Gwenn Bream Drum: 10.18.34-12.15.16
I am stunned… I am numb… I am grateful… and I am devastated. I got the call from your best friend shortly after she found you still in bed, still in your pajamas (you know… the black and white leopard print with hot pink piping). She said you had died. What? How was that possible? You were supposed to be coming down to our house to spend Christmas with us… I had *just* said the words “this could be her last Christmas with us”, but never believed that we didn’t have more time, more holidays, more years.
I had spoken with you on Tuesday morning. We talked for an hour about how much you enjoyed your HS holiday party on Thursday, how much you loved singing with the Adelines, how much it meant to you to sing for others and bring them joy, and how much you were looking forward to coming to MD for Christmas. You gently reminded me to plan some time to shop together and told me how excited you were to have lunch with Kati at Iron Rooster. You told me about everything that was going on in your life, but you didn’t tell me anything that would make me worry, nothing that would draw attention to any problems that might be popping up. I heard all the happy, good, lovely, shiny details, but I completely missed the dark, scary side of things. I didn’t really ask the questions for which I didn’t want to know the answers… I still expected you to be my mum… I still thought we had time…
You didn’t tell me that you were having serious trouble seeing, that your macular degeneration was getting significantly worse… because that might force my hand into taking your car (and your independence) away. I didn’t know that you’d told your friend not to let me know how serious that problem had become… and that you probably shouldn’t have driven down to our house to fly to Florida at Thanksgiving. There’s so much that I wish I’d known, yet I know that you were simply doing what you always did… you protected me from seeing things that might be upsetting or change my vision of you. You did your best to let me be your child for just a little longer. You didn’t want me to see the problems you were having because that might have changed our relationship forever.
I listened to this special woman tell me the story of what happened, the night before you died. She told me of those few moments of pause that caused her to take you to the ER… she told me about the tests they ran and the concerns that were addressed… and she told me that you turned to her as you walked into the house and, with a smile, said “I feel so much better” before going inside. Those were the last words she heard you speak… she left three messages on your answering machine the next morning to check on you, not knowing that you were already gone. When she came to check on you, the door was closed, which concerned her. You weren’t in your chair when she used her key and opened the front door, which made alarms go off in her head. She walked into your bedroom and found you laying on your side, looking to all the world that you were peacefully sleeping, when you were actually gone from this world. I thank God that she was the one who found you. She called 911… she waited with you for the ambulance… she called me… she waited for the coroner… you would be so proud of the love she showed as your dear friend, in making sure that you weren’t left alone. I’m so grateful that she was your “person”… she embodied that role in the best possible way, and I will always remember to honor her.
I hope that you know how much I appreciate all you did to raise me to be the wife, mother, and woman I am today. For better or for worse, your life was the one that was most familiar to me when I was trying to find my way in the world. You taught me to cook (thank GOD) and to follow my heart. You taught me to cherish those I love and to respect those from whom I would learn. Whether I was to follow or to divert, you were my role model and I am so grateful that you were my mother.
You gave me my roots, in family, friends, and Camp Robin Hood… and you gave me my wings, by allowing me to become my own person and make my own mistakes. There are times when I glance at my hands and see yours… times when something pops out of my mouth and I just *know* that it originated with you… times when those around me say that I’m just like you. Occasionally, I shrink from that comparison because there are things that you’ve done in your life that I don’t want to repeat, but most times I am proud to be the embodiment of you… your daughter.
I’m proud to have a mom who cared deeply for her family, her friends, her commitments, and her faith. I’m proud that people remember how caring and loving you were to those in your life. I’m even a little proud that you were able to leave this world on your own terms and in your own way. Maybe it wasn’t exactly when you wanted to leave us, but I do take comfort in the idea that you’re now whole, and happy, and having a “healthy scotch” with your sisters again.
Rest easy, Mum… we’ll take things from here as we sing to your memory:
There is a Magic Something, camp so dear
That fills our hearts with laughter all the year
Every girl who’s been here
Has that something in her
It is the spirit of Camp Robin Hood.