Average Jane

Strength From our Mothers

Today was supposed to be the final day of my site visit to New Orleans. I was really stoked to go. I’d be working, but it was bound to be a good time. Before I left for the trip, though, I had actually made some plans. Super rare for this homebody. Friday night I was going to meet some friends in Bethesda. I talked to my mom when I got home from work. She had a *great* day. For my mom to say she had a great day is something special. Life hasn’t treated my mom so great. She’s a trooper though, a real star. She loved her job, she said, and Mimi was feeling better. She may even be able to go on a walk on Saturday! “Are you going to walk around the neighborhood or the mall?” I asked. She replied, “Don’t know. We’ll decide tomorrow.”

Mimi was my mom’s best friend. They met when they were two young newlyweds who followed their respective husbands to jobs in Pittsburgh. My mom got pregnant with my brother, and Mimi was inspired, so she got pregnant too. Mimi and her family travelled around the country for Warren’s job (he’s the husband). My parents visited them in many of the cities they visited. I threw up in Warren’s brand new car when I was but a few months old and don’t think I haven’t heard about it ever since! They settled in Connecticut for a while so that their daughter could have a place to go to school, get Bat Mitzvahed, and develop friendships. We had Thanksgiving there for many years, replete with food fights, ice wars, and scrabble. Then Mimi and her husband Warren moved to FL 3 years ago. My parents moved shortly after. When they got to FL Mimi found out she had cancer.

“Lisa, it’s mom. Call me on my cell when you get this.” It was 7:45pm when I got the message. I was in a towel as I’d just come out of the shower, but it sounded important. “Mom?” “Hi, Lisa. I’ve got some bad news…” “What happened?” “Mimi died.”

I didn’t exactly know what to do. I wasn’t sure what to say. After a 2 year battle with cancer it wasn’t surprising that she had passed away, but it was shocking… jarring… disturbing… it was just painful.

My mom, though. It was my mom was I worried about. I cried. I got in my car to go to synagogue to say the prayer for the dead and I cried. It was raining and dark. I didn’t know anyone there at the service, but I knew I had to be there. It was the only family I had. I cried for Mimi. I cried for her family. I cried for my mom. They had been like sisters. And in just two days my mom was to celebrate her birthday. “Please, God, don’t let the funeral be on her birthday. Please, she’s had it hard enough.” I guess God has His reasons, but my mom had little to celebrate on Monday, April 24, when she put her best friend into the ground. She died in her sleep. Laid down to take a nap. She was tired. I can’t blame her.

I was there by my mother’s side as any good daughter would be as they lowered her into the ground. I held her hand. I wiped her tears. I cried a few of my own. Warren and Mimi were as in love as any couple could be. Mimi was there with Warren when he had brain surgery for a tumor that still afflicts him today. Warren was there with Mimi as she breathed her last breath. Their daughter was a wreck, prostrating herself on the coffin as it lay there, waiting to be lowered, yelling “Mommy, mommy no. No mommy no!” Her father comforting her, “That’s not mommy in there. That’s not mommy.” Mimi was survived by her father who sat there, a witness as they lowered the coffin. An impossible task.

I had never experienced death as an adult. I wish I could say I understand it better now, but I don’t. What I do understand is what it means to be there for somebody. I finally got to be there for my mother when she needed me most. My mother, who celebrated her life and her best friend’s life on the same day. My mother who lives her life for other people got to celebrate the life of her best friend who did the same.


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