Today is the first anniversary of my mom’s death. In some ways it feels like forever ago, and in other ways it feels like 12 hours ago. As I was nursing Matthew at 1:51am this morning, I thought to myself, “this is a much better reason to be awake at this hour, on this day.” When he finished we both drifted back to sleep… until an hour later when he wanted to eat again! Although I wrote about the early process of my grief thoroughly, words really can’t express how much that one event broke my heart. But, at that moment in time I had my babies to keep me focused, especially the wee one in my belly that was relying on me to create his environment. I sucked it up and I went back to work two weeks later. And I say sucked it up, because that’s exactly how it went. I felt as though I could make two choices; 1- to let it destroy me, and 2- to be sad, but not dwell. My mom was gone, there was no changing it. My mom had enough guilt during her lifetime for things that she did, I didn’t want to think of her feeling bad, watching me suffer. That’s the last thing my mom would have wanted; for me to dwell.
So last night I didn’t cry; but I did get angry. I thought, “damn you mom for missing this.” Anger has been a big part of my grief. I guess because I feel that the whole situation is completely unfair, and unfair makes me angry. I am a fighter by nature. It isn’t in me to give up, to pack ‘er in and lock myself away crying all the time. It makes sense that I would approach death in this way also. I have always had a hard time understanding the people who don’t fight. I know that people are unique and I strongly believe that people should be given the space to do what they need to in order to work through their grief; but I don’t get it. And I would just like to add here that just because I don’t get it, that doesn’t mean I think it is not okay or unhealthy; I just don’t get it.
As well as being a fighter, I am a do’er. If something is bothering me, I try to find a solution, I might leave room for a little pity party, but there is some serious solution focused thinking that follows. I was already connected to a psychiatrist when my mom passed, I was fortunate in this because I was able to begin my grief work right away. I was ready to deal with it right away. I have said many times before that I am not patient and I sure as hell was not going to be patient with the kind of pain that I was in. People told me to be gentle with myself, to give it time. And with this encouragement, I felt that I did. During those first few months of grief work I was a very angry person. I saved all my energy for “being nice” for my work clients and my daughter. Everyone else got the fall out. Most people in my life were extremely understanding, others were not. To the others that were not, I don’t wish this experience upon them, but I do hope that they remember how harsh they were towards me when they go through this Hell. It’s interesting to me that people will tolerate someone being depressed, but not angry. Why do the angry grievers not get as much leeway as the criers? The emotion is coming from the same place. If I were crying instead of swearing would people have been nicer? Or would they have begun to not tolerate my crying all the time either. Reminds me of that movie The Beach when they move the injured guy into the bush so that no one has to hear his cries of pain. I get it. I hope that this experience allows me to show more compassion. Humans are interesting creatures.
Hitting the “events” of the last year has been challenging for me. My birthday, mother’s day, my mom’s birthday, Everly’s birthday, Matty’s shower, Matty’s birth (that was a toughie), Christmas; it’s when I most notice that she is not physically here to celebrate with anymore. I saw my mom once every few weeks, and never for any huge length of time, so I wasn’t used to seeing her a ton. A lot of the time she didn’t have a phone, so I didn’t get used to talking with her on the phone all the time either. One moron suggested that this should make my grieving easier, you know, since I wasn’t used to her being a major part of my daily life. Well, thank you for that tidbit moron, I will now invite you to kiss my ass once you pull your head out of your own. Seriously that was the stupidest thing that anyone has ever said to me. But, heart-warming story aside, I was used to seeing her at every event during the last two years of her life, so her absence has been noticed.
It was only in these last few years that my mom really cleaned up her life. Until then she was in and out for nearly 20 years. Some of that time I didn’t even know where she was, and some of that time I didn’t care to. Only when I became pregnant did I really start to rebuild a relationship with her. She saw Everly as her chance to do things over properly. So, more so than the “events,” I miss her when I want to call her and tell her what one of the kids did. I feel so achingly sad when I can’t just pick up the phone and call her to say, “mom- Evie said the funniest thing today,” or “mom- Matty is rolling over and sitting up.” The things that these children do, although quite mundane, would have lit up her life. I know this because I watch how they light up the lives of their remaining grandparents.More than anyone my mom would have got a kick out of Everly’s crafts or how she sits down to “read” books. My mom was collecting books for her, and craft kits, in the hopes that one day they would use these things together. There are also the moments that I have with my daughter. Those times when we are cuddling, reading, cooking, shopping; doing fun things and enjoying each others company. I always wonder if I had similar ones with my mom. I have positive memories of her; of her challenging my spelling and teaching me the rules of glitter. I would love to have just 30 minutes to talk to her, to ask her. I would ask her what her dreams were for me and if I made her proud. These were conversations that we didn’t really get to have. People have told me that she is watching, that she sees these things, and that I can talk to her anytime I want. And I guess that’s a nice thought, but it’s not super comforting to me because try as I might, I can’t get the air to talk back.
I thought I saw her in a crowd at Superstore. Isn’t that weird. I saw a woman from behind and I was like, what’s mom doing at Superstore? And then the woman turned around. Doh, mom’s dead, she’s not at Superstore idiot. I thought I saw her at Chapters when I was Christmas shopping too! I think it takes our brains a little while to phase out noticing someone in a crowd. Or at least my sleep deprived brain. And as crazy as it sounds there are times when I do feel like she is with me. I dream of her often and she tells me things. During one such dream, I asked here where she was living and she told me Jaclyn at Chris. So of course when I got up I Google mapped this location and it turned up she is quite close; in Puget Sound to be exact. Is it possible that she was telling me her drifted ashes have made it here from Mexico? Wouldn’t that be fun. Oh brain, you keep me laughing and on my toes.
For Christmas my dad and I visited her grave site. I left her a Christmas card, a photo of the kids with Santa and a Christmas tree ornament that Everly and I had made together. Oh how she would have treasured that ornament. I left everything there in an extra large Ziploc bag so that this nasty West Coast rain wouldn’t destroy it. The thought of it decomposing just didn’t sit well with me. Oh the irony. We were only there for a few minutes. What else could we do but drop our stuff and go, it’s not like she has furniture set out for company or margaritas ready to go in the blender.