Tag Archives: grief

Year Four

4 Oct

One of the weird things I think about constantly is that October 4th used to just be a normal day for me. I lived for 27 years before October 4th was anything I thought about other than to write it on a check or a school paper that happened to be penned on that day. After four years with my mother gone it shocks me how terrified I still get counting down in late September to a day I have no control over.

It’s still just a day; maybe that is the worst part. For the last three years I have worked my schedule to get this day off work so I could find a safe place to be; a place where tears on a hairline trigger weren’t going to be out of place. This morning I went back to my posts from Day One and Year One and was struck by how everything below the surface feels exactly the same and yet I have become an entirely different person all around my grief.

It’s less scary. The sadness feels more purely like sadness now, without the anxiety of how I will get through a moment with her gone. I have gotten through thousands of moments without her now, not because I knew I could but just because I had to. The world doesn’t stop for grief, it barrels forward and at times I have gotten clipped by it when I wasn’t ready for that.

What has changed the most in four years is that I have found myself becoming more and more like her than I think I ever would have if she had been around. It was as if I subconsciously filled in the spaces where I so desperately needed her by doing what she would have done or trying to figure out what she would have said. I look for ways to be her so it feels more like she exists. Everything is for her and it always will be, but that has evolved naturally into doing things for myself too.

In four years I have figured out how to pay bills without her calling me to remind me. I have found a home in great friends and local theatre which I have never stopped being a part of. I find her in theatre every minute I am there and I still see her sweet loving face in the front row like I am six years old again in The Sound of Music singing “the sun has gone to bed and so must I”. I have found a relationship that lets me be independent and strong and I have learned how to not need a man but to simply be with one because I love him. I bought a three family house by myself and navigate being a landlord based largely on what I remember learning from her. I have found a career path in a field I love with a company I feel lucky to be a part of. I am closer with my aunt who steps in as one of my mommy stand ins when I need to talk to a mom.

I see in myself a woman who has a long way to go but I feel proud for maybe the first time ever that I got here with her lessons but not her.

She is still the person I want to talk to the most.

To my mother: You not being here is like living in a strange, dangerous place all alone. Your energy is everywhere and nowhere and I am constantly chasing you. I want to tell you that I miss you every minute because you were extraordinary. You were more than just my mother. You were vibrant and talented and kind and funny and brilliant and passionate and warm and all the things most women spend a lifetime striving to be just one of. Your big red hair and your beautiful smile are missing and I surround myself with photos of you so I can see them. You never gave yourself the credit of knowing how important you were to everyone.

I am terrified more today than ever before that my life moving forward will mean that you are further away.

You never said goodbye to me. I found out after you died that you had given moments to certain people where you said goodbye in your way. I was hurt for a while thinking you hadn’t had a moment like that with me. I was so convinced you would live that I was left paralyzed when you didn’t. Andy once told me that you had pushed me away those final weeks because I was someone you didn’t know how to say goodbye to. Maybe you knew I still needed you, or maybe you knew that you were my best friend. We had spent most of the previous 5 years with each other and you were the most important person in my world. Either way it’s ok that we didn’t have that moment. You left it so that all of our moments exist in a bubble of you living. I still sit in coffee shops and wish we could talk for 8 hours, I walk through cemeteries and talk to you. I pay my car insurance and say, “look mom, I did a thing”.

I try to love like you did and work like you did and sing like you did and cry like you did. I want to do everything with gusto and passion like you. So I will love like love is the only thing worth feeling. I will work like doing my best can always be bigger and my job is an extension of my soul. I will sing at the top of my lungs with the windows down at red lights even when people are looking. I will cry like the world is flooding when I am sad, but especially when I am happy or I see something beautiful.

I miss you. I love you. Thank you for all of it.

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Us.

 

 

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“From Inferno to Paradiso”

29 Jan

It’s been a crazy week. This has further proven to me that I’m a crazy person.

Monday, January 25 would have been my mothers 66th birthday; one of a few torturous days that used to be just a day and that now will be forever marked. I started feeling the effects of it days in advance, leaving groups of friends to weep uncontrollably in the bathroom and then gathering myself knowing I could be alright. I believed by early afternoon that day that I was going to get through the day itself alright and that the anticipation had worn out all my feelings. I was wrong.

After a lovely phone call with my Aunt, reminiscing about my bright, bubbly, effervescent mother I tumbled into a heartache so excruciating I could feel it in my bones. I lay in my study listening to Barbara Streisand and feeling my insides mush together like they were being shoved through a vice. I felt grief, as I often do, in the most acute way possible.

Sometimes I marvel at how commonplace that feeling has become for me. I feel it, I cry, I ache and my mind thrashes. Then, as though I am two separate people, I ease myself out of it. I remind myself that I am alright, that things are the same and I think about the positives in my life. I remember that I will feel that way again, possibly soon, and I accept it and take breathes in the moments I feel calm. I have learned though experience that I will come out the other side even though it feels at the time like sadness you never recover from.

I move forward.

Wednesday of this week was my Stepfather’s 66th birthday and I made sure to get the night off so I could spend it with him. We went to dinner with a friend of his, I got him his favorite cake and we all spent the night celebrating the ever wonderful Andy. He is such a satisfying person to do things for because he always acts so surprised that anyone has considered him at all. He is appreciative and fun and a joy to be around, so all of it was really most enjoyable for me I think. I would eat Indian food and Carrot Cake with him everyday if I could find an excuse.

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Andy’s first official selfie taken this past fall

Today I received an e-mail from Andy thanking me again for the birthday festivities and telling me that he felt “greatly loved and happier than I have been in some time”. The feeling is so mutual.

Having these two birthdays, which we as a family used to celebrate together, land so back to back had me wrecked with exhaustion this morning. I hardly slept all week and continue to feel something like a hangover of sorrow from Monday combined with a lovely high from Wednesday. I went to work tonight as scheduled and put on my usual public smile. One of my bosses even commented and said, “I’ve never seen you anything but bubbly”. The compliment combined with a friend visiting me at work, my coworkers all in good spirits, and a great comedy show, made for a nice shift.

On the drive home I felt overcome. I felt the ceaseless despair and the undeniable glee that both define my inner self constantly. I thought about each one separately and realized just how dramatic and wild it all is. I rarely feel anything that couldn’t qualify me for a Jane Austen novel or Nicholas Sparks film. I don’t just cry, I weep. I never feel good, I feel exuberant. I love deeply, give heartily, receive graciously and create passionately.

All of this comes from my mother; for better or worse.

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My shameless, fabulous mother owning the 90s aerobics scene

Tonight I feel grateful for all of it. Without living in the spirit crushing events of Monday I would hardly have been so thankful for all the love I felt on Wednesday. I don’t want to be someone who tries to stifle all the insanity, it makes me feel alive. My mother would want me to feel alive. I want to cry the way she did, so openly that she left nearby strangers worried. I want to love the way she did, so deeply that I risk everything. I want to find myself in the many moments I am blessed to have because I was raised by a women who was never ashamed to feel what she was feeling. I want to frighten and astonish everyone with my quirk and zeal and find inspiration in theirs.

I want my life to be madness; crazy, wonderful, unrestrained life that spreads from those I adore to others I meet. I’m sure that way I won’t have regrets and it will certainly make the January 25th’s feel more purposeful instead of just sad.

Note about the posting: I wrote this listening to Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 performed by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic (noteworthy for those who knew my mother well and for the title of the blog). This is dedicated to Morris, my mothers best friend, who wrote me a letter this week that made me feel like I could and should write again. His reaching out to me made an extraordinary difference in my drive and I’m so thankful.

Just One Mile

2 Aug

I returned home from an incredible trip to Europe and found that I had brought back a new woman. I felt confident, happy, capable and ready to take hold of my life. I was cast a major role in a play and a short film, my coworkers made me feel right back at home in a place I love to work, I reconnected deeply with friends and family at a beautiful service for my ever deserving grandmother. I took hold of my love life by cleaning house of all selfish, negative mooches and felt excited to be alone. Things were great, I was unstoppable.

The clue in to this flow of constant wins not lasting must be that I’m using the past tense to describe it all. The truth is, it was real, I am changed, I am happy; yet no trip or event or play could hide the gaping hole I have without my mother. It’s the broken record of my writing, “my mother died”, “time doesn’t heal”, “I need her”.

I talk about it less and less with a majority of people because I don’t want it to be the thing that defines me outwardly even though it is still the thing that defines me inwardly.

This unchanging and constant ache functions as both a motivation and an obstacle, it just depends on the day.

I started to fluctuate heavily between productive days and motionless days. I call it a motionless day because I lay still for entire days sometimes. I get up to find food or shower and my body feels immobilized and heavy. My head swims, I consider fighting it and going outside but I can’t on these days and I just lay back down and go to sleep. On the good days I explore my talents through acting, comedy, auditions for new roles, sewing classes a countless sea of friends I get to call my family, dates with one of the kindest men I’ve ever met and an intensely active social life. I am a force.

I’m not one to get caught in a cycle so manic or unreasonable. I overthink everything and in this case it stopped me in my tracks to look from the outside at how dramatic the daily shifts were.

The answer, it turns out, is small for now. Find the balance each day, on high days, find moments to to grieve, cry and feel. Listening to music in the car, calling Lisa or hugging the cat a little too long are all good options. On the low days, find just one thing to do that makes me feel proud. Not productive, not happy, it’s more than that, it’s about pride.

Today I woke up and thought about a presentation my friend Cait gave this past week about running. I could see and feel her pride and I remembered how much I used to feel that when I ran. So at 7:00 am, instead of going back to sleep for two hours before my day had to start I lept out of bed, threw on my gym clothes and said out loud, “I will run one mile. I will not stop.” It’s amazing how much can happen in a mile.

The first few blocks I felt incredible. The weather was sunny, dry with a slight breeze; summer had never created a morning so perfect.

When I got to about a 1/4 mile my lungs felt like they were being lit on fire, suddenly the sun was no longer my friend, he was the asshole in the sky turning my face into hot lava. I thought to myself, “I can run part of the mile and then walk the rest, I will still be active and I will still be proud” I made the executive decision that I was allowed to stop at any time I needed to because it was very clear I wasn’t going to make it a whole mile. I saw a funeral home and knew that I just had to make the one last block to get there and then my run could die. It was the appropriate place. Then I saw a sign a block past the funeral home (a “one way” sign to be exact) and I can’t explain it, but I knew could run just to that sign and then I was allowed to stop. I heard my mother telling me years ago that on her runs she used to do the same thing, “commit to one small block at a time and tell yourself you can stop whenever you want. Just to that big tree, then just to that cafe then just to that street sign and then before I knew what happened I had run all the way home.” I actually remember where I was sitting when she said that to me.

I was recommitted. I could make it to at least a 1/2 mile. Then as I ran past the liquor store an old homeless man was outside, I recognized him because he is often at that location and so I smile as I chugged by, gasping for air but still running. He looked at me, smiled back and then began to clap. He was actually applauding me. I leave room for the possibility that he was patronizing me, but it didn’t feel that way. It felt like the exact boost I needed and the universe and that man were giving it to me. I never lose sight of the fact that I have always been lucky in that way, or at least always willing to see things in life through that lens.

When I reached a 1/2 mile I knew I was going to do the whole thing. I still wanted to stop and things were starting to hurt more, but I knew it was a cop out to not make it. I woke up and thought “just one mile” so I couldn’t let myself down. I was determined to make this mean something; to make this the first mile of many more to come. I was changing the pattern of my life and nothing that big ever comes easily.

I needed to focus my attention on anything but the fact that I was still running. I saw fresh West End dog poop covered in flies and thought a few moments about how nice it was that they were so happy. Nature really does have a way of giving gifts in unexpected ways.

Then I felt a surge of nausea and instead of worrying I decided I would just barf if need be and then keep on running. I never did puke, but the pain in my stomach from poor life choices last night intensified. I said out loud, “physical pain is no more impossible to handle than any other pain, and you are the most capable girl I have ever known at handling pain. You know pain, you embrace pain and then you push through it and beat pain.” The diners outside the breakfast place must have seen a crazy, red, sweaty, crazy person talking to themselves and clawing for air. In my mind I decided to pretend like I looked like my running friend Cait, adorable and effortless. Imagination is a beautiful thing; all that mattered was how I saw myself.

I rounded the corner of my street knowing that my runkeeper would announce that I’d reached a mile at any moment. It happened under a beautiful shady tree just next door to home and the moment I heard it in my headphones I doubled over and burst into tears. I had given myself the opportunity to just let it out. I was sad, I was happy, but mostly I was proud.

I had traveled thousands of miles to start my new adventure and discovered almost as much within one half mile radius of my home. I see the value in both now.

In her presentation, Cait had mentioned that she took a photo on each of her runs while training for a marathon, and in the moment I was pondering this during my cooldown walk I saw it. The marquee at the theatre across the street from my apartment was my last sign. So here it is, the photo from my first of many more runs. It was only one mile today, but it was the first and it was the hardest and it was the best.

Ireland Day 1 (Swords and Dublin)

24 May

I landed in the Dublin airport in the mid afternoon after 15 hours of travel. One car ride, two flights, a train ride, two busses and a zillion security checks and I made it with minimal trouble or stress. As it turns out I’m a very calm traveler and I have my wits about me so none of it felt very tough. I take back everything I said before about Air France, they are classy as f***. Large, plush seats, complimentary campagne, unlimited booze, two meals including items like quinoa salad, brie and coconut cake) personal TVs on the back of each seat with on demand movies, television and music. The selection included many new releases so I watched the newest Hobbit movie and pretended I was flying to The Shire. To be fair, if I could compare the parts of Ireland I’ve seen in my first 24 hours to anywhere, it would be Middle Earth. 

My second flight was a little shadier. It was a tiny plane straight out of a trip from 1980 but I got to get cozy with a tiny old French man, so that’s a life experince I can check off. France from the air is spectacular; it looks like a beautiful patchwork quilt dotted with quaint neighborhoods. I also got very excited at the realization that I speak fluent French (I can only say hello, thank you, welcome, good bye, have a nice trip, and enjoy the food but those were the only things I needed to say in my 4 hours in Paris so that’s fluent in my mind).

For my first night I had booked a room at a B&B in a town called Swords just north of Dublin. The proprietor there was passive aggresive and seemingly sweet because she had to be, but I felt undertones of annoyance so I delt with her minimally. She directd me to a local pub called The Old Schoolhouse half a mile away in downtown Swords. It was everything I had pictured in an Irish pub. I was immediately friends with Dominic, an older Irish gentleman who was generous about purchasing Guinesses but knows nothing about where to eat actual food.  It seems like food in general isn’t often considered here, I went my first night with no dinner, but a beelly full of beer. The cute male bartenders were enjoying making jokes with me and I of course ate up all the attention I was getting. Dominic was introducing me to every person who came in and I got a much needed dose of salty old Irish men and great conversation. Everyone is so friendly and outgoing and I felt at home, realizing this trip is already just what I needed. I anticipated feeling scared and anxious, but I’m fast learning that this type of travel is right in my comfort zone. I love meeting new people, every new place is exciting, I enjoy my own company and I don’t mind getting a little lost.

I didn’t really plan any part of this trip, but I especially didn’t plan to land on what would have been my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. A few months ago she was talking to me about a big party; she always wanted a reason for a grand event. It’s not as though a 90th birthday isn’t reason to celebrate but at the time the thought of planning such a gathering was overwhelming with my busy work schedule. Now I look at where life has taken me and how much has changed in a short period of time and I’m a little sad thinking about the lack of a party and the lack of her. 

When I decided a week ago that I would get on a plane and land anywhere my first thought was to call her. My thoughts always used to be “call mom” and then “call Grandma.” After we lost my mother I spent months getting used to not being able to call her about everything. I still wish to call her constantly, but I have become more aware that I can’t; now I have to start all over again remembering that I can’t call my Grandmother. She had become the immediate replacement as my first call for news. To be fair, she was a worthy replacement for the spot as every bit of my life I shared with her was greeted with enthusiasm and fascination. She always told me that we had each other and I know for both of us time spent together was a small reprieve from missing my mom as we both found pieces of her in each other.

I know what both my mom and Grandma would have thought about me taking this trip; they would have been thrilled and terrified. I would have been made to stay in touch with them constantly. It’s amazing how much I miss their constant worrying; it’s a nice feeling to know someone can’t live without you. I’m checking in several times a day with Lisa, who has informed me if she goes too long without a word from me she will be contacting the embassy. 

The day I flew out was also the same day that Ireland voted on legalizing gay marriage. The day I landed my NPR app notified me that the yesses had it and in further reading I saw that in spite of being one of the most conservative and religious countries in Europe, 75% of voters in Dublin had been for it. The streets were lined with signs about voting for equality and the locals were all a buzz. It felt special to start my trip with such a positive historical event. When chatting with an older Irish gentleman in a pub he told me religiously he didn’t personally support it, but he was in favor of the yes vote because the choices of others weren’t for him to decide. He then also told me, as he chuckled, that he has always been in favor of two women together but was less thilled about thinking of two men together. Baby steps I suppose; if ignorant people choose to be in favor of equality because they can recognize that it is right in spite of their personal beliefs, that is a good start.

 

One of many displays in the small town of Swords, Ireland


Lessons Learned on Day 1

  • The drivers are always on the side of the road I don’t expect and they are mad men.
  • Don’t ever stand on the bus even if there is something to hold on to. The Bus Drivers are in their own version of the game Crazy Taxi and they start and stop like a Terrier on speed.
  • Everything in Paris is pretty and everyone there is likely better than me.
  • Irish toilets are tall so everything lands loudly in them.
  • Going out just to drink is referred to as “going on the piss” which I’ll keep saying long after I leave.
  • The bathroom is called “the jacks” and I still don’t know how to use it in a sentence.
  • Tomatoes are seved with breakfast grilled and it is crazy delicious.
  • Due to my attraction to redheads, accents and beards, I actually have too many cute guys to even know what to do. For now I’m happy to befriend the safe, older men who have good stories, pay for my beer and refuse to let me return the favor.

Year One

4 Oct

One year ago today I wrote about my mother’s passing on day one. Looking back I see that much has changed but the missing her has not lessened. My Uncle Michael said to my Aunt, “The hole in your heart will never go away, but over time it will hurt less to touch it”. I’m not there yet, but I do take some comfort in knowing that the first year is the toughest and I have conquered it with gusto.

Within the past year I molded my life into something that makes me happy everyday. The constant sadness just below the surface runs through me but does not tarnish the parts of my life containing joy. The hardest part about being happy is wanting to share everything with her. I do find things slightly less satisfying without her telling me how proud she is or seeing her face in an audience.

Knowing that I have to self-affirm and hear her from within myself is sort of like having a big salad for dinner. I know it’s healthy and I know I’ll feel better and stronger afterwords but it’s less instantly gratifying. I tire of hearing, “your mother is with you and you know what she would say”. Yes, that is true and the sentiment is appreciated if only for it’s good intention, but mostly I just want her. My frustration at her being always gone is tangible and it makes the air somehow harder to breathe; yet I keep breathing because I have to.

I appreciated my mother when she was around, always. She and I got an extra amount of quality time in, between my illness and hers. We got the unique opportunity to truly take care of each other for an extended period of time and every minute was just me with my very best friend. She once told me while sitting in the DMV, “You make everything so much fun. It’s a talent you’ve always had.” I felt the same way about her.

She was at almost all of my chemotherapy treatments and I was at almost all of hers. I loved them and I know she did too. How we took something so terrible and draining and turned it into days full of laughter and fun can only be explained by our magic. Last week I found myself back in a Cancer Treatment Center with my Grandmother, specifically the one where I had received my radiation treatments and I felt panicked. Sitting in that waiting room I saw all the sick people and I wanted to scream and cry and felt an overwhelming need to just get out. I thought at the time that I just couldn’t take any more hospitals or doctors offices and that is part of what I was feeling. Mostly though I realize it was that I wanted to be there with her. I saw people sitting in treatment chairs and getting their blood-work and eating their lunch from the cart that goes around the room and It was all so familiar but now missing from my life. I miss those terrible sandwiches and I miss getting myself a regular V8 and my mother a low sodium V8 and then watching her add salt packets to it (the most adorable sight to behold). I miss waiting hours to see a doctor and having it feel like minutes because we could always talk indefinitely. I miss being able to make everyone else in the treatment room smile with our infectious energy. No matter if either of us were struggling through the process, we kept each other afloat. We were unstoppable.

I think that’s why I believed she would never die. I got better right? I’m healthy and strong now because of her, so I believed that our love could heal anything. The reality is that my cancer was more treatable and that she fought as long as she could but she was dealt a poor hand.  I didn’t face that until after she was gone. I wanted her to fight more and didn’t allow myself to see how tired and weak she had become because I always saw her as the strong, capable and beautiful woman who raised me.

I see that woman even more clearly now. Her absence has given me the opportunity to re-frame and see her in a new light. Losing her thrust me into adulthood even though I thought I was already there; I look back at her now as a woman and she is forever my guide.

In this past year I have learned that chasing a career that I am passionate about is worth all my best efforts and I will never do anything else. I have learned that I am capable of a type of love and nurturing that I only ever knew in that magnitude from her. I learned that I am everything she ever said I was and knew I could be. I’ve learned that family is worth the extra time and that it can be found anywhere, especially in good friends. I have learned to ask for help and give myself time to be sad. I have learned that I can live without her but I am allowed to still feel like I can’t.

Us at the beginning.

Us at the beginning.

To my mother on the one year anniversary of her death: To think this world has seen a year without you feels unreal and impossible but I have missed you every moment. Today does not mark the time when this journey gets easier, because you are worth missing for a lifetime. Thank you for giving me passion from your life and in your passing. I love you, I love you, I love you forever.

The Night Before

3 Oct

One year ago right now I was home. I was getting ready for bed knowing that I might wake up in a world where my mother wasn’t alive. A part of me was hoping it would happen in the night so I wouldn’t have to sit in hospice watching her in a state I knew she’d have hated. If it had felt like my choice I never would have spent even a moment in that hospice room. I was told that I would regret not spending the final days with her, and that she might need me there.

That was bullshit.

The person I saw when I first got there was someone in so much pain that she couldn’t even recognize me. I left the room and sat in the hallway just outside the door. From inside her room I could hear her constant moaning and the nurse trying to reassure her that the medication would kick in soon. I wanted to run away. I was there because someone else had told me it was shameful that I didn’t want to be. I felt guilty and angry and horrified. Mostly I felt helpless. My grandmother arrived shortly after and I warned her not to go into the room just yet, trying to spare her the scene I will have forever burned in my memory.

My mother was in that room for only a few days. My aunt and sister rushed home and we all spent hours sitting around her bed. The days were endless so we would quietly chat or work on addressing Ricca and Shane’s save-the-date cards. We played Mahler, my mothers favorite composer, bouncing from symphony to symphony to convince ourselves she had something pleasurable. She slept; she had been asleep since the nurse had calmed her writhing that first day and they kept her comfortable until the end.

My aunt and step-father were dutiful. They were there first thing in the morning and I think even late into the night. I’m actually not sure how long they were there because I stayed 4 or 5 hours and could not take any more. I couldn’t be the one who put lip balm on her to keep her mouth from drying. I couldn’t talk to her like she could hear me or sit there for hours hoping that it was helpful in some way. That woman wasn’t her anymore and I resented all of it. I am grateful that my aunt and step-father could be there. Maybe having them there did comfort her, but I know my mother well enough to hear the advice she would have given me. It took me until after she died to push out all the other voices, all telling me what I should do regarding my own mother’s death; then there was just my voice and hers saying, “Go live your life.”

Of course the thing I’ve learned is that her voice and mine are one in the same now. I think like her, talk like her, make decisions based on what I know she would do and I live my life with her spirit and gumption. I’m angry that I allowed other people to sway me to choose something that wasn’t right for me. I wish I could erase the person I saw in that hospice bed or the hours I spent frozen in horror at the whole scene.

Tomorrow I will wake up and it will be just like a year ago; still living in a world where she is gone. I will have done that 365 times and somehow the repetition hasn’t healed the wound yet. I will get up and go live my life and strive to remember her as alive, glowing and vibrant. That is what she would want, and now more importantly I realize that it is what I want, and that is what really matters.

My mother the constant ham

My mother the constant ham

Grief.

14 Jul

My mother died.

Everyone knows. I say it to people I’ve only known a short while because it is so a part of my reality I feel it’s impossible to hold it in. I make people uncomfortable by blurting it out in a conversation about groceries or the weather or their dog. Everything makes me think of her.

I talk to her. I call out to her daily knowing she will not respond and still feel panic and grief when nothing comes back. Am I sensing that the air around me feels warm because I need her to be there or is she really there?

If I talked about my unending sadness as often as I feel it, I would wear thin the generosity of those in my life who I know would never stop listening. Some days I want to talk about it the entire day, cry and scream with someone else there. I am not sure why someone else being there would comfort me but it would. I don’t know how to ask for this type of support because having to verbalize my need for it degrades its constance. Saying the words, “I need to talk about my mother” feel obvious and weighted. Nobody would ever say no, but I cannot ask.

I scream alone, I cry so hard that I emit guttural sounds that alarm even me. If someone else were there to see it, to accept it, to hold me and encourage my screaming I might feel better. When I weep in solitude it feels like an effort to connect with her, to smell her, to feel her big red hair engulfing me, to sense her presence. I feel her everywhere and nowhere all at once and it takes my breath away.

My sister got married this past weekend. Her wedding, her dress, how incredibly beautiful she looked all exceeded my expectations. She was perfect, he is perfect for her and every moment was so effortlessly “them”. Their friends, the food, the venue, the ceremony, it was all this beautiful reflection of how happy they are and although I knew it would be an emotional time, I didn’t know I would feel it so deeply. We all cried the whole day. We cried because we were happy and we cried because we were sad. My mother would have sobbed the entire day; nobody I have ever known cried so many tears of joy as she did. A few stray notes from a symphony or a hug from a loved one could hairline trigger her tears.

During the ceremony the officiant announced they were lighting a candle to honor my mother. I knew about it beforehand but apparently not the timing of it and I was so overcome with grief I felt I wanted to run away. Instead I cried uncontrollably in front of everyone. Seeing dozens of guests sympathy and personal sorrow while I stood on display made it more impossible to get my weeping under control. My eyes searched the scene for anything, I don’t know what I was looking for but I found my sisters face and she found mine and for a moment we both reached out our hands. I have never loved a person more than I loved her in that instant.

It was knowing that she and I understood the loss in the same way and moreover, that we were in this together. That connection with each other would have made my mother weep with joy.

This week I need my mommy. The world is an intensely scary place.

I am an adult. I am an adult. I am an adult. Right? Some days I am charged by a motivating force and I can accomplish anything I tackle. I want to make my mother proud and show her that she doesn’t have to worry, I am doing it. Other days I am a six-year-old lost on the beach, frantically looking for my mothers umbrella. The waterfront is long and the people on the sand are dense. All I can do it search under the dozens of umbrellas I think are my mother, feeling I will never find her. I need to find her because she is my mom, an everyday concept I never and always took for granted when I had her.

I read a book by Ann Hood called Comfort; it is about her passage through grief after losing her 5-year-old daughter. Although I couldn’t relate every experience that came from her specific loss, I couldn’t put the book down. I have never read a whole book in a day, until now.

In the prologue the first sentence is, “Time heals.” Reading that arrangement of letters on the page I found myself wanting to trust that it was true. I read it over and over with purposeful breathing willing myself to believe it. If time heals then some day I will ache less.

On page 133 a chapter begins with, “Time doesn’t heal.”

I suddenly felt that Ann had betrayed me. She had lied to me and was taking it all back; I could no longer believe that someday I might be lighter again. It doesn’t surprise me how quickly I let go of the original phrase from the prologue, somewhere in my mind I knew it was never true. Yet the latter sentence made me feel better; it let me know that if I miss my mother this much every single day forever, that is okay. I am allowed to feel emptiness and fear, I will even admit that I want to feel those things. The idea that I will never get over this makes her special and she was incredibly special.

I do not remember the good in my mother because she is gone, I remember it because it is all that she was; good. Even the things we used to fight about or the times when she made me cuckoo came entirely from her goodness. We would fight about a bill I had neglected or I would get mad when she gave me advice I didn’t want to hear. That was just her being a mother, caring for me and guiding me through life. It made me insane that she didn’t get out enough or that she held on to so many things in her house. Tiny, curled up her on the couch with a book and a pen to mark the words that moved her or write he thoughts in the margins. There are shelves of books with pages containing bits of her and her experiences with novels she read over and over. She would wrap up one bite of food to save for later if she didn’t finish it so that she wouldn’t waste even one morsel and tall glasses with one sip filled the fridge in her house. It’s too much for that to be gone. To open the ice box at my parents home and see normal leftover portions or the lack of a phone call to yell at me about a parking ticket is a loss of so much good.

I want to write forever to tell about how extraordinary she was. If I can just make others see what the world has lost then somehow I will find her, or feel it less. How can people not feel the difference in the energy the earth is missing? I want to shake strangers and say, “Don’t you sense that?! The air from the world is gone and you act like everything is the same.” The best way I’ve ever read this sentiment came from an article in the New Yorker written by a girl with an experience so similar to mine I now reread the article regularly. She says, “A man was out on the street walking his dog. I stared at him, waiting for some sign of acknowledgement that the fundamentals of life had changed. He kept on strolling, of course. How stupid of me, to think that everyone knew.”

These times occur when the normal everyday stresses of life seem so petty and cumbersome on top of my grief that it all spills over. I have to still push forward, find joy, work hard and live fully in spite of this void.  Some days I hope that “time heals” and on others I know that “time doesn’t heal”. I will navigate the eternal struggle and even find comfort in knowing I loved someone that much.  I am grounded and managing in the unalterable reality that strikes me time and again. My mother died.

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