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Part 1: I Smell Toxins

2016 September 16
by Mia

Note: I’ve started writing about my Mom’s last two weeks by my side.  Not sure if I’ll continue, and if so, into much detail….really listening from within to answer those questions.  


September has been a whirlwind of activity and schedules. I now must keep a “cheat sheet” card in the car to ensure I am where I am supposed to be each day.

Both kids have been in school for 6.5 days. New school clothes have been purchased. Stylish haircuts were given. Forms, form and more forms were signed. The morning sun is sleeping in until 6:15am. The evening temps are dropping to the 50s.

This is my season. All of the colors that a redhead can wear. And all of the pumpkin a redhead can consume. Soon, I will be walking through piles of golden yellow and burnt orange leaves on the way to the bus stop. This is my season.

And yet, sadness continues to sit in my heart. For we are inching closer to the 1 year anniversary of losing my dear Mom. Forty more days and I can no longer say “a year ago we were together”.

A year ago September, we were shopping at Iviva for back-to-school leggings. I was distracted by two daughters who wanted the same leggings but didn’t want to be twins. Too distracted to think something was off when my Mom sat quietly near the mannequin with her eyes partially closed.

A year ago September, we walked hastily to lunch. My fast stride keeping up with the children, while motioning to my Mom to hurry up.  I chalked up her slower pace to her bad knee.

A year ago September, we attended a memorial service together.  We found my Mom a comfortable chair at the reception where she was greeted by old friends.  I assumed she was emotionally tired having said a final farewell to a dear family friend.

A year ago September, Mom sat at our dining room table for the last time.  I was consumed with kitchen duties and entertaining the family and that I didn’t notice her discomfort until she stood up to go home (a clear signal that something was off, as she left before dessert).

Glennon Melton Doyle writes about us sensitive souls as being the “canary in the mine and you need my sensitivity because I can smell toxins in the air that you can’t smell, see trouble you don’t see and sense danger you don’t feel.”  I’ve used this analogy more times to explain that my deep sensitivity is actually a good thing…I smell toxins that are odorless to others.

I’m the canary in the family, yet I failed to tweet my warnings last September. When I saw Mom a few days later after that final Sunday night dinner, the danger signals were flashing and sirens were going off.  She could not stand up straight.  Her balance was off.  She looked tired. It was that moment that my eyes opened and I knew…

Toxins.  I smell toxins.

Two weeks.  My canary senses were off for just a two week window.  And in that time, I managed to miss the most important signals of all.  The ones that might have saved her.


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