Tag Archives: healing

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.

Scan 68

Us.

 

 

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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.

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