My siblings have graciously and generously taken care of all the necessary final arrangements. My mother did not want a service, she was adamant about this. So they have generously arranged for a private family dinner in which we will celebrate her life. My brother has offered his home for family and friends to stop by afterwards if desired. I want to share that I am overwhelmed by all the thoughts and messages, prayers being said for me and my family.
The reality that she is gone hits me sporadically and infrequently. It’s still not real yet. If that makes any sense. I’ve been practicing self care, resting the past few days, working on her obituary, which I must say hasn’t come easily. I remember an obituary of someone who I knew, and despised, and my jaw was sitting on my chest throughout the whole obituary because it was so uncharacteristically her, and I had thought about becoming an obituary writer after reading it. Clearly, you can say anything you want, make up things, be anything you want or want them to be in an obituary! For me, I wanted it to be an honest assessment of my mothers life. I wanted to touch upon the things that were most meaningful and important to her. Doing so required sorting through many memories and feelings. and spanned the last five decades of her life that I was aware of.
I look around my house and I’m reminded of how much my mom did for me. We tackled projects together, including painted furniture that she would strip, fix, and I would paint. She rarely sat, she was always busy. Sometimes that used to drive me nuts. And the things that she did that used to irk me, like leaving cleaning agents in nooks and crannies around the house, today made me smile. My house will NEVER AGAIIN be as clean as it was then when my mom was staying here or house sitting! Last night when I did the dishes I remember her saying to me “the warmth on your hands is healing, Donna, let it nurture your hands”. For the record, my dishwasher also died, and I haven’t yet nurtured my hands today! And for over a decade now, my mom took care of all my flower gardens, and yard. Her and my friend Joe who took care of the lawn, both of whom will no longer be doing that. I will deal with that when the snow is gone. Perhaps I’ll get back into gardening?
My mother and I couldn’t be more opposite in some ways, and in others we were side by side, I echoed her. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but I know that both of these things were obvious in our relationship. Sometimes it’s because you are very much alike that personalities clash!
I’m not liking this particular journey of grief. Actually, I haven’t liked any other either. But this loss, this is vast. I can’t even comprehend it yet. Am I saying it is greater than my other losses? I don’t know, I just know it’s seemingly different, in the short time since she passed. As I go through pictures to share with my siblings, I’m also sorting through memories. My mother would surprise me many times I was away teaching. I’d come home and she’d have not only cleaned the house but also did extras, things that I was meaning to do just hadn’t yet found the time. I remember the first time I traveled after my ex boyfriend and I split. I have mentioned on numerous occasions he was an alcoholic, a binge drinker. Well, when I started to travel teach, I was weary when I’d pull out of the driveway on a Thursday or Friday to travel to my gig. I didn’t trust him, and was afraid that he’d get drunk and would lose one of my animals (accidentally) or burn my house down. So when I came home the first time after we split and my mom had stayed at my house (with my 4-5 animals), I was delighted to come home to a super clean house, new scatter rugs, and other small things that really were appreciated. Although, she was far more excited over a toilet bowl brush than i was! Seriously! I remember thinking how nice it was to have someone “on my side” or working with me with housework and goals.
I am afraid of grief. I am afraid because it can be such a deep dark hole, an emptiness, a seemingly endless journey of sadness, at least it was for me when my youngest sister died, and when I learned Jim had died. I’ve been reading articles online how to help yourself, things you can do to help move your grief along if you are feeling stuck. I haven’t felt stuck because I haven’t yet accepted it. But I know from experience that there will be a time that I do, and it will probably be when I get angry. If you’ve never read any of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross work, her writing was amazing, her work with the dying was ground breaking. Both my mother and I enjoyed her books, and my mother doing hospice work shared many things with me. It’s time to pull back out the book written by hospice workers that I cannot seem to recall its title, but I will. I will probably have to buy it again, which I have done probably five times, because I always seem to pass it along to someone else who was in need of comfort, understanding, who was walking the difficult path of grief. I want to say “Final gifts”.
I’ve kept fairly alone this week, which works for me. Once an extrovert, I have long since moved over to the introverts side, and I heal, process alone. At one point in my life I was afraid to be alone, as if it said something horrible about me that I wasn’t “in love”. Those days are long gone, and while I long for loving touch, I am comfortable with my life. I think each person has to define whether coming home to an empty house evokes loneliness or freedom! And that can vary day by day, certainly when walking through grief. I’ve gone from having 5 pets, two dogs and 3 cats, down to one geriatric cat who at the age of 18 years old has the whole house to herself. She was always low man on the totem pole. All the other animals would pick on her, but now she’s showing them! I thought I was losing her a couple months ago, i mean, she is obviously showing signs of age, she sleeps a lot, but she had stopped eating, and had become alarmingly thin. I’m pleased to say she is doing much better, and I love looking over at the second chair in my living room and seeing here there. I’ve resisted offers and desires to get more animals because it’s just so expensive to have them, and I have been fortunate to have friends who helped me get their flea and tick stuff, shots, and also in putting them down when their quality of life became unacceptable to me.
I don’t know why I’m struggling so with second guessing the pain meds I kept asking for with my mom. As close as I can come to the fear of it, is that it silenced her. And my mother was hardly the quiet soul. She and I had a pact when it came to my animals. She really was good to them, and my dogs lived at her house half the time because of how much I traveled. But I digress. The pact was, if I was letting one of my animals live in a manner that was less than quality of life, she would tell me. Because I never wanted them to suffer, ever. So in recalling this, why would I question doing the same with my mom? It isn’t as if we euthanized her, but my mother has always responded drastically to the smallest dose of most meds. Was there more she wanted to say? The fact that I, we had the last word with her offers little comfort from a strong woman who always seemed to have the last word.
Back to being alone, one with myself, tomorrow I am going out to get my hair done. I’m looking skunk (ish) with roots. I tried doing this the other day, but I couldn’t sit in my own skin while I was waiting for my girlfriend to finish with her previous client. I bowed out, leaving her a note, because I just wasn’t doing well physically or emotionally. I hope tomorrow goes better.
Hope you had a nice day, hope you smiled today and shared with loved ones how much they mean to you. It’s important, and in the overall scheme of life, it goes by so fast.
Love and good thoughts being sent to you . Thanks for reading!