One

While much has changed in a year, much has remained the same. The everydayness of life has continued on – working hard, relaxing, a little playing, laughing. She, herself, would admit 2016 was a difficult year. “Yet, you cannot let these instances govern your life,” she would undoubtedly say.

It is exactly one year since my mom passed away. The last few days of her life were long and hard. Simply, you knew her time was very, very short. Only she knew when was when. Both Laurie and Andrea, after long hours at work, would stop by for nearly 30-45 minutes to visit with her and dad.  A little worry had crept into their voices. It was expected since we were talking family.

With her concerns increasing, Laurie consulted with her geriatrics professor from medical school. His advice was sound, “you’re doing well by keeping her comfortable much as possible.” Laurie wished she could do more. When her and Andrea asked if she was okay, mom would always reply, “Yes, I’m okay. I feel fine.” We were pretty sure she was trying to allay our worries and concerns.

In the year since, it has taken some time to adjust. We’ve had our moments when we said, “make a mental note and tell mom later.” Or, the girls saying, “we need to call grandma and tell her what happened.” Then, in a flash, we remember. Moreover, we are glad mom’s passing seems not to have affected dad a great deal. If it has, he’s not telling but we know he misses her much.

While our counting of days phase is largely behind us, mom would be very glad that we have remembered her. Hopefully, she won’t ask if we learned anything from the counting.

Love you, miss you.
xo

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Remembering

By Lauren Westin, MD

Sitting at my desk late last night, tying off the loose ends of the day’s work, it dawned on me it has been two years. It seems like yesterday when David called early that morning saying we needed to talk, and not over the phone. Yet, it does seem to have happened long ago.

In the hectic of Friday’s “everyday busy”, not a thought of mom came to mind – not even the anniversary of her passing. I know she would say it’s time to set it aside. “No more sadness.” Instead, concentrate on your family, concentrate on your patients. She would not expect any less. However, I felt bad at that moment last night. I should have remembered earlier, but I didn’t. Both Andrea and David said I shouldn’t beat myself up over this. They’re right, but I did.

from the one

Tara called her grandpa early this morning and they chatted awhile before heading out to ride with Deborah and Elizabeth. Afterwards, I talked with dad. He said it was okay. Mom is imprinted on all of us, in our thoughts, our deeds and our words. Staying true to your values is remembering and honoring mom to the highest degree.

It was the reaffirmation I needed.

Love you, mom.

Laurie
xo

About the author

Lauren Westin is a practicing trauma surgeon with University of Colorado Health, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She holds certifications in trauma surgery, trauma medicine and microsurgery.

 

Remembrances & Thoughts

By Lauren Westin, MD

It has been a year since the passing of my mom. A day does not pass when I take pause to think of her, or wonder what she would be doing today. There are moments when I can still hear her voice calling me in for dinner. Or, giving reassurance when I needed it badly. They are things you remember the most. While I’ve been blessed with an excellent memory, there are a few things I’d rather not remember – like getting in trouble for tossing a garter snake into Cindy’s (my sister) bed. While Cindy and I can laugh about it now, Cindy wasn’t happy when I did it. And, mom, saying she was disappointed with my behavior would be an understatement.

But, of course, we all grow up, become more responsible. And, hopefully, gain some wisdom along the way. Mom had wisdom. She knew all of us, Tom, Cindy and I, had potential and the possibilities of life were endless. Her wisdom to us was “to follow the goodness in our hearts“. If we do, all will flow from it, with God at our side. There, we would find our calling and place in life. A cynic’s view would label this as nothing more than a nice sentiment, but mom lived it and practiced it daily. To her, civility, kindness and manners mattered. These were her values. They became mine.

I have practiced her values, albeit imperfectly, in my own personal life. Yet, I have impressed upon my daughter, Tara, to have and practice her grandma’s values. They are of worth, and they will define you as a person – in your heart, in your soul. What others think does not matter. Determination is essential, but not to the point where it hardens and steals away your heart and soul.

Professionally, mom’s wisdom and values have served me well. In trauma medicine, it is practiced in minutes and seconds. In the most critical cases, acting quickly and decisively is imperative. It is equally, if not more, important to have a human connectedness when so much is at stake. To reassure and instill hope is just as valuable as the technology and skill in these moments.

In the end, it is about caring for those you love the most and keep close to your heart. And, it is about keeping your promises to them. I thank my mom for teaching life is more than a series of vignettes but rather is a mosaic created by the hand of God.

Mom, I love you and miss you so much.

Laurie
xo

 

About the author

Lauren Westin is a practicing trauma surgeon with University of Colorado Health, and an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She holds certifications in trauma surgery, trauma medicine and microsurgery.

 

Note

The original tribute, “I Cross My Heart“, to Laurie’s mom, Margaret Westin, can be read here.