Some of my earlier posts after mom died seem surreal to me now. I was reasonable and sensible. I wrote the obituary. I wrote about what it felt like to lose her. I moved through a myriad of details. I picked up her remains/aka ashes, planned a memorial, created a memorial DVD and prepared for family to come.
I was also in shock. I see that now.
When my son was born and the midwives laid him on my chest, I kept repeating, he’s so tiny, as if it was some kind of mystery. What was I expecting from my fully pregnant 128-pound frame and a basketball-size belly? A 9 pound baby?
I was not in denial about mom dying nearly as much as I was about the size of my newborn.
I prepared for two decades for mom’s death. I have written here about the goodbyes we said, the letters I wrote, the appreciation expressed, the letting go, and the agonizing process of forgiveness.
Why was I shocked? And remain that way. Is it because we argued that last day? She seemed so okay and I was preparing for and making my peace with the possibility of another year or two with mom, dealing with the drama of taking care of her. I was also seeking to find a way to balance my life: thus that last argument about whether or not she should move.
But did I kiss her when I left that day? I always kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her. That day was different. Did I tell her I loved her? I don’t remember. It haunts me, those little details that others might scoff at and say, get over it. Move on.
The family came and left, her things got stored or dispersed, the paperwork remains.
I settled into the process of grieving. I thought I’d stop writing the blog, but readers encouraged me to continue. The writing of it is what heals me.
A blogger friend, Maggie May, writes about her postpartum depression, sick baby, teenage and adolescent children. It’s raw and gritty and real and poetic and beautiful. She, in turn, gives me courage to tell the truth about grief.
It’s complicated. It’s not easy or predictable or easily defined. It’s not what you expect.
This weekend we stayed with friends an hour from our home for the weekend. I was grouchy when I arrived and they commented on it. But we moved on. It was a weekend to be up and happy.
At breakfast we talked about how we always kiss our mates goodbye. She said, “You just never know if you are going to see them again.” I put my face in my hands and wept. In understanding, husband said, “Another wave.” I recovered and the conversation moved to other topics.
Later we packed for a foray into the mountains near their home. We traveled for eight hours over bumpy roads looking at scenery and searching for wildlife. We went to a high mountain meadow covered in purple wildflowers and took photos and laughed at our dogs. We ate apples and almond butter and commented on the four-wheelers who had torn a track through the meadow.
We moved down the mountain and sat by a stream that had washed out a road. Then turned around and headed another direction–to explore another washed out road. I was restless but remained centered on what we were doing. But it was instructive.
Although I was on the journey with them, I was on a solitary journey of my own.
For now I want to isolate, squat in my garden, pull weeds, close out everyone else’s needs and wants and desires and frustrations and guilts and sorrows and griefs while I get through my own so I might be of some use later.
Taking care of mom took a toll I am just now fully realizing. The caregiving, the anticipated grief for nearly two decades, the working through the enmeshment and anger from the past and the redemptive work we undertook was exhausting.
And now the journey of recovery. It may not look the way others expect it to look; it may not have a smooth predictable trajectory that others may expect. It may not be profound or pretty. But just as I used to say to husband that the story I told about taking care of mom is the story that happened, that is all I can do now.