Arlene M. Woodbridge
August 29, 1946 – December 25, 2008
My Mom hadn’t been feeling well since last summer. She had no energy, was tired all of the time, and couldn’t eat. She was terrible about going to the doctor so she didn’t go for a long time. She finally went and had a ton of tests but they couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong with her. About 7 weeks ago, she was unable to breathe and was hospitalized. At that point they found a mass in her lung and she was diagnosed with lung cancer. After she got out of the hospital she was placed on medical leave from work and my brother John took care of her.
For almost all of November I was waiting for a call to tell me to come immediately. But Mom started to do better and John said I should just plan on coming for Christmas as I originally intended.
On Monday December 22nd my Mom was readmitted to the hospital after a very difficult weekend at home. This was the day before I was scheduled to arrive. I traveled up on the 23rd, spoke to my Mother on the phone at the hospital and went to bed.
On December 24th, me, my two brothers, John and Dylan, and my daughter spent the afternoon at the hospital with my Mother. I was shocked at the change in her from the last time I had seen her 9 months earlier. John had mentally prepared me but it was very difficult to not break down, which I did not want to do in front of my Mom or my daughter.
We met with the Doctor, who explained the severity of my Mother’s condition. They were planning on releasing her on Friday the 26th and my brothers and I needed to discuss how we were going to care for her because we did not want her to be in a nursing home. She didn’t have a long time left because she was not strong enough for chemo but we thought at least a couple of months. I was upset about my Mom spending Christmas in the hospital but knew we just needed to make the best of it.
We left the hospital and planned to return the next morning to spend Christmas with her. Instead we received a phone call from the Doctor at 3:30am Christmas morning telling us that my Mother had passed away…
I am not a very religious person and don’t really care for many holidays but I do like Christmas – it just seems like this was the worst day this could have possibly happened. Christmas is also my brother Dylan’s birthday – he turned 22.
We went back to bed and had my daughter open her gifts like any other Christmas morning. But later we had to talk to the funeral home, call relatives (it’s not much fun to call Aunts and cousins that you never talk to on Christmas to tell them someone has died) and make the arrangements. My brothers and I had never done this before and muddled through the best that we could.
I had planned on making my Mom’s last Christmas as special as possible. I did not prepare myself for planning and attending her funeral.
The funeral was on Monday December 29th. Originally, I was going to come home that day but came home the 31st instead.
I think I am still in a state of shock. I knew my Mother only had months left but it was so sudden. I am grateful, however, that I got to spend a day with her before it happened. It’s almost as if she were waiting to see my daughter and me before she let go.
My Mother was only 62 years old. If you’re young, that might seem old but believe me it isn’t. My grandfather, my mother’s father, lived 30 years longer than that.
I don’t feel ready to not have a Mom. I loved her very very much.
Here is her obituary from the Caledonian-Record in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
I am leaving comments open but please don’t feel obligated to write anything. I am not even sure if I should have posted this but I needed to write it. If you think this is inappropriate, I apologize in advance.
Beth J. Bates says
Kim, I am so sorry to hear about your mom. I’ve recently experienced a death in the family and I know how hard it is. I’m still dealing with the grief. Let yourself feel what you need to feel. Think about the wonderful times that you had with your mom and how much love and joy she brought to you and your family. Our thoughts are with you during this difficult time and please let me know if there is anything that I can do. All the best – Beth
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Betsy Wuebker says
Kim, I saw your tweet on this post. I am so sorry for your loss. It is especially hard during the holidays. My mother died in December years ago, and there was no equilibrium for a long time. Without grief, we wouldn’t be able to gauge our joy, so perhaps you may find anew the blessings in the season in the future. For now, just know you are in the thoughts of many.
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Mike Nichols says
Kim, please accept my deepest condolences for the death of your mother. I am glad you got to spend a little amount of time with her.
I know you are still in a state of shock over it all, compounded by the dissonance between what you expected your “vacation” to be and what it turned out to be.
My mother passed away almost ten years ago, and I think about her daily. As time goes by, the memories tend toward the happier events and less of the not so pleasant ones.
My thoughts are with you, Alexandra, and your family as you go through this difficult time. I feel powerless to help you, but if there is anything I can do, I stand ready to do it…don’t be afraid to ask!
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Stacey Monk says
I am so very sorry. I can’t even imagine how much grief you and your family must be experiencing at a time that should be so joyful.
Thanks so much for sharing this post with us. When Josh died, I wanted to shout from the rooftops: “stop. just stop everything. my brother died – can’t you see? the whole world is different today, less beautiful because he’s not in it.” of course, now i still see him everywhere, especially in the face of his daughter…just as all the most beautiful parts of your Mom still live in you.
I wish you and your family all the best that the New Year has to give.
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Jonathan Gellert says
Dear Kim, There are no words to prepare for such a loss but I want you to know that my heart is swelling with empathy. You have done a very courages thing to share and i applaud you. I lost my father also to cancer maybe 4 yeears ago. I do not memorialize his death only his life and to be honest I’m still not ready to not have my father. I know that we are really only new friends in essence but we share something that I wish we did not. I try every day I miss him to remind myself that no matter what happens we all return to the cosmos no matter how hard we try but it is not the length of time we have but what we do with today that matters. Christmas is a sucky time but as I said try not to memorialize her passing but celebrate her life. I choose to have a little private celebration for my dad on his birthday but I never remember his death day. Things like death always happen fast and its always a surprise and there is no preperation so dont feel surprise at not being ready. all I can say is first of all my heart is with you and John and Dylan(also my sons name) and I am feeling for you guys so much. I was fortunate enought o be able to spend the last 2 days of my fathers life with him and just before he died he and I had a little conversation he asked me how much time do you think I have son? and I said You have all the time you need dad my brother showed up from North carolina a few minutes later and we spent an hour together my two sisters and my surviving brother myself my mom and my dad. with all my family there I decided to take a quick break and run down the hill from the hospitol to see my son then 8 years old. i was gone for less than 45 minutes when i got a call from my om telling me my dad had closed his eyes and passed. The moral of this story is you always have the time you need but you don’t always get the time you want so make the most of each day. I make a point to say I love you to my sone and my mother and my fiance every day even when space and time are against me. The year I lost my father my marriage also ended 2 months later and 4 months after that my son moved with his mother 169 miles away. I only canpromise that life goes on and you will be ok as ling as you remember to cherush what you had, remember what you have and be open to new friends. Even though we do not really know each other I send you my love and my empathy and my friendship. I am with you in spirit and I choose to believe that our parents always watch over us as theur parents did before them and I hope that one day I hopefully a long long time from now I get to tell my father in the afterlife if in fact there is one how much he meant to me because I say it now and again to the air when I’m alone just in case he can hear me. I am thinking of you and John and Dylan and I hope nothing I have said is inappropriate but I speak from my heart. Be well. Your friend Jonathan
David Coveney says
I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It’s spookily close to my grandmother’s (who I lived with at the time and was my carer) lung cancer, which within a week of diagnosis took her from us all aged just 63.
It was difficult to deal with, alarming on many levels, but a little like your mum she’d lived just long enough to see me into my first job and pay packet. Six months earlier and it could have really messed me up while finishing school and exams.
In retrospect I could see that she’d been quite ill for around a year but the diagnosis came too late and only after the issue had been forced by me with the local healthcare lot.
You did the right thing to post about it – it’s the nature of the web that whilst what do is transient, everything we post today will be recorded for ever. What better memorial could a web geek like you create!
I am so sorry to hear this. My thoughts are with you and your family.
I don’t think anyone is ever ready to lose their mom. I lost mine when I was 23 and it’s a rough road. My heartfelt condolences.
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Kim, I’m so sorry. There are no words, but please know that you and your family are in my thoughts.
Oh Kim, I am so sorry and so glad you decided to share this with us. My heart hurts for you and I wish there was something tangible I could do to help you through this. Please know that my thoughts are with you.
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Annie Anderson says
I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is difficult enough – losing one at Christmas is unimaginable to me. Please accept my sincerest condolences and know you’re in my thoughts.
I lost my dad almost 10 years ago and that was hard but I can’t even begin to think what it might feel like losing my mom. I’m sure I’ll wish the whole would just stop for a long while and let me get it together.
Words fail at times like these. I wish there was a magic word that could just take it all away. All I can say is, take time for yourself. Let yourself grieve and heal in your own time, on your own terms.
And love and hug those around you every chance you get.
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Ajith Edassery says
When I didn’t hear from you via Twitter and on your blog, I thought you were having a wonderful Christmas vacation this time. I am really sorry to hear that everything wasn’t going good.
A lot of people from this part of the world believe that somebody parting with us on holy and religious days is auspicious and such souls go to heavens. May her soul rest in peace and please accept my hearty condolences
I just thought about my mother whom I have not visited for 10 months now :( Only when they are not in this world, we realize the great values that they have taught us and a life dedicated to bring us up…
Vered - MomGrind says
There’s nothing inappropriate about this post, Kim. This blog is your professional *and personal* outlet. I’m glad you wrote. Writing always helps, even if just a little.
I am so sorry for your loss. As much as I love the internet, this is one of those times when I feel helpless because I can’t actually be there for you, physically, as I would be for my real-life friends.
I’m so sorry.
I am so sorry for your loss. You told me stories about your mom and talked about her so nicely, I almost felt like I knew her. Please let me know if you need anything.
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Mark Cahill says
So sorry Kim…you and your family are in my thoughts an prayers.
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Kim — I’m so sorry for your loss. My thoughts are with you —
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Sommer Green & Clean Mom says
I think after reading the comments, your writing this post has helped other people talk about what they are feeling. Death is something we all have to deal with and deal with differently. It’s good to open up and talk about it and sometimes your pain, can help others cope. Just knowing there are people similar to yourself is helpful. I’m glad you wrote this.
I’m so sorry you HAD to write it though. I just lost my grandmother and it is still very raw. Christmas and New Years was very emotional. I don’t have any pointer for getting through the pain, you just have to go through it…feel it and not deny it. However, I have found that it does ease with time. Everyone says it but it does.
I know you aren’t religious but God Bless you and your mother. She sounds like a great lady.
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It’s absolutely ok that you published this poignant tribute to your mom.
Just know that you’ve got a lot of folks in this community who are sending our thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
If there is anything we can do, please just ask.
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I just had Goosebumps while reading this post. No more comments.
Hi Kim: I’m so sorry to read about your mother’s passing, and 62 is young. I’ll second Raju’s comment: I also had goosebumps while reading this post.
Kim, I am so sorry for your loss. I am never sure what to say when this sort of thing happens. You think it would be easier when sitting at a keyboard and having the time to gather your thoughts, but it isn’t. I just feel that whatever I say would sound inept and couldn’t possible make you feel better. 62 is such a young age and that would make it more traumatic. Once again I am truly sorry.
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Kim I am truly sorry for your loss. Seems like Christmas has a special meaning for you. There are moment’s in one’s life that change him and the world he knew forever. I guess this is one of yours. I wish you overcome it and (although the gap is still there) keep going. My prayers are with you and your daughter.
Kim Woodbridge says
@Everyone – Thank you! I’m not going to reply individually the way that I usually do but I really appreciate your kindness and support.
Thanks to Sommer for encouraging me to post this – this morning I wasn’t sure if I was going to or not. I also really liked what Ajith said about dying on a holy day in his culture – I found that especially comforting.
You guys are the best.
Kim, I am sorry to hear about your loss. May God give you the courage to go through this difficult time.
Please accept my deepest condolences for the loss of your mother. And yes 62 is very, very young. Though I am only 30, I don’t think anyone is truly “old”. My father lost his mother at the age of 63 and father at 42. I lost a cousin at 33, and baby boy before he was able to take his first breath into the world. Regardless if the person was 115 or 0, its still a major loss. Take care of yourself – you will be in my thoughts.
Dee Langdon - BloggerNewbie says
I am so sorry for your loss and pain. There are no words, there is nothing anyone can do. i am so sorry.
Cath Lawson says
Hi Kim – I’m so sorry. Your mom was so young and I don’t blame you for not wanting to lose her. You look a lot like her.
Christmas must have been difficult for you – you’re being so brave about it all.
I’m so sorry to hear of your loss and I wish you the best in this tough time. It’s always so painful to lose a loved one, and I can’t even imagine losing a mom… Take care.
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Kim, my heart goes out to you. So sorry for your loss.
And of course this is not an inappropriate post, it is a loving memoriam.
I wish there were something real I could do to help you. I will be thinking about you in this very difficult time.
Your little girl is adorable, by the way, what a little joy she looks to be. And a treaure to have that photo with your mom.
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Kim, so sorry about your mama’s loss. I hope the Almighty Jehovah keeps you strong during these difficult times. And i hope (if you believe the bible) you do find comfort in the scriptures of the hope of resurrection including 1 Corinthians 15: 13-28; Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10; Act 24:15; John 5: 21, 28,29; Mathew 5:5. Be blessed.
Madhur Kapoor says
I am very sorry to hear about your loss Kim. One of my aunt died last year due to cancer and i can understand the pain that you must be going through. My prayers are with you and your family
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So much sad to hear that. Sometimes I don’t feel death is necessary. I know I sound ridic. but you see all bad folks out there living longer that those who deserve life more. just my 2 cents
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I am so sorry about your mom. Your relationship with her sounds like me and my mom, even that she was your website’s biggest fan. You must be devastated. Although I barely know you, my heart goes out to you.
Kim. I’m so sorry to hear about your mother. So sorry.
Thank you for feeling you could share it on your blog.
My thoughts to you and your family.
Kim Woodbridge says
@Everyone – Thanks again! I’m amazed at the number of comments on this post. I really appreciate it.
Julie Walraven says
Kim, I was so far behind on reading e-mails (which is how your blog comes to me) and I just read this now. I knew your mom was sick but not how sick. My prayers are with you and your family. You are right, she was very young. My dad died at 81 almost two years ago and my husband’s mom died in July but she was 86. There’s nothing any of us can say to alleviate your pain. It is a loss and you need to grieve that loss. But treasure the memories and I am sure you have many. Even though it was hard at Christmas, it was good that you were able to be there at the end. Take care of yourself and touch base when you want to.
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Kim, this is so far from being inappropriate to post.I know we talked through twitter today but I’ve only had a day of knowing my mom has cancer. The biggest fear I have is the thought of not having a mom. I hold it together because I think she needs to see me and have me be positive, but it scares the hell out of me. She is the last of three siblings – her brother and sister both died of cancer. I wish it were different for you. 62 is still young. I am so sorry for you. For some reason, we know eventually our parents will die before us, but it always seems too soon to happen. I almost lost her last year when she had a serious bout of pancreatitis and stayed in the hospital for 62 days – I think I would go beserk if I have to face that soon. My mom is my strength and my friend.
Please take care of yourself. Thanks for telling me what you did in your DM. It did help today. It just happened that I found out right when all my friends/hubby are all gone/out of town plus I just moved to a new city. So, I was all alone when I heard the news and have had no one to really talk to about it.
Wishing you well
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Ari Herzog says
My father died unexpectedly in 1995. While the situations are different, I can relate to losing a parent. *hugs*
If you feel like chatting, you know how to reach me.
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Kim Woodbridge says
I’m really sorry about your Mom Tawnya.
Ari, I read about your Dad on your 7 things article. I’m sorry – it must have been so shocking.
oh wow Kim, so sorry to hear about the passing with your mom. i’m glad though you did share with your readers, we can also be a source of comfort in addition to your real life family
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Barbara Swafford says
Dear Kim, As I read this post I realized how hard it must have been to put your thoughts and feelings into words. My heart goes out to you.
Having lost both of my parents, I can empathize with you. Your post has been a great reminder for all of us to treasure the time we have left with those we care about and to let them know we love them.
I’ll keep you in my prayers. As you go through the grieving process, if you’re ever in the need for an ear, please feel free to email me.
My sympathies go out to you and your family.
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Kikolani | Poetry, Photography, Blogging says
I know it comes late, but I am so sorry for your loss, especially through the holidays. It is good that you got to spend that time with her beforehand… I’m sure that did make it a very special Christmastime for her.
Again, I’m so sorry for your loss.
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