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On Losing My Mother

I can’t believe it has been almost a year. I’ve had to relearn everything I have ever thought or been taught about grief. There is no timetable, no easily defined linear stages – I cycle through them daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes by the minute.

People are starting to tell me they are worried about me, why am I not getting back to my life, picking up and moving on.  I know they are trying to be supportive, sending me stupid poems about death, and grief, and moving on. If you want to give me a poem, let it be a good one. Tennyson, Auden or Dickinson, or maybe Frost.  Not some sentimental, poorly written claptrap. They give me well-intentioned advice, suggestions that sometimes make me think, “do you know me at all?” No, I’m not going to move, start over somewhere else, despite the fact that you think that it would be easier for me away from all the places and things and reminders. Did it ever occur to you that these things, the familiarity, may be a comfort to me?

Wrapping myself in the afghan she made, sipping cocoa from her favorite mug, the one with the music notes and the chip in the lip I have to watch out for. Using her kitchen utensils, sitting in her favorite chair reading from the light of her hideously ugly country frilly lamp, and eating off her blue and white stoneware dishes are like she is here, just for a minute.

Sometimes it feels like last week, and other times, it feels like forever since I heard her voice. I feel ashamed that I can’t remember clearly what it sounded like. I can’t believe I can’t find a single piece of video with her on it. The only ones I have found of myself are the very early childhood ones made on Dad’s old camera that has the old fashioned reels with the tape that you have to watch with a projector. A few assorted tapes with various choir concerts and musicals from high school, a few embarrassing comments on family wedding videos. Nothing of us together that I know about, at least not which has sound. What I would give to have that.

Grief is funny. I think I am finally starting to heal, and then something happens or I unexpectedly come across a trigger that sends me spiraling back into the depths of the dark, choppy ocean of grief. Coming across her favorite candy in the candy aisle, a woman walking by wearing her favored perfume, or a puzzle by her favorite artist she didn’t have. I had it into my cart and was 3 aisles down at Michael’s before it hit me that you aren’t here, that I don’t need to buy her a birthday present this year, and never will again. She’ll never see seventy, will miss every future family milestone. None of that matters as it crashes into me again that you are gone, here, now, as I return the puzzle to the shelf with tears running down my face.

How long will it be before I get news, either good or bad, and pick up the phone before I realize that she won’t answer? I have good days and bad days. I never know when I wake up what kind of day it is going to be. Sometimes I have to remind myself she’s gone, she isn’t going to walk through the door or call to me from her bed, that was the center of her existence for most of that last horrible year? I mean, her ashes are right there on the mantel. My brain just conveniently forgets.

I want to heal. But I am terrified that I will forget the little things. I’ve started keeping lists of the things that remind me of her, and why. I can’t bring myself to watch her favorite shows, the ones we always watched together, but as I think of them I write down her favorite episodes, to watch later, when things aren’t so raw. Pictures have become a comfort. I thought we would have more time. I didn’t say nearly everything I needed to. Things at the end happened so fast. They told us a month after she came home on hospice. Two days later, she left us. All I have now are mementos and memories. 


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 18th, 2017 06:01 am (UTC)

Heartbreaking...and beautifully written.  I can so relate to all of the feelings as my dad just passed ... Heal in your own time. Take comfort in what you need to.  Only you know whsat you need and don't let anyone tell you what to do "better."

Good luck!

Feb. 18th, 2017 09:41 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry it's still so difficult. There is no fixed timeline for grieving. It usually is hardest for at least a year, but it can take longer. One friend pulled away from the world after her mother died, and it took about three years before she started to be more like herself again. Four or five years later, all of those little memories of her mother bring a wistful happiness instead of just pain.

The things you're doing now are all necessary in helping you cope, and what you're gathering toward the future will surely help when you're ready.

Feb. 19th, 2017 07:23 pm (UTC)
Yes to your other friends comments. I can relate. And people don't know what to say so they end up saying or sending that poem or this poem that seems to empty and out of whack to what we're feeling at the time, but I tried to keep in mind that it was their way of trying to help as a friend who loves me. It will take as long as it takes. My mother will be gone 10 years on the 23rd and there are days when a memory pops up and I get weepy (and I didn't have the typical mother-daughter, growing up together relationship). After their divorce, she got to see her children from noon until 7 p.m. the first Saturday of the month and that was it...my father was a mean bastard, but still, she's my mother and I miss her and will always miss her. So Becky...you do what is best for YOU. Do what YOU need. And remember while some of us may be TRYING to help, we may be doing the wrong thing and not know it, but I think I would've felt worse IF my friends hadn't tried to do the same things...sending the poems or the trite conversations. I think it's wonderful that you do have possessions of things that bring you comfort. I have a few pictures and that is all. But, my memories are her to stay!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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