Sunday marked the 6 month anniversary of my mom’s death. I find it hard to believe that it was that long ago now. I still think and cry about her every day, although it is for a shorter time. The feelings of sadness are now hit with an overlay of disbelief. I find it so had to accept that I will never talk to her again. There are so many things that I really would like to ask her. It is so hard when something interesting in my life happens now and I am not able to share it with her. She was always there for each “triumph and tragedy!” While we changed the house and have packed up much of her stuff, there is still much to do. I just don’t have the motivation right now to do it. What I find hard to deal with is all the knowledge, stories, and history that are now forever lost because she is not here. Thank God she wrote so many wonderful poems about her life that I can go to whenever I miss her. It is just that it is an incomplete picture, and I long for more. I think that is what my grief has turned into…a longing and ache for more that I know in my heart I can never have. The best two words to describe the feeling would be, “it sucks!” My friends and family have been so supportive and I am so grateful for that. I have had a lot of loss in my life and have managed to get to the other side of it. This one has been the most difficult, and while I am moving forward, the process is extremely painful and challenging.
It has been a little over two months since my Mom died while I was holding her hand. In some respects I am feeling better, but in other respects I am feeling much worse. As the time passes I become aware of the distance in time since she was alive on the earth. As I get further away from her death, I feel myself not wanting to move on. If I couldn’t keep her here alive, I almost want to keep the sadness then of her not being here. I cry every day, especially in the morning hours as I spent each day doing something with her. I miss her home health aides that would come on Mondays and Thursdays, both of whom have been coming to help out with my Dad or Mom since the mid 1990’s. I am sure my mother’s death has left a hole in their week as well. Since I live in her house, there are constant memories of her everywhere. We have started to change things a bit to make the house our own, but it is difficult. No matter what we change, it is still the house that my parents picked out for retirement and still the house that held so many memories of happiness and tragedy. I am not sure if any amount of new furniture or coat of paint can ever change that. I am not sure if I want to live in a place that forever will keep me locked inside with those constant memories.The house is comforting in some ways as it was the second home I ever knew, but can I truly ever go forward with a house that is so full of echoes of the past? Time and decorating will tell, and it is far too soon to even think of moving at this point, but I do wonder. I wish I could say that it was only the house that was full of memories. I pass a restaurant she liked, a doctor’s office we frequented in later years, or some beautiful landscape that she commented on, and I am missing her again. She was such a part of my life and daily routine that I would have to move from the area to not have constant reminders. I hope that in time, these “triggers” will not have the power over me as they do now. I think that I will probably be desensitized to them, or at least I hope my reaction will be one of fond remembrance, rather than intense sadness. Since my life was really about being my parents caregivers for 24 hours a day and seven days a week for the past 19 years or so, I have not been prepared for what a life changing event the loss of that role would be to me. I have been doing it for so long that I stopped imagining what a different life would be. When my Mom died on that dark day of December, my whole life, routine, and identity died as well. I think that I am not only mourning the loss of my Mom, but the life that I had and knew how to maneuver. Now that both my parents have died I must plan a new life for myself. I think that I might have been overwhelmed at the thought of it all in these past few weeks. I hope that in time I can see this as a time to really grow into new directions, rather than a time of mourning the loss of an old life. Everything good or positive in me is because of my wonderful loving, nurturing parents. I know that they would want me to shine and brighten up the world as they did to me and so many others. While I am having a tough time right now, I hope that as I move forward I can make better sense of it all and enjoy the precious life that they gave me.
It was a month ago on December 10th that my Mom died holding my hand at home. I find words unable to express the hole that has been left in my soul. She was my best friend, protector, confidant, and fountain of wisdom for my entire life. We have been through so much together and the knowledge that I will not have her for the rest of my life seems so unbearable. We have been through so much together… the death of my brother to suicide when I was 16, the near fatal car accident in 1992 that my father was in and the home care we administered to him for 12 years after the accident while he suffered dementia until his death in 2003, Moms’s stroke in 2003 which left her weak on the right side and unable to write or speak very well, the death of my sister-in-law to breast cancer, the death of my dear Aunts Gloria and Gen, and finally the death of my oldest brother to suicide in 2010. And that is just the bad stuff! She was there for every play I ever appeared in when I was an actor, every graduation from college, every birthday, every holiday, anything positive in our lives we always shared together. She always knew how to cheer me up when I was down, always had the right things to say, or give a much needed hug, even after she suffered her stroke.
We lived together in the same house and it is so eerie here without her. The house is so quiet without her. She was such a presence and that has been silenced now. Because it was her house, there are reminders of her everywhere, and each one I encounter can send me off into a deep crying jag. Since her stroke she was my main concern, and my whole life was geared to making sure she was happy. The days were filled with helping her dress, doctor’s appointments, home health aides, physical therapy, and assisting her with whatever she needed. My daily routine, or should I say lack of one now has left me utterly confused and bewildered. So much of my identity for almost 20 years has been caregiver to one or both of my parents.
I realize that in the plan of things we are all to lose our parents when we are alive, but when you live with someone almost your whole life and they are no longer in your living space it really hits you hard. When my brother died two years ago in Maine, it was easy to think we just haven’t seen him in a while. Yes I knew he was dead as I attended the wake and funeral, but his death did not affect my daily routine. Also, of course, I was not as close to him as I was to my Mom so that is probably why I am affected so deeply.
It is also a revelation that I am now the last remaining member of our family unit. I am not only mourning the loss of my Mom, but my whole family. There is now no one alive who remembers me as a young child. I am the keeper of my childhood now, and I can only remember so much myself! It is of no comfort to know that I am the next to die as well!
While I have mourned all my losses deeply, I was not as deeply connected to any who I have lost as I was to my Mom. We had this connection that was almost psychic and we complimented each other well. People who saw us together always commented on our unique relationship, as it was so obvious to those who met us together. With her death, it literally feels like I have lost a body part. I yearn to be whole again, but feel like I never will be now. When she died, I felt a part of me die that instant and while I can go on, I know that I will always be missing an important piece of me.
My partner, friends, and family have been wonderful through this ordeal. They know how deeply close my mother and I were, and have been great checking in and up on me. I can see they feel so helpless at times, as there really is no way to make me whole again. I cherish their love and their care that they give me at this time. Unfortunately for me I am no longer a religious person. I find no comfort when people tell me she is “in a better place,” “God needed her more,” “she is looking down on you,” or “she is reunited with your dad and brothers.” I believe she is dead and I will never see her again. These platitudes only help those who believe exactly as you do, and I find them more distressing than comforting. I also don’t appreciate when I tell you that she was 87, and I am told that “she lived a good life.” Yes she did, but she didn’t want to die and just because I had her for a long time doesn’t mean that it should be easier to deal with her loss…it makes it harder. Yes, I know I was lucky to have her for so long, but when someone dies you are missing them and not thinking how lucky you were. I am not angry or upset with anyone who expresses their concern for me and my loss. I know it is difficult to find the right words to express to someone when they suffer the death of a loved one, and I appreciate all who have made an effort who have done so. I am just amazed on how the words affect me.
I know I will go on, if there is one thing I learned from Mom it was how to endure tragedy. I feel sad when I want to, and happy when I can. At one month out though, I can see that this will be a long, slow process.
I am changed forever and I miss my Mom.