throughout the next couple days she had a never ending line of friends who came singing hymns such as “Amazing Grace” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.

Being Moshers, we sang “I Like to Eat Apples and Bananas” on more than one occasion, trying to fill the room with laughter.

I spent the night at the hospital on Thursday, July 13th. My brother left the CD player on repeat when he left so there was music in the room for us. However, the only thing on the CD was Pachelbel’s Canon… all. night. long. At first it was annoying, but I was too tired to get up out of the plastic hospital chair. It then became soothing and I kept it on repeat all morning too.

My mom’s brother had been practicing the Native American flute to play with my mom. When the room was quiet, he embraced this instrument and played for her with compassion and love.

As relatives came, we joined in song together. The longest rendition was by 4-year-old Niece Nora. No one is quite sure what she was singing, but it was a lovely song created in the moment just for Aunt Debby.

My Uncle Jim Mosher played his harp Thursday evening and all morning on Sunday, the day she died. His melodies were slow and familiar hymns mixed with long tones and the room’s tears. A peaceful comfort blanketed my mom, our visitors, and the nurses in the ICU.

My mom passed away the evening of Sunday, July 16th. The grief settled over us and we cried and embraced one another. We naturally formed a circle around my mom and shared stories and memories – and songs. Even in this time, we took turns playing songs that reminded us of mom.

“When words fail, music speaks.”

After her passing, my siblings and I divided up her Native American flutes and other instruments. And we have enjoyed playing them – definitely not doing them justice, but we think she would like it.

I continue to listen to songs that remind me of her. It helps me feel her and sense that she is here enjoying the music with me. Music has been and will be a cornerstone of our family. Thank you mom for creating this memory for me – this family value of music. I love you and look forward to feeling you in the next song I hear.