Excerpt For You

By: Lauren Thaler  |  Date: October 19th, 2011  |  Category: On Being Parentless  |  Comments: 3 comments »

Hi Blog Friends,

This post is an excerpt from something I’m working on. I’m not sure what final form it will take, but I hope you enjoy the sneak peek. I welcome any feedback.

Unfortunately, I’ll be posting more sporadically across the next several months because work and life are speeding up. I always love to hear from you, however, so feel free to reach out whenever you feel like it!

Until next time,




It was a Saturday evening in late January, two weeks after my 28th birthday. Like the months leading up to this day, we were waiting.  There was, however, one distinct difference. After the 10 agonizing months that preceded this night – 10 months of never knowing what was around the corner no matter how many patient doctors we gripped on to – the night my mom died, I had a 10-page booklet with enumerated steps of what to expect. It was called “A Guide to Death and Dying,” and when the hospice nurse had placed it in my lap several days prior, I was dumbfounded.

After experiencing the duration of a disease marked by so many more questions than answers, I was shocked to learn that the medical community had enough material about the passage from life to death to write a book about it. But after I took a deep breath, opened to page 1 and started reading, I felt relief. Finally, more answers than questions. Finally, something to rely on.

This guide was the reason why, when the guttural noise my mom had been making for the last several days stopped for a full 5 seconds, I knew she would die within the next 20 minutes.

I don’t remember what I was wearing that night, and I don’t remember what the weather was like. I don’t remember how many people came into her bedroom for that final moment, and I don’t exactly remember the words I whispered into her ear as her breathing came to a stop. What I do remember is the strong and steady web of women’s arms and hands around my mom – My two hands holding her left hand. Debbie, with her left arm wrapped around my shoulders, and her right hand, palm up, supporting Mom’s left arm. Rhona, another one of Mom’s oldest friends, across from us, both arms outstretched, her hands gently resting on Mom’s right arm. And Aunt Judy, Mom’s only sister, hands resting softly at Mom’s right side.

When her breathing stopped, I dropped to the absolute depths of loneliness. There is no other way to describe it. It was the most terrifying, unadulterated feeling of loneliness, immediately causing my teeth to chatter and my body to shake. My parents were dead, and I was alone.

But I was only alone for a microsecond.  Because what I remember just as clearly as my teeth chattering and my body shaking is my best friend from college, standing behind me with her hands firmly placed on my shoulders. She was either trying to contain my shakes or join me, creating a conduit for them to leave my body. And then Rhona’s arms were around me too, and I grabbed Debbie and Aunt Judy, and we all held on to each other, still surrounding my mom and watching her just as intently as we had for the entirety of her illness. I watched her slip away, and, at the same time, I watched the women around me come into focus with more clarity than ever before.


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3 Reader Comments

  1. Cara

    This is incredible, it brought me right into the room with you and took me to the depths of your despair and pain as you lost your mom…and then made me feel surrounded by the love of the women around you that day.
    Whatever form this ends up taking I definitely want to read more!
    Your gift with words helps people release the grief, pain and sadness they feel. You are blessed with a strong ability to give relief by giving a voice to what others feel.

  2. Amy

    You are truly blessed to have these women in your life, Lauren!

  3. Kathy Leichter

    Dear Lauren,

    I am so happy to have led you to my friend Allison’s book, and just as
    thankful that you chose to share The Infinity Game with me. I read the
    excerpt you shared from your forthcoming project and was deeply moved by
    the raw beauty and honesty with which you described both the devastation of
    losing your mother, and the healing love of the women surrounding you. I
    know how difficult it can be to share these experiences, and also how
    liberating it is for ourselves and others who find some comfort in these

    I did not have the chance to prepare for my mother’s passing. But making
    HERE ONE DAY and connecting with people like yourself on
    http://www.HereOneDayBlog.com, has helped me a lot. Together we are
    creating a vibrant on-line community of support. We are breaking some of
    the silence and shattering taboos about mother-loss, suicide, and mental illness.

    Please help us spread the word about HERE ONE DAY in any way you can.
    Perhaps you would write something about it on your blog? And do stay in
    touch with me by signing up for my monthly newsletter. That way, I can
    keep you updated on our journey to complete HERE ONE DAY and you can
    follow the film and attend a screening as HERE ONE DAY soars out into the

    You can sign up for my newsletter here: http://ow.ly/6fGk5

    With gratitude,

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