With Paper, Paint, and Stitches

There is no shortage of tragedy in my life. Sadly, for that reason, I’ll probably always have a “story that must not die” in my arsenal. This is not a badge of honor. A lot of us here feel the same way.

Perhaps this is why we are able to help the storytellers that visit us here. We are no strangers. Through these experiences, we may have picked up some tips along the way.

One set of pain or trauma there is no handbook for, is the loss of a loved one.

To her:

I have never been able to write about you. It’s just too damned difficult. I’m doing this today, not for me, for you, or for my sister, but for two women who mean just as much to me that recently lost someone they love.

That Night

July had never been eerie to me until that night. It was like I knew what was going to happen. How could I possibly know that? I still don’t know. Somehow, I sensed the tremendous blow before it hit. I even remember saying to family “Something just doesn’t seem right. This isn’t going to end well.”

My mother had gone in for what was explained to us as a “routine procedure” but what resulted was anything but.

She was supposed to have a portion of her stomach removed. The need for surgery was due to a bleeding ulcer that had been plaguing her for some time. The procedure was scheduled for the following morning. After all of the doctor visits, prescriptions, hospital stays, something ominous told me this would be the last one.

At 1AM we got a phone call. When the phone rang, I knew what it was, and I knew it was something bad. The nurse on the other end frantically pleaded for my grandfather to come up to the hospital. He then relayed the message to me. We didn’t stop to talk; we just quickly cleaned up, got dressed, and left.

When we got there, I was met by my aunt who had a look of deep concern on her face. This is a woman who I frequently credit with being my “cool aunt” never seeming down or sad, or frustrated. That night, though, I saw all those emotions and then some.

We walked into the room only to find my mother thrashing away, eyes open, but somewhat mentally and certainly vocally unresponsive.

The hospital staff mostly had an attitude of “We don’t know what happened.” I do remember one or two nurses looking at our family with feelings of empathy. One even covered her mouth and had to step away. She thought no one noticed her but I did. My eyes followed her as my family was all surrounding my mother. She walked up to another nurse, obviously a friend and said “She’s just so young. She has children, look at this poor family. I just can’t do this.” She soon after left the building.

What we were told is my mother was rapidly losing blood internally. The doctors had no answer for what caused it. At first, they were giving her transfusions right and left. They had asked us to step outside. Then, they realized she was losing blood faster than they could replace it. The mood shifted from focus and concern among the doctors to a “there’s nothing we can do” type of movement.

That’s exactly what we were told. “There’s nothing more we can do.” I could feel the hope around us shattering, from each relative, one by one.

Hallway to…

I started to replay the night before over in my head. I remembered speaking to her on the phone and her not making sense. Even though I just chalked it up to being overmedication, I thought it was strange. Her last words to me were “I love you.” Flash forward less than 12 hours later, and she is unresponsive, convulsing, and fighting for her life.

As I started to have a psychological meltdown in the IC unit’s hallway, I was interrupted by my grandfather, who asked that I go spend a moment with her.

I walked up to her bedside. There was blood everywhere; all over the sheets. I barely noticed it then, but it’s etched in my mind now. I took her hand and held it. It was the most beautiful and painful moment of my life at the same time. It was beautiful because I felt her. I don’t mean feeling in the physical sense. I mean I felt her “life force”. I felt her holding on and fighting to stay here, all just by holding her hand. Physically, it felt like how she felt when she didn’t want to do something. Like when someone digs their heels into the ground as a last ditch effort to stay put. It was painful because, although I knew she was “unresponsive” by medical terms, I knew her spirit was still very much there, but it wouldn’t be soon, and neither would her body—and I had to say goodbye.


So, I kissed her hand. I told her I loved her, and proceeded to lose it, while I walked out of the room. The rest of my family stayed with her. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t bear to watch the person I loved most on this Earth slip away. So I stepped outside, and I called the only voice that made any sense.

I lit up a cigarette. I cried and shook my head. People coming and going all did their best to avoid the young girl clearly having a breakdown out front. I found a dark green bench and sat while the phone rang. First time there was no answer. A warm breeze snapped me out of my crying for a second. Breezes are not so common in July, so I quickly took notice. The breeze brought my attention to a little patch of land where some stray kittens were playing out by the side of the hospital. The breeze started whipping through the trees in that direction and the tiny kittens all looked up. I watched the kittens looking up to the tops of the trees behind them and I had a strange, quiet moment of understanding. That breeze then took off through the trees and went through me, and with it, a group of birds darted outward.

A Somber Morning

My grandfather came outside right after that. He lit up a cigarette too. He explained how this was too much for him to deal with as well. That was, after all, his daughter lying in there. As we tried to process, my uncle came downstairs to get us.

“You’re gonna wanna come upstairs.” He said, with tears lining his eyes.

She was dead. At 9:35AM, on her birthday, July 1st, 2005, a light brighter than any of us had ever known burnt out.

A very large piece of me died with her that morning. It was the start of PTSD, though I didn’t know it at the time. I spent the following two years completely numb, plagued with addiction, and suicidal thoughts. It wasn’t until 2007 I started to pick up the pieces.

That piece of me is still gone, but scraps of it have been rebuilt with paper, paint, and stitches.

~For Goldy and Rara~



31 thoughts on “With Paper, Paint, and Stitches

  1. Thank you for sharing your story of loss with us. I know it wasn’t easy. I know.
    Death is such a hard truth of this world…
    But, talking about it helps alleviate the pain others are going through and hopefully your own as well.
    You are amazing. I met you long after you lost your mother, but I have no doubt she would see that as truth too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s hard, Matt. Even 10 years later, I sit here & I sob replaying the events back in my head.

      I had to get it out of me, though. It’s been eating me alive for ten long years.
      After I’ve healed a lot of these other wounds, I thought perhaps this could do the same.

      This is still a stubborn wound, but this was step one. Thank you guys for getting me to step one. I could not have reached this place if it hadn’t been for us. This past year, so much has happened, but I’m glad we’ve had each other.

      I know it may not heal the world, but I hope it reminds people that they’re not alone in the life-sucking pain that is this kind of a loss.

      She would have liked you. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t have much better words than what I posted before.
        I know someone will read this and take comfort from your shared grief, and that speaks volumes about the importance of sharing this story in the first place and your character as a human. You are amazing.
        I’m not sure we ever truly heal from the losses we experience. We grow and we change and we learn to carry on, but we always are missing that piece of us the person we lost used to occupy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s so true. We can heal, but I don’t think it’s ever 100%.
        You are amazing too, for gathering us all & holding us together. You might just be the part of the “stitches” I spoke of.

        & You just reminded me, I’ve gotta bug someone because I haven’t heard from her lately & that’s not like her.
        Off to email.

        I’m okay now, friend. Took a long time to get here, but I’m slowly moving on. Better late than never, right? I’ll always be a little broken, but nothing a little paper, paint, and stitches (& friends) won’t fix. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve ‘liked’ this, but only as support to you, not because I actually ‘like’ it.
    What a horrendous thing to happen. This story makes me sad and angry. Angry because my father died under similar circumstances. His was a routine knee reconstruction. This caused a clot which was treated with an anti-clotting agent. Result – he bled to death.
    This is one of the reasons I have very little trust in hospitals and doctors. When my father-in-law had a stroke a couple of years later I went to see him at the hospital and he was in the same room my father had been in. It was too much. I couldn’t visit him.
    For years I felt as if I was just walking through life and falling into pot holes. I’d pick myself up and when I least expected it, there was another pot hole. They say these things make you stronger, but I think they say that because there really are no words for the pain.
    I have no more words, just thoughts of healing, love and strength for you xxxx

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh sweetheart, your words are plenty. They are your gift. & You (whether you realize it or not) have that same healing touch people here have come to know me for.

      You empathize with all of us & you more than just care – you feel it as well. I know this because I am the same.

      I’m sorry you know of the same incompetence of doctors & hospitals that I do, but I always knew we had this in common, sadly. I sensed it, picking on bits & pieces of our conversations.

      There are no words for the pain, Dianne – only feelings. & Those same feelings that you, and I, and so many other feel so intensely, are what bring us together. (& I am a so thankful for that. 😉 )

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, my, so beautifully written and with such empathic detail for everyone involved. I am so sorry for your and your family’s loss – time may have passed, but the hurt and ache of the loss of a mother never truly goes away. Someone once told me that losing a mother was like losing a piece of your soul that you never knew you needed until it was gone. I didn’t really understand that until I lost my own mother, and in the gaping chasm of her loss, I felt like I, too, could no longer find myself. I think the aching wound slowly becomes a scar, but we’re never quite the same. My heart goes out to you and I am so thankful you shared this memory. *hugs*

    Liked by 2 people

    • R, you’ve caught my eye these past few weeks & got me curious about researching you, now I know why.
      The comment explains itself.
      You seem to be uniquely kind. & I don’t need to say how rare that is these days.

      I’m sorry you know this feeling too. It is a horrible, nagging pain.

      It is like losing a piece of your soul. I jokingly blame the twitch in my left eye on that. I say “that’s from when the demons took over” but somewhere, deep down, I wasn’t joking.

      I’m glad we’re both able to reach a place where we can hug another & tell them it’s going to be okay – because I never thought I’d get there.



      • Oh, thank you, so much, that is so kind. I, too, am glad we’re able to reach that place – it took so long, and, I’ll admit, I still sometimes wake up with that gritty taste of grief and tears, remembering holding her hand so vividly like it was just yesterday, not over five years ago. But it is better and I’m so glad we’re at a hugging place, too. I’m also glad that my sister pointed me to your site.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Your sister is Deborah, right, R? (My memory is terrible.) I have to remember to thank her & tell the rest of the STMND family to thank her as well.
        You’ve been a sweetheart today & I’m glad you’re here. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing this. I lost my mom a little over 6 years ago and I know I’ll never stop missing her. Those we’ve lost live on in our hearts and our stories about them, and that at least is a comforting thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Oh, chica. Big soft dinosaur hugs coming your way! The writing was beautiful, the story was heart-breaking. I love you. Thank you for walking the courage so important to the message of this site, and living the bravery which spurs the hope we all need in order carry on.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Hearing you say that and hearing all these lovely voices here makes it all worth it, chica. I told you, you built a very loving community here. 🙂 We just watered the plants here while you were gone, so to speak. 😀
      Don’t worry. We took good care of this place. 😉 & I love you, so much too. & All of the *family* here. (They know what I mean. Lil’ in joke with us. We must tell you tales of “Don BroJo”. I’ll let Matticus tell you those stories. 😀 ) Welcome home, sweetness. Welcome home. 😉 ♥️


  6. I hope it felt better when you let all that out. I would always like to believe that people who are gone are always just a thought away just as God is, a prayer, a plea, a thanks and remembrance reaches them faster than any whatapp or internet message.

    Love and light

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’d describe it as a slower lift of the weight, ashualec. When I’ve shared other stories here, I’d say it felt like an instant heal, instant weight off.

      This story…This story, though, it carries a bit more weight. It, along with the events afterward took up a considerable chunk of my life, and I still feel the effects today.

      Thank you for coming in & reading, and listening, & for sharing a kind word. 🙂 ♥️

      Liked by 1 person

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