Tonight, my mom tried to give mouth-to-mouth to a dead kitten.
It was only a few days old.
She called me sobbing. I knew this was coming.
I hadn’t allowed myself to hope the kitten would make it.
The rest of the litter had already died. The mom, a feral cat that lives in and out of her house, had abandoned her babies. Who knows why.
This situation was very upsetting and heartbreaking for my mom, whose chore has been to gather up dead kittens and put them in the trash this week.
The pragmatist in me felt anger first. “Ugh, MOM, stop feeding these wild cats! They only cause problems!”
I wanted to scream at her, but not because I’m mad about the cats.
I was mad about this moment. The one that came tonight, where she cried her raspy sobs into the other side of the phone and I stood there helpless, letting her grieve and offering my calming words.
“It’s okay mom. You tried hard. Nobody could have done much better, okay?”
“Okay,” she cried. “At least he purred a few times. That means he felt some happiness.”
“Yes, that’s right, mom. Do you want to stay on the phone with me while you put him away?”
“I want to pray over him first. Dear God. Thank you for his sweet life. Thank you for taking him now. Amen.”
“I named him Lorazepam,” she said. “He was a gift.”
This detail is when my own warm tears began to spill out, silently.
My cynical thoughts began to intrude almost at the same time my cheeks got wet.
Hey, that’s awesome. Your mom named her dead kitten after her medicine.
That is an amazing little detail. Of course she named the kitten after her medicine…. Ugh. Fuck this shit.
I can already hear the judgement from animal lovers as I’m typing this. “Couldn’t she have called animal control? Surely there was someone who could have helped. Maybe if they had tried this, or that…”
No. The answer is NO.
She called the vet. Nothing they can do, they told her.
She called Animal Control – who told her she would need to call the sheriff’s office or something first, to which my understandably paranoid mother said “no thank you.”
I put a post out to Facebook asking for any locals to take up the cause.
Here’s the thing.
The dead kitten? It’s awful.
But it’s not just that. It’s everything.
My mom had real hope she could keep that little thing alive. She was really hoping.
He was the last one left.
But he died.
There is not enough help.
I promise you, there is not enough help.
My mother, a 64-year-old, kindly, creative, grandmother, who wants to save all the kittens, is living alone inside a falling down house, with a colostomy bag, holding on to my words on the other side of the phone, and thanking me for being there, while she bags up the still-warm creature, praying to God and slurring her words because she took extra “lorazepam” to get her through the angst of today.
This is what it looks like.
This is what it really looks like.
And I keep hearing she’s one of the lucky ones…
If you have one single moment of judgement right now, feel free to private message me with your questions – I’ll be happy to spend a few hours explaining the basics about “why isn’t there live-in care?” or “Where is her social worker?” or “Why is she living alone?”
For now, please just trust me when I tell you, there is not enough help.
RIP, sweet little Lorazepam.
*** The image for this post was taken four years ago. It was not her cat. I wrote about dead pets back then, too. You can find another sad essay, HERE.
Its tough. Theres not enough outreach and help. But just know when i read your blog, i feel i can relate which is nice because of the subject itself and embarassment or other issues. Like in this post, like the never ending battle of the internal thought “fu*k this sh*t” when sometimes you just dont wanna deal with it or just want to run away. Just know that you being at the end of that phone call at that moment, and others too, that it was EVERYTHING, esp to your mom, even when mostly feels like it wouldnt have mattered or unappreciated. I try to tell myself that all the time when helping my mom out. Keep strong, woman!
Well written. Sorry about the kitten. Not just that it didn’t survive. But because that it did. Long enough to draw your mom into a delusion of its potential. Only to then break her heart.
I follow you on facebook. A self punishment of sorts. My heart aches for you. My heart aches for your mother. My heart aches for me. My heart aches for my mother. Thing is, my mom passed away a few years back. 64 years old. I had already put her in a nursing home because, well, because there was not enough help. She had social workers, home health aids, case workers, psychiatrists….uggh. they all gave her the required 15 minutes. Coffers remain filled. My mother’s needs remained unmet. I tried to care for her. To help. But my mom was a volatile mean woman. Unfortunately, especially to me.
Sometimes i want to unfollow your posts. I feel drawn into your experience. Drawn into your struggle to cope with your mom’s struggles. Wondering if you too ever feel overwhelmed and wish you had a mom who could help you cope with the mom you have. Or is that just me? Does that make me a bad daughter?
Do i follow your posts because i think i wasnt enough- not patient enough, not kind enough, not understanding enough, not there enough- for my mom? So I punish myself by revisiting the pain of it all. Through you. Through not recognizing that your posts are YOURS. Your story. Not mine. i take on your pain, and your mother’s, as if it were my own. I watched a video of your mom crying. I cried. For your mom. For you. For my mom. For myself.
Thank you for the writings. I always look forward to what you will write next.
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Like some of the previous post, I too have been in similar circumstances with my mother. I had to comfort her when Luther Vandross died, because she always believed that the lyrics in his music were direct messages to her and that they were ( in her mind) husband and wife. In fact she was hospitalized shortly after his death. She mourned for a long time and still when she hears his music on the radio tears well up in her eyes. The saddest part is knowing that loneliness is what made mother cling to such unrealistic ideals. Just sharing that moment of my moms life, here on this post, was embarrassing for me, but I wanted you to know that you are not alone in this world. I have never had anyone to talk to. No one person who could understand what moments like those were like for me, until now. Thank you.😪
Thank you for sharing about Luther Vandross. I actually really, really love the specific detail in your story. I also relate to the embarrassment of wanting to keep it quiet. My mom often believes she is actually Mary Magdalene. It’s a long-running, deep-rooted delusion of hers. Sometimes she signs paintings as “MM” and has even sent packages in the mail to my kids signed as Mary Magdalene. Sometimes it’s kinda hilarious, because if you can’t laugh, well, you know the alternative… Big hugs. ❤
Ronda, I want to reach out to everyone who was crushed under the burden of trying with all our might to love, to help, to be present, only to end up needing to leave because sometimes these illnesses are buried under so many layers it’s impossible to tunnel there alone. Sometimes these illnesses make people behave in awful ways, and even though we know somehow “it’s not their fault,” it’s not OUR fault, either. I will repeat my mantra… there is not enough help. Not enough for the ones who are hanging on, not enough for the ones left behind, not enough for the ones who walked away. Thank you for your comment. I’m going to try very hard to write more on this topic of “abandonment,” because I think there are so many more quiet lurkers in my project who feel just as you do. ❤
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It is amazing that you have dealt with almost the mirror image of who my mom was. She died 4rs ago at the age of 65. I also grew up with an uncle with schizophrenia who lives with us. My mom and dad had such a toxic relationship…I would wonder on a daily basis when they would die, how they would die. I would ridden myself with anxiety when she showed up at my door slurring her words from taking an extra pill (or 3-4). I would try to keep her at my house as long as I could, fearing it would be the last time I saw her.
I know your pain. There is no extra help. We carry this burden, and as much as we love our parents–the fuse is sometimes too small. My mom was my best friend, I miss her. But not these times of impairment. It was so fucking draining.
I thought it was sweet and funny that she named it lorazepam. All your feelings of sarcasm are normal. You work incredibly hard at keeping a healthy and helpful attitude which is pretty incredible. I know there isn’t enough help out there but think of what your mom’s life would be like without you and your brother! I have two very close friends whose fathers are mentally ill and they both say “it messes with you.” They keep a sense of humor about it to survive I think. Hang in there. You are an incredible daughter.
I agree completely. From my own struggles with mental health to knowing and loving an addict who I could not help. I had to watch the father of my child hit his bottom..
No words, just so sorry for the pain that both of you are going through…
I can’t even imagine what you’re going through. My mom has battled addiction (drugs, alcohol…..everything) my entire life, before I was even born. It’s been tough, but I can’t even wrap my head around what you face as a daughter. xo
I have no words, I can only offer prayers
Hugs to you. That is I got. ❤️
I love reading your posts. Your mother seems very sweet. It seems that there are quite of few of us that are dealing with a parent with mental illness. My mother suffers from depression and psychosis. She is not so sweet. She will say or do anything to get her way. It’s overwhelming. There is no help anywhere. Doctors line up to get paid and social services claim that if she is not in “immediate danger” (whatever that means) they can’t help her.
Imminent danger means that a person has made an explicit and imminent threat to do serious bodily harm to themselves or someone else. It can also mean that they’re in need of their basics (heat, food, clothing, etc.) for survival. You can’t just lock someone up because they are “not so sweet”.
I have been crying for days after having found your website. My family has a history of mental illness; my aunt had schizophrenia but it was mostly swept under the rug and I think I only met her twice in my life. I have extreme depression and panic attacks which was undiagnosed most of my life. We didn’t talk about those things in my family. Thankfully, things are different now. I have a family member who is being treated for the same condition as myself. She is young and I pray her life will be better than mine. Her parents love her and, surprisingly, I receive more understanding rather than judgement now. It breaks my heart seeing your beautiful, sweet mother suffering so; the agony on her face is so transparent. Please pass on my love and understanding to her. I am praying that she will have more peace and less terrifying fear. Your mother is incredibly lucky to have you, your brother and others who love her so much. The courage and love in your story is both inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time.
Judge you? I’m super impressed she’ll take medication. My mom won’t. She’s certain it’s some sort of conspiracy. She’s in her 70s. My 3 sisters do more for her than I do, and I live 10 minutes away. I hardly ever talk to her on the phone.
I love her. I do. It’s just that my oldest son died about 6 years ago and the things she says and asks, well I just can’t cope. I pray she stays alive until I can.
Emily you truly are her salvation. Feel blessed for having been there, for making her world a better place, for her. This may not be the life you wanted, but it has made you the best person you could be, having been thru these struggles. Life is a challenge no matter what. We may not have yours but we have our own. Go see her, even if she says no. She had you for a reason, one maybe beyond our understanding. Thank you.
At least Emily is talking about the need for home health care instead of jumping eagerly onto the “meds-and-beds” bandwagon.
Well said. I totally can relate to this. My mother is 65 and has been diagnosed with Schizophrenia since before I was born. I am 35 now. The sad part to me is that to people who really live through the experiences of someone who does have Schizophrenia, is this is probably a good day or a “normal day” for you. I have been struggling with my feelings and thoughts of her my whole life. Your blog has helped me realize that I am not alone in dealing with my mother and her episodes…. It has actually made me feel more normal in this world. I have recently made a friend that has gone through her whole life with a Schizophrenic father. And her and I decided it would be easier on us to pray for the others parent. I understand the struggle of F*#k this s&i! its a daily struggle to want to keep helping and praying for a miracle… so to you all I offer the same relief…. I will pray for your loved ones and you pray for mine…. its funny how this gave her and I so much peace. BC you want whats best but the struggle to stay positive and moving forward is real. So prayers to all.
This tears my heart out. My mother-in-law is a long time drug user and just a few years ago was diagnosed as schizophrenic and its starting to all kind of make sense for me about her long term behavior. My husband on the other hand is struggling with her and her actions all the time. I try to understand how awful the world is for her but my husband has a really hard time not expecting her to just act “normal”and it breaks my heart for both of them. Thank you for sharing these stories somehow it helps me to know we are not alone.