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.

4 thoughts on “Colorado

  1. I am so glad for you that you can see your mother through the eyes of love! I’m looking at a photo, of my mom and dad shortly after he retired, on their cruise to Alaska, that I keep on my desk. In it, they are about Debby’s age last year. When I was in my 30’s, when I looked at it I saw a balding guy resembling a beached beluga in his white dinner jacket, and a frumpy lady whose brightly colored dress looked like Spring threw up on her. Now I see two people who were delighted to be traveling through life together. It took me many decades to really see that photo and I think it is wonderful that you can see your mother for who she is, now.

  2. I’m so glad you have this wonderful memory of Colorado. I had never appreciated the state until Deb and I drove there together, stayed with Donna, met Pammy and the other cousins and drove up the mountain. What a beautiful picture of the two of you !

  3. My brother, Larry, first introduced me to Colorado when he took us to Gold Hill to see the house for which his friends had asked his help in building. He is now retired, living part of the year right in the town of Gold Hill. Later, your Uncle Jim introduced me to even more of those beautiful mountains. We even lived in Boulder for one summer.
    I remember seeing the field in the foothills where your mother kept her beloved horse. Everything about those mountains was magical.
    I know your mother always carried this with her. I am so happy that you do, too.
    Your stories and reflections on your mother are very helpful to me, too, Suzy. I, too, struggle with this grief. I first met her when she visited her big brother at Middlebury College, next another range of beautiful mountains, when she was only 17. The tapestry of music and mountains was so much a part of her identity.

  4. It’s good to see that you remember and write all good memories and time you spent with your mom. Sadness and grief stays forever, but looking at positive things we shared help us on coping with this time in a better way.

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