Restart…Repeat

I woke up this morning, not much different than how I went to sleep last night. No appetite, not really wanting to get out of bed and just feeling blah.

I got the kids up for school. Got the little one dressed. Got their breakfast on the table and I sat in the bathroom sobbing for what felt like hours. My eyes red, puffy and swollen and my head aching. This is a never ending and unpredictable cycle. But as usual, I have to push through because I have no other option.

I’m almost certain this is a result of speaking to my cousin last night unexpectedly. Trying to be supportive for her, stirred up feelings for me. Each time she cried I wanted to cry too. And as soon as I hung up, I wrapped myself in my blanket and did just that. Laid in the dark, in silence and just cried.

Its going on 2 years of a never ending cycle of grief. I have good days and I have bad ones. Sadly, today felt like it was going to be a struggle day. Not even in the mood to interact with others, I opted to drop my son off in the car drop off line rather than walk him to school. I went back home and sat in the car, inside the garage crying.

All I could think was: This cannot be my life!

I grip the steering wheel and just cry until my daughter opens the car door. As much as I try to conceal these emotions from my children, she usually catches me. She’s such a sweet girl. I hug her and just think why me? A Mother? Why?

A sea of my childhood memories creep in and I cry even harder. All I want is to give them what I didn’t have and raise them how I think they should be raised. Childhood should be enjoyable and memorable. Not traumatic and stressful. Aiming to be a little better than my Mother because she always told me to never strive to be just like her but to be better.

We got ourselves together and I started the car to get her to school. As we were leaving I tell her the potential plans for the weekend. We arrive to the school with time to spare so we rearrange her book bag. Looking through her notebooks and tablets, she has drawings in each one. I told her we would get her a sketchpad just for drawing so she doesn’t use up her notebook paper and tablets for non class related notes/drawings. She agreed, cleaned her glasses and exited the car. Before walking away she leaned in and said “Try to have a good day Mommie. Things will get better.” I nodded and told her to have a good day and I love her. “Love you too!”, she replied and walked across the street to school.

I drove off with the thought to go on my morning walk. But I felt more like hiding inside my house. I just wanted to hide from the world. Sit in my big comfy sweater, sweatpants and fuzzy socks, and cry. Cry all fucking day, getting myself together only to put on the “I’m ok!” mask before picking up the kids from school.

Grieving sucks. The shit is life changing and never ending. So treat everyone you cross paths with delicately. Be gentle with others and yourself. Some people are fighting demons larger than life and still attempting to appear OK.

I Need Peace

I’m struggling today. I thought the series of grief events were behind me after Saturday came and went.

I was hoping that having my Baby Love home would ease this pain or at least make it tolerable but I’ve been attempting to self cope and cycling never ending thoughts through my little head.

Appetite. I don’t really have one. But I’m back in the throes of trying to numb my pain. Nothing is working. I get tired of talking about it. So I feel like others are tired of listening. Others being the few that I even have to converse with.

Feeling like I’m on the brink of self destruction, a nervous breakdown, something that I won’t be able to control. This space I’m in sucks. I smile when I really want to cry and I say nothing is wrong when there is so much wrong.

I need some peace. Where the hell can I find it?

Hold My Hand

Expressing grief through art: this is a drawing of a time I held your hand begging you to wake up and talk to me.

I held your swollen hands as you laid motionless before me. The sound of the ventilator filled the room, giving you breath after breath while your brain rested from all the trauma.

What happened? Is the main question that continually crosses my mind.

Guilt: Why didn’t I make it there in time?

Blame: Why did my HVAC specialist take so long putting me behind schedule to get to you for our routine grocery shopping day?

Inattentive: When you didn’t call when I was on the way to drop your Granddaughter off at school, why didn’t I feel something?

I remember pulling the neurologist to the side and sternly but respectfully asking him to not speak “end of life” in your presence because you were far from dead. I remember not showering or eating and sitting by your side day in and day out because I wanted to be there as soon as you awoke. I remember the nurses telling me to go home and rest. Promising to call me as soon as you awoke or in the event of any changes.

Hours, weeks and a month passed. You surprised your medical team. I told them how strong of a woman you were but they didn’t believe me. I couldn’t bring myself to give up on you no matter what family thought or said. As your oldest child and at the time the only one close enough to make decisions, I had to do what I felt like you’d want and what my brother would want.

Talk about the hardest decisions to make in my life and in a pinch. I did a lot of research by your bedside during this time. I leaned on my doctor and nurse friends for medical advice and comfort. I thanked every nurse and doctor who cared for you. I brought them coffee and doughnuts because I know personally how tough it is to care for patients 12 hours a day. I didn’t like to leave you alone because I know how you felt about hospitals. I wanted the staff to know you weren’t just someone with family waiting for that devastating moment, but you had a daughter with a powerful voice, who was intelligent and knowledgeable and asked a whole lot of damn questions lol.

It was this same hospital that my Father transitioned in…I was there for him out of respect and feelings of having to be there because he was my Father. But you…you were my Ace. My Bestie. My Right Hand. Way more than just a Mother. For 11 years, it was just you and I. Many conversations, many lessons, many tears, some hugs, some fussing, some eye rolling and some cursing (from you of course). What I’d give to hear you say “Gotdammit Cootie!”, “Shit!”

But I held your hand through it all. Using my favorite Bath and Body Works lotion to moisturize your hands. You always said cleanliness was next to godliness so I made sure they kept you clean. I wiped your face each morning. Put chapstick on your lips around the ventilator tubing. I played Kenny G and Miles Davis for you. I read to you. I watched your favorite black and white tv shows with you.

I was unemployed. No longer caring about landing or looking for a job but only being by your side. Until you were awake, nothing mattered to me. I made sure the kids were cared for, brought them when I could and had someone watch them in the lobby when I wanted to be with you and had them. My entire being consisted of being a Mother to my kids a quarter of the time and being an attentive and praying daughter the other 75% of the time. All I wanted was you. Because without you, I had no idea what to do in life. Yep, I was an adult who depended on the love and presence of my dear Mother.

Guess what Mommie…it’s been almost 365 days, and I still have no idea what to do with that 75% of myself. I miss you like crazy. My grief is easily triggered by the sighting of a store, items you use to go crazy over, songs you use to play, things you use to say…I have never experienced such pain. I’ve lost my Father, my Grandmother, my Great Grandmothers, my Great Grandfather, both my Grandfathers, babies, cousins and friends but nothing has felt as tormented and deep as losing you.

I can hear you in my ear/head a lot. “You can do better than this!”, “Don’t you doubt yourself!”, “I know the fuck you’re not?!”, “Get your shit together!”. And I cry endlessly. Grief is a road traveled alone. It seems that no cares to understand and I receive the same mundane responses. “I’m sorry you’re going through this, call me if you need me, I’m here if you need anything.” When I don’t want to get up and exist most have forgotten that I have no interest in adulting anymore. I was mostly doing it for you. To give you back all the things you gave me and so much more. When I go silent, I hear from no one and internally I’m crying just wanting someone to care but have made peace with the fact that your death affects me and me only. And rightfully so, I have to deal with it alone.

It makes me wonder if I was to leave this Earth today, who would give a fuck. Some may cry for a moment because their “go-to person” is gone, for others they’d simply mention saying a praying and then going on about their life. Friends are not made like you were. And maybe that is because you really knew me. Understood me. Hell you co-created me. Even when we disagreed, with an attitude we’d check on each other. “I know you still mad, but how is your ignorant ass doing?” “Are you hungry?” “Where my Pookie Pook & Princess?” “How are you feeling?” Our friendship surpassed our Mother/Daughter bond. Maybe this is why it is extremely hard to get through this. I was the one to listen when no one else would listen to you. A lot of what you said to me went over my head at the time but I am understanding more and more each day. You were silly, yet wise and loving. A true kind and beautiful soul.

I don’t know what I’m doing here still. I can’t seem to find peace or happiness in anything. Not having you around has been life changing and I just don’t know what path to take or road to travel. I miss you like crazy. My heart aches miserably every time I think of you. I just hope your soul is at peace. You were an awesome Mother. And a great friend taken away from me way too soon. I wish there was more than one of you. But then again the world couldn’t handle the one it was given.

Always your daughter…

Time…We Don’t Have As Much As We Think

A year ago today, I remember heading to help my cousin I watching her kids so that she could work. I packed up all my work items, my kids and their things and headed to her house that morning.

I didn’t sleep well which wasn’t anything new at the time. My Mom had been released from the hospital and she was now a whopping 5-10 minutes from me whereas before she was in a facility in another county 35 minutes away. I was sad that it took such a tragic event to get her moved but nonetheless I was happy to have her close.

I wasn’t able to see her like I could previously because of the COVID restrictions but I could visit her through the window and that was enough for me. To be able to lay eyes on her and ask her if she was ok and to have her confirm with a nod or smile and sometimes an eye roll. She had been telling me for the last few years that I act like I think I’m her Mother lol.

Her last hospital visit hit me hard. I was processing a lot by myself. I was handling a lot by myself. And while I’m grateful for my aunts and uncles, it was different not having my Brother by my side through it all.

Even with my uneasy feeling on this day, I still tried to function normally. It was extremely hard so I played with Benji, laughed with the kids and my cousin. Tried to eat and worked.

My phone rang and I stepped outside to take it. My heart sank so deep inside of me. The words this lady spoke to me hit me so hard. “I need you to get here as soon as possible. Your Mother is not doing well and we are expecting her to transition in the next 48 hours.” I wanted to yell but I was outside my cousins house. Still concerned about others I didn’t want to have her neighbors trying to figure out what’s wrong with the crazy lady outside and call the police. I paced her walkway. I called my Brother immediately. He has to come home. I let him know that I was going to Red Cross him because he was in the field training.

I felt sick, hurt, sad, angry…I didn’t want to scare my kids so I tried to keep cool. All I could do was silent cry. I told my cousin what was going on and I got my kids and things together and I left. I began to call my family. At this point I had forgotten all about work. My life was crumbling and there was no gorilla glue or magic tape to hold this shit together.

I always said if anything ever happened to my Mom surely I’d go crazy. Was this a test? Her accident that began this downward spiral was one thing. But this was different. It even felt different.

Now I know we are all here on borrowed time. But this was my Mother. My “originator”. The absolute center of my life. She’s the reason why I grind so hard! To make her proud and to be able to care for any and every need that she had or could imagine. The mere thought of not having my Mom here whether she was well or not disturbed me.

So many thoughts were flooding my mind. I couldn’t organize them. Some were just terrible. My positive talk was nowhere to be found. Guilt began to hit me again. Had I been on time before, the accident wouldn’t have happened and she would be ok and I would not be enduring this God awful pain.

The hospice nurse calls me while I was enroute to check in and give me tasks. I had to call the lawyer. I was trying to get my Brother home. Updating my family that is scattered all over and trying to still be a Mother to my own kids. I felt like a failure.

I thought back to when I got the news about my Dad. I remember looking at him and he just looked so sad. He looked like he had let us down. And although our relationship wasn’t the best. It still bothered me that this was the end of his life as I knew it. It hurt as well. But nowhere near as bad as how I was currently feeling. This was my Mom. I wasn’t a Daddy’s girl because I was my Father’s convenience child. His oldest. But he dealt with me when he wanted to. I was not a priority at all. Til this day, I remember hearing him say he didn’t ask for me to be here. He didn’t want me. And even though I knew this and never breath a word of it to him, in the last stages of his life I was there. Talking to the doctors. Handling his affairs and making end of life decisions on his behalf. Me. The convenience kid.

But now here I am facing this with my Mom. There’s no older child to help me through this. Just my little Brother. And while I have family they are very…rigid in their thinking. What they think is right, there are no other scenarios and they know everything about everything. They may have lost their Father. But I endured the lost of mine way before they experienced it. And now I was losing my Mom. I don’t think they truly had an idea of how I was feeling. The pressure I was under and how my mind was really getting the best of me. I didn’t need their dictatorship, negative talk or non valid opinions.

Speeding to get by her side. When I finally made it, for the first time since the pandemic began, I had to get tested. I could hear her now. “You not gone stick that shit up my nose. I don’t do cocaine and I’m not putting anything up my nostrils unnecessarily!” LOL. She was a character. I had to see her so at this point they could have gave me anthrax and I would have taken it just to get next to her.

I made it to her and I sucked up every bit of moisture I had trying to escape me before I walked into her room. This was my first time entering the new facility. The staff were exceptionally nice and maybe it was due to the nature of the situation but I felt as though it was genuine. I didn’t even take anything in with me. My phone was in my pocket and I immediately went to her side and grabbed her hand. Our normal greeting “Hey Best Friend” left my lips and she didn’t respond. My eyes started to sting and the tears I could no longer hold back. I squatted beside her bed and I laid my head next to her arm while I held her hand. I whispered softly “Mommie don’t leave me right now.”At this point I think I would of signed a contract sealed with my blood, given up an organ, anything to reverse what was happening. She opened her eyes. Still holding her hand I wiped my face because she would always tell me “dry your eyes, don’t cry my child.”

I sit and cry today. Feeling like there had to have been something I could have done to change the outcome of this. This pain that I have to live with is hard, unbearable at times. I feel so removed from reality. None of this feels real…because I don’t want to truly accept the idea that I’m a 37 year old parentless child. I lost the most important person in my life. And for the life of me I cannot get it together.

A Grieving Introvert

I’ve always known I was an introvert. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized that I was a highly sensitive introvert. And with that came deep emotions. I tend to process all things, good or bad, internally and I like to take the time to wrap our mind around things before I can talk about them. Sadly this causes me to overthink, examining my situations from any and every angle. It also doesn’t help that I’m a strong empath, realizing and remembering daily that my soul has been wounded by the pain of losing my Mother. At almost a year, this pain resonates deeper than any other loss I have ever experienced in my entire life.

In moments like this; that I hope to never endure again, I need those close to me to be okay with me not being okay. I need them to allow me to live in the depth of my loss and grief and to not attempt to move me past it at the rate that they think I should move. To not assume that after such a devastating loss that I will bounce back to the person I once was. I lost a huge part of my life and to this day I still cannot process it at times. I’m sorry, but I am not the same…

In the present moment, I have gravitated towards the bubble that encapsulates my children and I. Home is my safe place. Nature makes me smile and sometimes cry but it helps me process my feelings. Eventually I believe that I will get to a place where I am able to start making forward movement. But until then, I just want those who truly love and care about me to allow me to fully feel the pain of my loss, show me love and respect through my process and be supportive.

Be Your Own Valentine

Many people probably are not aware that grief is the form that love takes when you mourn the loss of someone close to you. Associating the day with someone significant can spark powerful emotions.

Valentine’s Day in itself emphasizes love, romance and togetherness. When reminded that you no longer have that special person in your life, this day could feel like utter shit. It’s hard to escape the displays in stores, the signs in windows or along the road or even ads on the Internet.

As a person who has lost their Father, Mother, Grandfathers, Grandmother, children and many other special people, I feel as though the day is praised and emphasized entirely too much and for what. Especially for those of us who are mourning the loss of love from those who were once close.

If you’re struggling today, I invite you to try some of these tips below. Remember it’s ok to not be ok. And don’t let anyone tell you anything differently. You have a friend in grief here, so if you need support send me a message. I will be happy to chat and be a pillar of support during your hard times. No pressure.


There are NO Rules

Often times people feel pressured to act a certain way as it pertains to mourning. Give yourself grace on today. Grieve in anyway that suits you and don’t worry about what others may think. Despite societal pressures and norms, there is truly no right or wrong way to mourn the loss of someone. (And this is to include pets for my animal lovers…to me they are just as human as people)

Burn Some Lead

Journaling is one of my favorite things to do to relieve stress and to start my day on a positive note. Nothing makes me feel better and focused than using a No.2 all wood to get the thoughts out of my head and onto paper. This freeing process is exceptional at helping you to process and organize your thoughts. Now I know everyone is not into physical writing (pen/pencil to paper) but fret now, it is also productive if you feel compelled to type. Don’t go back and read what you write, and keep these journaled thoughts somewhere that only you can get to. This is not only therapuetic but also can aide you in your grief response.

Honor Your Love

Channel your thoughts and feelings in a positive light during the day. There are many ways to honor your loved one that doesn’t require spending a coin. You could donate blood, volunteer your time at a nursing home or local homeless shelter. Focus your attention on a way to honor your dearly departed loved one. This may turn into your new annual tradition.

Be Your Own Valentine

The heavy process of grief can be physically debilitating for some. As a bereaved person, you may suffer from insomnia, poor eating and lack of physical activity. While others feel the need to love on someone else, today practice some self-love. Pay attention to yourself. Do something that will make you feel better or even smile today.

Month 10

Happy Heavenly Birthday Mom. I will never stop celebrating the day you were blessed to create me.

This day on any other year was like a holiday. It was the day you and I spent time together doing whatever you liked. It was the day that I put together a little party for you with a cake that you never ate, gifts and attempted to bring together your favorite people under one roof. It’s the day I wanted you to feel celebrated, loved, honored and appreciated. No it’s not Mother’s Day…it’s your Birthday!

Today is hard for me for two reasons. One it’s your birthday and two it is the 10 month anniversary of your transition. I purposefully worked today, which is also something I don’t normally do on this day. And to top it off, I packed my scheduled as tight as I could to eliminate any free time to cry and waddle in sorrow. You never liked to see me cry. It always made you tear up and you’d tell me to stop or walk away from me if you couldn’t contain your tears. Well, my entire day fell apart. I guess the message that was being given to me was that I needed to “tend” to my feelings. All my meetings except two were cancelled, my trainings were rescheduled and I had a huge hole in my day. I had already been up way before my alarm went off, staring at the ceiling and crying, thinking of all the reasons why I’m grateful and then following them up with all the reasons why I felt like such shit.

I tried to steer clear of my phone as I knew the photo memories would pop up. But every time I looked at my clock display, pictures of us or you and the kids appeared. After a while, I decided to take a look at the Google notification that I swipe left almost everyday. I just wanted to hear you laugh or say my name. I stopped on a picture of me looking like I allowed the wind to style my hair for the day. There was a caption that said I was headed to spend the day with my favorite girl on her special day. This was your last birthday at home. I always picked up food, had a cake or cupcakes that you never ate and gifts. I could not forget the gifts. This year it was some weird “As Seen On TV” crap that you bugged me about as if Christmas hadn’t just come and gone. It’s crazy because I would hunt and find it just to see your face light up.

I stumbled on a picture of me, you and your only granddaughter. Generations in one picture. We all have that nose of yours lol. I smile. You looked like you had just cursed me out because I interrupted your game that you were playing on your tablet. But you were dressed up and sitting with your legs crossed like the lady you were. I felt this tug at my heart. My eyes immediately starting to fill with tears. Normally I’d try to stop it but today, I removed my glasses and I just let the tears fall. I miss you. I don’t know what to do today. And I feel so lost.

I watched past videos of your birthday parties. I laughed at the one where I put trick candles on your cake and you kept trying to blow them out. You were about to get pissed at me. Grandma was fussing because she did not want me to drop the candles on the floor and burn down the house lol. Matt was ill because I kept laughing when the candles wouldn’t go out lol. That was the best. I scrolled to the picture when I got you an outfit and your boots…lord you worried me so bad about them damn boots! The following year, you had on the entire outfit for your birthday and you didn’t want me to take a picture of you. I knew you hated pictures but they are all I have now so I’m glad I snapped them anyways.

I really do not know what I am doing here anymore. I truly have built the life that I have to take care of you, and then to care for your grandchildren. But you most of all because I wanted you to be proud of the child that you raised that beat all the odds. I did’t end up pregnant as a teen. I didn’t let not having my Father around push me down a path of destruction and drugs. I left the little town you raised me in and I made something of myself. I spent time in the military, went to college, got married, started a career, got a good job, had kids, helped raise my Brother and took care of you anyway I could. All I’ve ever wanted was for you to be proud of me. Now that you’re gone, what do I do?

I’m struggling with this part of grief. Often isolating myself because I feel as though no one understands or cares. When I’m all alone with my thoughts, this is where I truly miss having you around. Without saying a word, you knew when I was upset. You knew when I was excited. When I was happy. When I had the sillies. You were always there to listen, give advice when you felt it was necessary and just be my best friend. I never had to remind you. It came naturally.

So i’m accepting it…losing my best friend is something that I will never get over. I have accepted that. But I refuse to stop celebrating you. The last thing I want is to one day forget your birthday just because you aren’t here. I gave you the best that I had while you were here. And I don’t know how to stop.

“SOMETIMES MEMORIES CREEP OUT OF MY EYES AND ROLL DOWN MY FACE.”

UNKNOWN

I hope you are having the best day ever even though it’s not here with us. I miss you and love you dearly and that will never change.