A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Walking On The Moon

I'm stuck somewhere in grief that I don't know how to escape. I'm eating too much. I'm not working out enough. I'm tired. It's a real physical tired that is debilitating. I have laid down almost every night before dinner and just slept, or laid in my bed and surfed Facebook or just laid there doing nothing.

I can't shake the oppressive weight of this thing. It's laying on me like a fallout blanket, smothering me in lead that doesn't let in anything, or let anything out.

It's making me question everything and everone, feel isolated, feel annoyed and separate. It also makes me just not care. I feel like all of my choices are wrong. I feel like I don't have choices also. Duplicity in my own anxiety is good times.

My friend laid in bed watching Voyager and doing not much for probably a year after her mom died. I didn't understand it then. I felt the urge to say "Your mom wouldn't want you to do this." I wish people would fight the urge to say it to me, I know my mom wouldn't want me to curl up into a ball and die. I'm not talking about feelings and physical effects that are a choice. I understand it now.


That part fails as I roll over with tears streaming down my face, immobilized by the blanket of grief.

I'm not feeling like self harming, I don't want to be dead. I don't want anyone else to be dead. So no worries there. I'm not seeking escape even. I'm just...devastated. Like a city that's been bombed. I'm blown apart. I'm flattened. I'm in pieces all around, small broken pieces that won't ever go back together again.

I struggle even talking about how I feel with the people who love me, I struggle writing it down. I feel like I sound crazy. I'm not crazy. I'm grieving. I'm allowed to grieve. I guess there is a part of me that never equated grieving with so much pain. I thought I'd felt it all when Chuck died last year, I thought I knew what pain was.

I didn't begin to know.

I'm going to start today making a serious effort to shove this away from me. I don't know what else to do. It's the moments of inaction that  overwhelm me the hardest so minimizing those is something I am going to need to do. And despite the fact that I might not actually have much to say, I need to be closer to and in more contact with the people I love. I need to seek out normal, and go through the motions until it IS normal again.

I feel like my life stopped on September First and every single day since then has been me watching someone else be me. Even when there have been good days, I haven't felt them or truly enjoyed them. I'm missing my own life. I want to be back inside my own skin.

Wish me luck.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Protest Is Futile

Perhaps the only reason I have children is so that I can get through this time in my life. It's 10:37 am and I haven't cried once despite having twice reached for my phone to call mom. I also processed the thought "Is Mom at the nursing home or at Matt's?" before I remembered.

I would like to have devolved into blubbering, sloppy snotty tears, but you see life was busy with me. Charlie was chewing something. Charlie had not been fed for two hours. Food? What is it you're eating Charlie?

Charlie has become candy obsessed. I've been up since a bit before 8 am and every moment I was "occupied" ie - changing a diaper, in the bathroom, stepping outside to dump coffee grounds on my roses, my Charlie had raced into the kitchen, gotten into the cabinet and then the candy bowl and eaten as much mini candy bar as he possibly could.

My guess is that he's up to 10 today.

Yesterday he not only raided the candy bars, he also seems to have consumed about 4 praline pecans that are so sweet they make my blood sugar soar and I get the shakes. Charlie is an eating machine. I fed him a nice big breakfast and he ate nearly all of it. Plus a chocolate milk.

The quest for sweets is insatiable, however. I'll see him, sitting innocently with puffed out cheeks full of chocolate, and chocolate around his mouth and say "Charlie, are you eating candy?" And omg - he LIES. "NO." I ask again, "Charlie - are you eating candy?" And he admits it. "Yeah." I suppose I should celebrate learning to lie maybe? I'm not sure. That's some kind of development right?

Thus, my desire to devolve into a blubbering mess is thwarted by an actual need to keep my child out of a diabetic coma.

I've hidden the candy. I've warned the oldest child to be on the lookout for random noises from the kitchen, it means we've got a mouse named Charlie. I can't even think about this too hard. We're going to have to get cabinet locks for real - what if it was poison he was running off to eat?

Good grief.

I don't even know. But I know we're going to have to do something.

Well, it's keeping me too busy to cry. That's a plus.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

If I Had Wings I'd Leave The Ground

I did really well for four days. On Monday I got on a airplane and traveled to Montreal and I did a lot of stuff. I got to visit with a good friend and eat lots of amazing food. We drank too much beer. I also did a ton of work and everything was really extremely good for four days.

For four solid days I only cried one time, I read most of a book, watched movies and reveled in being outside of my own reality for a while. I can stop being me for a while, or the version of me that lives a real life. I can be someone else, someone I didn't become, Or a version of me that doesn't get out of the box very often perhaps.
It was good to get away. It was hard on my family for me not to be here as always. It wasn't an easy trip as some of what I had to do wasn't great. But it was good to get away.

Then I came home.

And my mom was still dead.

I'm not special. My grief is not special. It's not unique in any way except it's mine and it's unfathomable in it's depth and it's complete devastation of how I feel. 100 times a day I think of something I want to tell my mom because my mom always at the very least pretended to be interested in the things I had to say. When the baths have been given and I settle down for a cold drink after doing whatever, I would call my mom. Now I pick up my phone and look at it. It's a well of silence. Empty space in the universe which once contained someone who loved me so completely and unconditionally, even when I started wearing red lipstick that she thought was only appropriate for streetwalkers and old women.

I want to remember every minute of the past 46 years and put them on film and watch them over and over, remembering every moment when my mom was awesome or not awesome, just the moments that my mom WAS.

Except that if I do that, I'm going to stop living my own life, the one she gave me.

I don't know how to break out of this mourning. This is why people wear black and cover mirrors and shit. Because that is how this feels. Dark, non-reflective and unending, it's without question the worst thing that ever happened to me. But it didn't happen to me. It happened to my mom. I am a by stander to the event and my grief is some by product I can't understand or control.

I start crying at dinner. I sit on the sofa and cry for no reason. I wake up in the night and cry.

Well there is a reason. My mother is dead. That's the reason.

Maybe I should go into mourning. Wear black. Condemn myself to being unhappy for a year. Maybe then after a year of self imposed misery I'd come out of it gladly. Maybe then I could sustain happy for more than four days.

I could stop crying at the dinner table, perhaps.

I am pretty sure that would go into the WIN category for everyone.

Until then, apologies in advance. I'm sorry, I really can't help it.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

It Looks Like Home To Me Alright

I pause in my self absorbed, grief stricken wailing to bring you...muffins.

I take off tomorrow to a place that according to Weather.com will be both cold and rainy. I'm gonna be away from my loves for three days - well three nights, not returning until Thursday around dinner time. I felt like I had to make my last day at home a good one, a FUN one.

They're only Martha White "just add milk" cheapie muffins. They aren't amazing and fresh fruit doesn't burst from them as you take bites. But as they bake the fill the house with amazing good smells. I had crept down the stairs while Louis played some Star Wars game and Miles watched YOUTUBE, and mixed them up. About the time I was ready to take them out of the oven a parade of humans came down the stairs "What's that smell? Are you BAKING!?" they all filed into the kitchen.

That's right, I stirred in milk and baked for you. Behold my domestic prowess.

It was the official start of football and with mom about to step away for most of the week we sent dad packing to go watch the Colts get their asses handed to them.

We on the other hand decided to renew our tradition of heading out for a picnic on Daddy's Day Off.
We filled our picnic basket with lunchy items and treats and headed to the nature center. The area where we like to picnic was FULL of people doing the zipline courses so we headed over to the watershed area and found some shade.

We had stopped by the candy shop before we got there and everyone got to choose one special treat for today.
After that it was time to do some exploring even though it's a path we know pretty well.

The nature center by us has a watershed and a water reclamation path you can walk and see how they use the water for the plants, the toilets, everything that isn't the bit where humans touch it. It's pretty interesting.
We followed the path, my four children chattering nonstop about everything and nothing along the way.
I had this great talk yesterday with one of my oldest friends. She lost her mom six years ago, and walked a similar but I think even worse path with her own mom, one of terminal illness and the hell that comes with it for the patient as well as the survivors. We're both strong will girls from moms who believed we could do anything, be anything, and never let us think otherwise. I think we're also girls who never conceived of a world without our moms.

She knows what I'm feeling. She's been there, done that. Thank god there isn't a tee shirt.

She and I took different paths in our lives, but both of stayed true to who we were and are. I look at her with so much admiration for all she's survived and managed to prosper through. She's a credit to her mom who I know was so proud of her - and would be more so every day were she still here. Our conversation gave me hope, and it gave me strength I forgot I had.

So I had this day today where I didn't cry, but I put my energy and time into my little pieces of my own mother's immortality. Her smile, her silly sense of humor, her creativity, her love of coffee, all the things that came down through my 23 chromosomes that now lives in my four children - those things got my energy today. It felt good to see her all day long in little things and little places.

I realize my love of this farmhouse is just another piece of my mother. After all, that's a just a saltbox with a porch on it - amirite? My mother always wanted a saltbox house.

I am.

Today's been a good day. Next up - time to make some pizza and spend time together before we all get ready for bed.

Tomorrow I fly north into what appears to be cold and rain.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Dreaming Dreams Of What Used To Be

I never really spent much time considering my mother's funeral in terms of what it would be like. I suppose that's mostly because it wasn't something I wanted to think about for any damn reason, ever. That's probably dumb, because most people end up burying their parents so it's probably a good thing to have given it some thought. I on the other hand only ever knew one thing about my mom's funeral.

We had to play the song.

Since I was a small girl, when the song came on the radio my mom would say "When I die, I want this song to be played at my funeral. I want it to be LOUD - I want the church to SHAKE. And everyone has to sing and dance and celebrate me. I LOVE this song."

The song was SPIRIT IN THE SKY. What that meant was for the past 40 something years any time that song came on I'd get a lump in my throat considering the mortality of my own mother. It never really seemed possible. My mom wasn't going to die, I certainly wasn't going to play that damn song.

And then our mom did die.
This is our "we're smiling bcse we're not sure what to do" funeral photo of us all together.

We went with cremation and while I was ambivalent but OK with it when Matt and I discussed it, I realized how much that decision helped me when I walked into the church. I've been in funeral homes and churches many times with the dead. Sometimes they were people I loved. Sometimes they were random people my Grandma or Grandpa knew and we were "calling" because that's what you do. But having said that, and seen all that, I know that had I been required to stand in a room with my mother's dead body I would probably have had a nervous breakdown. I slip close to a breakdown when I even consider it too much.

The home where Dad lives arranged for him to be able to be there with us.

We got a quick pic of him with us and his girl grandchildren when he arrived. He did a great job really, despite being sad. He recognized people and had conversations with everyone. I was so glad he was there, it seemed unnatural to me that a husband not be at his wife's funeral. I guess this is something that nursing homes have to deal with and getting him there wasn't a problem at all.

The people who came were the people we loved. There were pictures for everyone to see of her with her family and this great slide show with so many wonderful pictures. Those of us in the know howled because there were some great pictures included, they just happened to be photos from "the camp" where dad was for a few years. We called those "awkward family photos" since not everyone has family photos taken inside a federal prison facility.

Yes we were actually laughing at the funeral. It was oddly wonderful like that.

Some of my best friends in the world were able to come, I didn't get a photo of everyone but after the family dinner I got one of three of the people who aren't friends, but the family I choose. They're people I have known since forever and who maybe see me once a year although Jeff hasn't seen me in years and years. They're the people I still love fiercely, and who know me better than people who see me every day. When we sat down to eat Tim looked at me and said "You're shaking eat some protein." It's probably been 20 years since we've talked about my low blood sugar. I was amazed.
I had warned everyone I knew about the playing of the song, and after the lovely doddering old minister who was a bit Pythonesque (honestly I loved this dude, if I dropped dead right now I'd want him because he was both sweet AND funny) and the case of the dangling repairman's legs out the window (thanks for doing work during my mother's funeral) I stood up and announced that we were going to honor our mother's wish.

She'd told me when I was home that she though April's church might be a good place to do her funeral because of the sound system. She'd given me the thumbs up sign and a smile when she said it. So there we were on a early Friday afternoon, and I stood before a gathering of friends and family and announced that we were going to dance and sing - and I gave the guy in the alcove the thumbs up.

He didn't disappoint.

My entire life I thought that dancing and singing upon my mother's death wasn't something I could or would ever do. There are all sorts of funeral rituals around the world and I've read some weird things people do to honor their parents. I've always wondered how they manage, how do you do it? How can you do ANYTHING when your parent has died?

What I learned is that when it's the last thing you can do for them, it's not so hard. I danced, I sang, I cried a little but very little. I made Pete dance with me. It's what my mom wanted. She spent our whole life preparing us for the day that we had to deal with her being dead, and she gave us a song to celebrate her life and to make it a moment where we smiled and laughed.

The song wasn't for her. It was for us. I never once realized that until it was over. It was the last thing she ever gave us as our mother, but it was powerful and important. It changed the day into a sad but also somehow wonderful day, it was an amazing gift.

After we ate a meal prepared by Christian women (nod to Steel Magnolias) the family ended up wandering into the church's gym and then something else wonderful happened. Everyone ended  up playing volleyball.
Everyone laughed and squealed and played, and it was just this amazing thing that wasn't planned but just happened as naturally as can be.

With that we'd done our obligations as children, as humans, as residents of this planet, by honoring our mother the best we could and giving her what we promised. I realized much later she had said she wanted balloons and I totally forgot all about it. I figure she'd forgive me. We'd hugged the people we loved and had been reminded what family means to us. And we played the song.

The song that was for us, and not actually for her at all.
I share it with you now. It's the best thing my mother ever gave me.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

...but I Don't Know Where To Start

There's a lot of work to do to get ready for a funeral. There's the funeral work. My brother did that. He asked me a lot of questions, getting my opinion. Luckily, being raised by the same mother we're in sync with so many things that it wasn't a battle or an ordeal. He'd call and say "I'm thinking this" and I was so thankful he'd thought of something I didn't find any reason to find fault with it.

I'm grateful for that. I know some people have to deal with their grief in addition to sudden battles over burial or cremation, viewing or not, what prayers what songs, what what what what? It becomes a power struggle. Maybe it's an ego struggle as everyone pushes their own agenda. I don't know because it wasn't my experience. My brother had good ideas as we walked toward this new experience together and I was grateful for them.

On my end there was the travel. There is the travel prep and then there is the travel itself. I'm not sure which is more tiring.

We acquired dresses and suits and ties, and checked the tires. Preparations were made of various sorts as we got ready to head north.But most importantly, we had to tell our kids.

Everyone knew that Grandma was very sick and wouldn't live long. I suppose that's the reason no one questioned this sudden flurry of shopping. But my brother and I had agreed to tell our children at about the same time before we did a general announcement in the land of social media and as the sun set I got his message that he had told his children.

My turn.

We were sitting in Chilli's having a typical sub-par meal and so at one point I shared the information with them. I felt numb as I said the words. "Grandma died today."

They stared at me with blank faces, but the calm might have been more disturbing than a huge outburst. They acknowledged what I had said, and seemed sad but at the same time I don't know what I expected. A friend of mine recently said "Dammit feel my shit the way I want you to" as a joke. But that's how I felt. I wanted someone else to feel as gutted as me and I felt guilty for wanting it to be my children, I guess I just wanted to not feel so alone in this pain. I worried and worried about how they would take it. Then they took it with sadness but calm and I felt like they didn't seem to care as much as I wanted them to.

Then I felt bad for feeling like that.

I remember when my Grandpa died, with whom was I was very close. My mom was her Daddy's girl and by the same token so was I. When he died I was devastated. I remember crying and crying when my daddy told me. But then after that I don't remember really crying again in the immediate days after. I remember getting a new dress at Newkirks which was the best shop in town. I remember being very impressed by this dress.

I remember the spectacle of it all being actually quite fun, so many people and so much visiting plus all the food. It wasn't bad. It was happy because of all the love and family being around.

I suppose that then it shouldn't have surprised me that despite my own sadness, my children found fun and activity on the way there.
There was coloring and laughing at dinner on our stop and I couldn't any fault with that at all.
Julia made a treasure map to get to the funeral. All maps are treasure maps it seems. I can't find any fault with that either.

We crossed rivers and states and traveled north to the land where our people live and our people have died. It was a long drive and it was past bed time when we rolled in.
Nickajack is always one of my favorite views on the trip. At least the trip is scenic.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

How Fragile We Are

On September first I woke up at six am and saw multiple phone calls plus a text from my brother to call him. There were from 4:15 in the morning.

I knew what that meant.

On August 31st I had this thought, "My mom just needs to die." She was suffering, in a coma, she was drugged but in obvious distress. My brother made sure she got more medication to calm her. I sat at my desk and realized that my mother not only was going to die, but she NEEDED to die.

And die she did.

My mom died. In a facility, alone, exactly how she wanted to go so that she wasn't a bother to her family, so that medical professionals could handle the unpleasant side of her death, my mom's heart stopped probably from a build up of ammonia and other toxins. She fell into sleep then coma, and drifted away from us forever.

My mom died.

It's exactly one week later and I can't quite get my mind around it. I'm wearing her wedding ring, and my grandmas engagement rings stacked with my own and I still can't get over it. It's one thing to intellectually know that your parents are going to die some day. It's another thing for you to know your parent is terminally ill and see how ravaged they are by what is killing them. Its yet another thing to hear them talking about their funeral, seeing them and knowing they are totally ok with this death thing that's coming.

And when they die, it is yet STILL another thing and it's possibly the worst thing ever.

What puzzles me is that this pain, this grief, isn't unique. I know so many people whose parents have died and I amazed at how they are upright and functioning humans. How is it possible that a grief this wracking, this soul searing can fade? How does anyone recover from this?

You just do.

I don't know how yet. I know people who lost parents as children, and as old people, and they all still function so I know you do. Somehow we go on and life continues. I know for me I went to work about 2 and a half hours after learning my mother was dead. I went to have conversations and gather things and send messages and tidy up what needed to be sorted. I found having occupation kept me moving forward. Had I stayed home and done nothing I might have collapsed on myself like a neutron star. The weight of this grief is still oppressive, pressing down on me as though I weigh 500 pounds.

I came home from work and ate junk for breakfast.
Grief loves carbs.

There are major milestones in all lives. I just crossed one of the bad ones. And now I move forward into the rest of my life, using everything she ever taught me to be the person I am.