I have a hard time talking about grief. I don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by talking about how I miss my mom, even though I’m 32, even though she’s been in the stars for two years (on Saturday), even though I think I should be more healed. Sometimes I don’t know how to express myself. I still get angry. I fucking hate cancer.
I can’t go into a hospital, even if it’s for a happy reason, without first giving myself a pep talk and no matter what, I wind up tears when I leave.
I can’t linger on pictures of my mom without tears flowing. Reading her notes, inscriptions in my books, or cards that I saved? As my Italian family would say, Fuggedaboutit. I mean, I can, but I wind up looking like Alice Cooper with mascara streaming down my face. I keep these things because I know someday I will need her words, to see her handwriting, to share them with my bonus daughters.
Little things still set me off: commercials about cancer treatments; any TV show/movie that deals with death or one that was a tradition for us (You’ve Got Mail; Love Actually; The Holiday). I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to watch those movies without sobbing, but maybe I’ll try one day.
I can, thankfully, verbally share memories, laugh over her silly sayings, stop myself when I hear myself sounding just like her. I don’t cry as much as I once did, thankfully, but when I do, it’s a monsoon and then I’m in a funk for a few days. Random memories will come to me throughout the day and when they do, they feel like she’s hugging me. She gave good hugs. I really miss her, more than I thought possible.
Believe it or not, I set out to write this post and share some of my favorite blog posts, articles and sayings that have helped me through the last two years, have made me feel less alone. If you’re out there, struggling, missing your parent or someone else close to you, I hope that you find momentary comfort in these links I’m sharing.
Why I Still Need My Mom. Favorite passage: “And for the moms who are watching from Heaven, we search for your guidance in our hearts and your absence is felt daily. Even though we wish we could hear your voice just one more time, we know that you are making our favorite cake in preparation for our glorious reunion and rocking our babies before you send them down to us.”
My Marriage Didn’t end When I Became A Widow. (Warning: you will cry when reading this. I sure did.) Why it resonated: I was appalled by the idea of leaving my mom alone once she passed. It took me awhile to realize she’s not her body, but even so, I still fret about it. Everything I did leading up to her memorial service and even now, is to keep her from being alone or to honor her, fulfill her wishes. (Thanks to Kathleen for sharing this on her blog last week. I’m so glad she did.)
On Grief. Several friends sent this to me when it first came out, and I read it, cried and then re-read it and cried some more. I keep it close and bookmarked as a reminder that it’s ok to be sad. That I grieve because my mom, her life, our friendship are worth grieving. Favorite passage is when she quotes Anne Lamott, coincidentally one of my mom’s favorite writers: “We Christians like to think death is a major change of address, but in any case, the person will live fully again in your heart, at some point, and make you smile at the MOST inappropriate times. But their absence will also be a lifelong nightmare of homesickness for you”
I had a hard birth. While no, I haven’t had experience in childbearing, there’s a commonality to grief that I believe a lot of people fail to recognize, or expect of those grieving. For us to be grateful. For being here, standing, for the baby who is ok now, that the car wreck wasn’t as bad as it could have been, etc. etc. My favorite line from this post, pointed out to me by my dear friend Becky “Grief doesn’t negate gratitude.” Also this, “And a really great thing happens when I start telling the truth.” I tend to not answer truthfully when people ask how I’m doing, but maybe, just maybe I’ll start being more honest.
The Grievers Holiday Bill of Rights. I’m fortunate to go to a fabulous Church that recognizes that people struggle for a million different reasons during the holidays. They offer a Blue Christmas service each year and I finally summoned up the courage to go this year. As I sat there a total and complete blubbering mess as I lit a candle for my mom, wrote messages to be prayed over and listened to the words, I felt… relieved. There were others in that room wiping away tears, staring blankly at the pulpit and just being. We were one that evening. Our Pastor shared with us the Grievers Holiday Bill of Rights and I have to say, it was freeing to read them. So often when you’re struggling with things you try do what you believe you should do, or what’s expected of you… I learned it’s ok to do what I need to do. No apologies, no explanations. There’s something freeing in that.
I don’t have a way to wrap this post up into a neat and tidy bow because grief doesn’t work like that. Two years later I’m still sad. I still wish I had just one more minute with my mom. I still ask myself “what if” and “why her?”. I can’t do certain things, shop at certain stores, listen to certain songs, or eat certain foods without her. To all of you have been by me for the last few years, near and far, texts and cards, phone calls and packages, visits and chat sessions, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. I truly don’t know where I’d be without my support system.