Missing my momma today (not like I don’t miss her every day–I do, but today is different.)
I’m to that place where I know nothing will bring her back. I’m at that step when you accept that the person you love, your mother, your best friend, is never coming back.
I’m not telling sweet stories about how everything is going to be okay, because it would’ve been better with her here, us telling stories to each other about the last adventure and mishap we went through.
The hole doesn’t get smaller, you just get used to it as you walk through your day, always a little more empty than you were before she died.
2 years gone tomorrow. I wish I could wish you back.
But you’re gone. And I know that. And I’ll still make you proud momma. I’ll still keep trying to fix everything and enjoy life while I’m at it.
I’ll still keep holding you, your memories, your lessons, your love with me forever (or for my forever—as long as that may be.)
No one knew how to make me feel better like my momma did.
I’ve dealt with depression probably since middle school, I just didn’t realize it was depression until I was an adult.
At night when I was a kid I used to get sad and I didn’t know why. I would usually find my mother, or buzz her on the intercom from the basement and tell her that I wasn’t feeling well. She’d come down to my room and I’d tell her how overwhelmed and bad I felt. She would always hold me and tell me that it’s okay to cry. “Sometimes we just get full of emotions and have to let them out.”
I still struggle with my emotions, usually now it’s in the morning; not wanting to get out of bed because what’s the point. She used to make me get up too ( I always hated that) and would tell me, “Don’t waste the daylight!” Now I have a guilt complex about sleeping in, even though I do it all the time. But it can be a good voice in there too, telling me to live this life and not let the dark thoughts and corners eat me up.
“Get out there and do something!”
Not today though mom. Today I’m going to sit inside, cry, and remember you.
And I think you would say that’s okay, and want to hold me if you could.
Two years ago today my mom sat in her wheel chair at MSUM’s Nemzek field. A yearly ritual, we would park nearby, walk up to the stands, listen to the cover band play old American classics and wait for the lights to dim. Once it was fully dark we would see the first reload shoot up with a “thwump”, a swirling smoke stream left in its wake, and then the first “pop” and “ahh” would echo the stands. My mom was usually the loudest to “ooo” and “ahh”; sometimes a pop would sparkle so impressively she would start to clap. She always remembered to tell us that the “palm tree” ones were her favorite—an opinion that I shared either because of her immense proselytization of their beauty and “awesomeness” or just because they really are the best and most awesome—I’ll never really be sure.
Two years ago was different though. This time we sat on the side because my mother would never be able to make it up the steps of the bleachers. We brought her walker/wheelchair and parked in the handicap spots about 100 meters from where we plopped our chairs on the grass. It was still a great view and you could hear the music off the side of the bleachers. My mother had wanted to go and had rallied a significant amount of energy just to make it to this unorthodox spot. We talked about small things that I can’t remember much until the fireworks began. After the first pop or two it wasn’t an “ooo” and “ahh” that I heard, but a remark filled with knowledge and sadness, “I just keep thinking—long pause—that these are the last fireworks that I’ll see.”
And right away I quipped back with a, “You don’t know that mom. You might be able to see them next year. Things could get better like they have before!” But, she did know and had grasped something remarkable that few of us get to experience.
What would it be like to see fireworks with eyes that knew they were the last you’d ever see? What would it be like to be aware that it was the end? Even in old age it’s rare to know exactly when you’re going to go. How good and bad and overwhelming and peaceful would it feel to get to say goodbye to someone with finality?
My mother, in her brown wig with highlights and her uncomfortable walker/wheelchair sitting outside the Moorhead football field, knowing this would be it; “ooo” and “ahh” she continued after we both let the comments be forgotten. “These palm tree ones are my favorite. I always love the way they sparkle.”
These past days (weeks, months?) I’ve been so caught up in a job and driving places and sharing in wonderful and major life events. It’s been like a giant train speeding ahead and all I can do is look forward.
And there my mother’s ashes sit of the shelf. Static. Cold. Still permanent.
This morning I woke up to the rain dropping through the leaves in my back yard. I think of my mother. I think of the new house I just bought. I talk about the first joint checking account I will open with someone. I talk about all the weddings I’ve been to and that they were just the right kind of love. I talk about you, and how I wish we could talk.
Last summer I got to write and grieve and write and grieve. It was a fevered sort of peace that let me process and had me desperate to hold onto you.
Then I took a job, and it has turned out to be heavy, and distracting, and full of its own consuming challenges. I can’t stop because the job won’t let me, because I love these little kids, because public education in the city of Philadelphia is a joke compared to what it should be and it tears my heart everyday that I can’t make it better.
You, there on the shelf, are you still a part of this struggle with me?
She comes back to me in waves while I’m moving through stress and joy and moments.
You still guide me when I feel like a failure and I need someone to tell me that they love me, that I can do anything, that there’s no reason to question myself because of course you know I can.
You are still there in pockets of my every day.
But I want to write you in permanently. I want to welcome you back through the words of your story. I want to remember you always: not just in the tattoo I want to get or a picture that shows your smile.
Sometime in 2014 you sent me a card that says on the front: “Every day is a gift” and in the middle: “Pretend tomorrow is from me.” You crossed out the part below that said “Happy Birthday” and wrote “Happy You are Loved day.”
Every day is a gift from you, mom. I miss you and I’ll never forget.
i carry your heart with me(I carry it in my heart)
Mom, I’ve been doing so much better. I can talk about you and feel pride and love instead of pain. I can go out and enjoy time with friends and not feel overwhelmed with thoughts of retreating into the corner to be alone. I can think about the future and feel good about moving forward without being afraid to go anywhere without you. I’m healing. I’m moving. Which is so scary mom, because it’s still away from you.
I think about you in every major decision, whenever someone is in pain, whenever someone is proud of me, or I hurt, or my life changes–you are a part of my future, even if I can’t tell you about it.
Today, sitting in a coffee shop with a good friend, I think about how you would laugh with me at the barbie doll girls sitting next to me, brood with me over the rudeness I felt when someone questioned my intelligence because I’m female, and cry with me when the house I was so excited about slipped through our fingers.
And because I can still remember you and feel you, it’s like you are sharing these things with me. I still fear that I’ll keep forgetting you, that time will erode away the strength of my sense of you. Will I be able to remember your scent, you hugs, the details of your smile and love 30 years from now?
Time is hard…and time is healing.
Grief has a way of making you change and develop even when you don’t want to, maybe especially when you don’t want to.
I can cry now. I couldn’t for about 5 years, unless it was about losing you.
I would never wish for this, but now that it is a part of me I will not begrudge it either.
When I came across this list from americanhospice.org it rang true for me. I was happy to feel that I have been healing. I know my mom would be proud of me to know that I am growing on and growing stronger.
I hope that others can feel resonance with the progress of this list. Maybe you feel some of these changes happening in you after you’ve felt pain or loss. Maybe you haven’t yet, but you will.
As we all move forward through the complications of life, filled with loss and joy, I hope time can continue to bring growth. Time is hard, but time is healing. Time is hard, but time is growth. Time is hard, but time is life–and she would want us to live it well.
You Know You Are Getting Better When…
By Helen Fitzgerald, CT
The progress through grief is so slow, and so often of a “one step forward and two steps backwards” motion, that it is difficult to see signs of improvement. The following are clues that will help you to see that you are beginning to work through your grief:
You are in touch with the finality of the death. You now know in your heart that your loved one is truly gone and will never return to this earth.
You can review both pleasant and unpleasant memories. In early grief, memories are painful because they remind you of how much you have lost. Now it feels good to remember, and you look for people to share memories with.
You can enjoy time alone and feel comfortable. You no longer need to have someone with you all the time or look for activities to keep you distracted.
You can drive somewhere by yourself without crying the whole time. Driving seems to be a place where many people cry, which can be dangerous for you and other drivers.
You are less sensitive to some of the comments people make. You realize that painful comments made by family or friends are made in ignorance.
You look forward to holidays. Once dreaded occasions can now be anticipated with excitement, perhaps through returning to old traditions or creating new ones.
You can reach out to help someone else in a similar situation. It is healing to be able to use your experience to help others.
The music you shared with the one you lost is no longer painful to hear. Now, you may even find it comforting.
You can sit through a church service without crying.
Some time passes in which you have not thought of your loved one. When this first happens, you may panic, thinking, “I am forgetting.” This is not true. You will never forget. You are giving yourself permission to go on with your life and your loved one would want you to do this.
You can enjoy a good joke and have a good laugh without feeling guilty.
Your eating, sleeping, and exercise patterns return to what they were beforehand.
You no longer feel tired all the time.
You have developed a routine or a new schedule in your daily life that does not include your loved one.
You can concentrate on a book or favorite television program. You can even retain information you have just read or viewed.
You no longer have to make daily or weekly trips to the cemetery. You now feel comfortable going once a month or only on holidays or other special occasions.
You can find something to be thankful for. You always knew there were good things going on in your life, but they didn’t matter much before.
You can establish new and healthy relationships. New friends are now part of your life and you enjoy participating in activities with them.
You feel confident again. You are in touch with your new identity and have a stronger sense of what you are going to do with the rest of your life.
You can organize and plan your future.
You can accept things as they are and not keep trying to return things to what they were.
You have patience with yourself through “grief attacks.” You know they are becoming further apart and less frightening and painful.
You look forward to getting up in the morning.
You stop to smell the flowers along the way and enjoy experiences in life that are meant to be enjoyed.
The vacated roles that your loved one filled in your life are now being filled by yourself or others. When a loved one dies he or she leaves many “holes” in your life. Now those holes are being filled with other people and activities, although some will remain empty. You are more at ease with these changes.
You can take the energy and time spent thinking about your loss and put those energies elsewhere, perhaps by helping others in similar situations or making concrete plans with your own life.
You acknowledge your new life and even discover personal growth from experiencing grief.
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)