12 December 2007

The Aftermath

I've been mulling over this post for sometime now. I didn't know if I should even publish it, seeing as how it is Christmas and the season of Joy and merriment and whatnot and this post is none of those. But, it is my blog and my Christmas this year isn't so much about the joy and the merriment, but rather about surviving whilst avoiding turning into an unholy combination of Ebeneezer Scrooge and the Grinch. So, read at your own peril.

Two Sundays ago was the six-month mark. It seems simultaneously forever ago and like yesterday. After all the family and friends left, I told myself that the only way to survive this was to run as hard and as fast as I possibly could until I got far enough away that I could deal with it. Maybe that was the wrong way to go about things, but it seemed the only way. And, I did it. I focused on anything that could distract me and kept busy. It wasn't so difficult with it being the busiest season at work, having a new job in Church, and looking after my dad. Halloween and Thanksgiving were a little difficult, but I had things to focus on, like a trip to my aunt's or the trick-or-treaters, or making sure I cooked the turkey well enough to avoid food poisoning. But it is still as sharp, as surprising, and as searing as it was six months ago whenever I am side-swiped by a reminder of her absence.

It isn't the things one would expect that do the side-swiping either. I can look at family pictures without a twinge. I can tell my book club about her reading Mary Poppins to me as a child without incident. But, a Sarah McLachlan song on a CVS/pharmacy commercial that I don't know if my mother ever heard can cause me to sob uncontrollably. Flying home from California, between Oakland and Seattle, a glimpse of Mt. Rainier dropped me to my knees (figuratively, of course, as such sudden movement on a plane these days would bring the U.S. Marshalls running). I never know what will push the misery from manageable to overwhelming in an instant or how to keep it from happening in the most public of places and the most inconvenient of times.

I do know what does not help. It does not help to have aquaintances, however well-meaning, comment on how hard it must be for my dad and I right now. Or to further suggest that knowing that she is in a better place makes it somehow easier. It doesn't; I'm not mourning for her. I, better than nearly anyone, know what it was like for her the last days, weeks, months, and years of her life. My worst nightmares these days are that she is alive again, but still sick and wasting away while I have to stand by, helpless, and watch. What I'm dealing with, and I suspect my father as well, is the anger, the grief, the ache of her absence. In that aspect it doesn't really matter what my beliefs about the afterlife are, because what hurts is that I'm separated from her in my life, here and now. Grief, even in its purest form, is ultimately selfish.

7 comments:

katharine said...

I am so sorry. I had no idea.

Heather said...

nothing seems appropriate to say. I am so so sorry.

cherbear said...

You know, I feel similar feelings about my grandmother. She died several years ago and everyday life without her is fine but when I hear certain songs, I break down even now, years later. I can't listen to Toad the Wet Sprocket (that was the CD I was hearing when I found out she had passed) without coming to tears. Music is very powerful at invoking memories. I don't know if I'll ever stop crying when I hear that CD or those songs on the radio. And you may not either. We may know that there is an afterlife and such, but that isn't enough for most people to feel better. It's the fact that she is no longer there that's the hardest part. I don't know if there is anything that can fix that. I can't imagine how it would be to lose my mother. You are a very strong woman.

Katie said...

I am so sorry as well. Your mom really was the greatest, and I can't imagine what you are feeling right now.

esperanza said...

That is hard, and I think sometimes people make it seem like they think it shouldn't be so hard. But it is! I know I even have no idea how hard it really is. I'm excited to see you though when I come home for Christmas~

Duludes said...

Well I agree with you how hard it is. Watching my mom all though see his still alive, but truly not the same person. I know what it's like to just start crying anywhere at anytime because you think it's not fair and why did it have to happen. Sorry I guess I'm mostly venting about my mom and the relationship that I know have with her. I to am excited to see you at Christmas time. I will be in ML the 28-1st.

heidi said...

That is so true about crying at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected places! It usually happens to me when it is quiet and I have time to think and that is often the worst time b/c you know everyone must be staring at you and wondering what on earth is wrong! Music was a big one for me too - songs I'd never really heard the lyrics to or understood the meaning of, or just songs that I associated with my Dad. I threw together my dad's pictures and put them on a dvd for the following Christmas after his death. For some reason Tracy Chapman's song "The Promise" w/ pics of my dad was the one I absolutely sobbed through?!? One other thing that really gets to me is any time I see any farm machinery, especially a back-hoe. I guess that is because it makes me focus on the way my Dad died suddenly and unexpectedly and how I wished I could have been there. I remember my mom saying the exact same thing about people making comments about how hard it must be. I know even after going through what I did, that it is still hard to know how to help those around me who are experiencing the loss of a parent or something similar. I do feel so much more compassion, but knowing how to share it and really help is a whole other story. I'm terrible about making phone calls. It always seems like it would surely be an inconvenient time for me to call. I can't even imagine what it would be like to watch my dad suffer and therefore will never know what exactly you have been through. Every relationship is so different and every loss so painful in a different way. I hope you know how much we all care about you and love you, Christen, even if we don't always say or do the most helpful things!