For my mother, Ann Mary, may you finally rest in peace
It started out as many New Year's Eve's do, with celebration. I woke up early and like many days it started with me shopping. Of course, I went overboard. We were staying home to bring in the New Year as we have for the past 17 years since we brought home our first child. Tonight we would be ringing in the New Year with at least 5 children, two of our own and 3 of our grandchildren. My eldest would come too with her husband and friends for a few hours before they left for there own celebration at the Bonfire in Paterson. As it would turn out two of my dearest friends would come join us as well.
So, the preparations went so well, the day so well. Michaell, Adam, Madison and I cleaned the house, decorated and prepared many, many treats before the onslaught at 7pm. I did spend a lot of time distracted and on the phone. One phone call....actually two...this day will last in time forever resonating in my heart.
I spoke to my mother Ann Mary earlier. She had come back from another failed medical test and was very down as she was exhausted of the testing and prodding with never a good result. She was tired from the day but more tired of the weeks, months, years of poor health. She told me she was not going for her next test, she just couldn't go through it. It wasn't a shock to me as she had been preparing to leave this earth for a while now, I know, she told me many times in the past few months.
In fact, 3 days ago I sat in therapy and prepared for the day I would receive the news and worked for over an hour on how I would feel, act, manage that call. That call came only hours after I spoke to her as my step-father called to tell me she was gone. The time was 7:30 with all my children and grandchildren upstairs celebrating, I went down stairs for a moment when the phone rang. It was a .few seconds to actually realize it was Herb sobbing and I immediately knew why. In therapy we had never covered the actual call from Herb and his heartbreak tore at my sole more than I knew it could. His loss was so great, his pain horrofic. As I began weeping it was for him as I hadn't even begun my own thoughts that my mother had died. At that moment one thing will remain crystal clear, etched on my soul for eternity, that Herb had lost his wife. As soon as I hung up the work I did in therapy began to unfold before me. I barely made the top of the stairs before I broke down calling for Michael.
It was Adam who heard me and ran to me. It scared him to see his Dad in so much pain and immediately ran to get his father, screaming for him announcing to everyone that Dad is crying and needs you right now. Michael reached me in an instant followed by everyone else. Rosa, the dutiful eldest, shooed everyone else away and Michael somehow got me back downstairs. As waves of mixed emotions began taking hold of me, it was then that I new I was absolutely fine. Nothing was happening to me that I had not just only 3 days ago, by divine intervention, prepared for. So I was back upstairs quickly to hug and comfort everyone and let them know I was ok. Their needs to love and comfort me were great and welcome. It was my mother who had only days ago told me "You are so fortunate that you have such a strong supportive family around you all the time." She was jealous but she was proud of me for what I had created even after everyone told me I could not.
I took them downstairs in what now seems in pairs to talk to each one of them and allow them to process their own feelings. This was not just my mother but their Grandmother as well. It was harder for the older ones that knew her better and even harder for the little ones that wanted to have the same feelings as the rest of us, but the innonce of youth and the lack of knowing her well would not allow it. So as a family, we went through this together. I saw Rosa taking care of her Father so that he could take care of me. I saw Jose take care of Rosa and so on and as I also try to do at the worst points in my life, I looked for the gift and found it. My mother was right, I had a strong supportive family around me and as we all helped one another get through this we also new it was New Year's Eve and life needed to continue as it does, like it or not, life goes on even in the moment of death, life goes on.
I don't really know what the next few days, weeks and months will hold for me but I do know that I will get through it and I am not alone. I have my rock Michael, Adam, Madison, Rosa, Jose, Maryanna, Leila, Joselyn, Francesca and Sarah, those that were there and many more that will be coming forward and through this I cannot help but feel blessed.
She was ready, I spoke to her only hours before she was gone and now she is at peace and life must go on. For tomorrow is another day, whether I like it or not.
JON HOLDEN GALLUCCIO, AUTHOR OF “AN AMERICAN FAMILY” WITH MICHAEL GALLUCCIO AND DAVID GROFF. HE HAS THREE CHILDREN AND THREE GRANDCHILDREN. HE RESIDES WITH MICHAEL AND TWO OF THEIR CHILDREN IN NORTH HALEDON. HE CAN BE CONTACTED AT WWW.GALLUCCIO.COM @njgayfamily ON TWITTER AND JON HOLDEN GALLUCCIO ON FACEBOOK.