I don’t know what to expect when your birthday starts to creep up. Will it be a day of remembering you? Will it be a day of remembering the pain? Can any holiday ever feel the same again?
I wanted to feel happy and calm today but I’m finding I feel completely different now that the day has finally arrived. I’ve placed heavy expectations for this day and find that my expectations aren’t met. Often I ask myself, “Who am I now that you’re gone, and how am I suppose today?” And then, I feel deep grief and sorrow and I’m surprised at the moments when I feel “ok,” which can sometimes lead to unwanted feelings of guilt.
I woke up and somehow made it through half the day, before I was reminded that it was your birthday. I’ve been thinking about this day for a while. Little Brother and I just talked about it this week. Now I feel horrible.
It explains why I didn’t sleep the best last night. Or why I woke up tired as if I didn’t sleep. I was irritated and upset by just merely having to get out of bed. Angry because I had to work. And I wanted to be hugged and loved and left alone all at the same time. In an attempt to wash away feelings, I took a shower before taking the kids to school. That rarely happens. I should have taken the day off work. Ugh.
Now that your birthday is at the forefront of my mind, I am feeling like the worse daughter ever. I remember that I asked best friend and another friend of mine to help me do a lantern release. Baby steps but I’m trying here. I wish I had the answer to why this is so hard and the antidote to grief and how it affects you as an entire person.
So first let’s see if I actually go through with the lantern release. The give up and cancel spirit is very heavy right now. And then let’s see how I feel afterwards. Should I fail to muster the emotional, physical or mental strength to do anything today I hope you know that I still love you. And while I haven’t planned a chill at home birthday party for you, with a cake that you never eat, and food you eat but talk junk about; know that you’re always on my mind and in my heart. I hope wherever you are and whatever you’re doing it is bringing you pure enjoyment. You deserve it.
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’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 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.
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.
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.
It’s pitch black and there are only a few cars on the road. Traveling east bound back home after a few hours out with the kids. I felt like they needed some fresh air and they requested to spend some of their holiday money.
Singing to some song I barely know the words to, in the distance ahead I see the lights of an ambulance waiting to merge onto the rural road. As I near the ambulance I see that they have made a complete stop and not actually attempting to pull onto the road from the residential driveway.
As a healthcare professional who has spent many years working in the hospital setting, mostly the emergency department, I said a silent prayer for the patient inside the ambulance as well as the family that is inside the home.
The closer we get to the ambulance, my heart begins to race and I just feel a sense of worry and anxiousness. I tried to shake this by turning up my radio and singing again. Suddenly I am just overwhelmed with these emotions to include sadness. A small voice tells me to look into my rear view mirror. I look up and I see that the ambulance is now a couple cars behind me with its lights on but far enough away that I don’t need to “make way”.
I continue to drive, still experiencing these intense emotions. While the marquee of a million thoughts and stories are scrolling through my mind, I’m startled by the blaring sound of a siren. I look up again in my rear view mirror to see the ambulance had not only turned on the sirens but has also picked up speed. I sped up a little as well and at the time I was unsure why. In hindsight 20/20, I was trying to get away from the ambulance. I was not even a mile from the road I needed to turn on to get home. I was racing to turn before the ambulance could reach me.
The children are asleep in the backseat and I am just a hot mess while driving. After assessing that I would not make it to the road before the ambulance approaches me, I decreased my speed and turned on my flashers. My plan was to pull off on the shoulder to allow the ambulance to pass me.
As I pulled off on the shoulder and come to a complete stop, the ambulance bolts pass me. Those intense feelings of worry, sadness and anxiousness get stronger and stronger. I look up to see the lights on in the back of the ambulance but nothing more as they were making their way to the emergency department.
As I sat on the shoulder with my flasher on, I recount the numerous occasions that I received calls about my Mom being rushed to the emergency department. My eyes began to fill with tears and they fell down my face. Soon I was ugly crying and I could not stop. I had to just sit and cry because I also couldn’t see well enough to drive. My eyes were burning, my nose was running and I was silently sobbing in the front seat trying not to awake my children. I wasn’t successful because my daughter awakes and asks if everything is ok. I lie and say yes. She can see the ambulance in the distance ahead. She asks again if everything is ok and I respond by saying I needed to pull over to let the ambulance pass. She understands and lays her head back down to sleep.
I never knew a place, a person, or a thing could trigger a grief response. (If that is even a thing) I was crying because I could not imagine how my Mom felt riding in the back of an ambulance with the sirens blaring and with emergency personnel all around her. She hated hospitals. Or should I say she was fearful. Strongest woman I know but she had her weaknesses. I begin to feel alone, sad and scared. At this point I just want to get home to my safe space.
I cried all the way home. And once I got home, I cried a little more. I miss her. And I realize that I will never stop missing her. I don’t see how this can or will ever get easier when reminiscing causes such intense and tearful moments. But for once I cried outside the tub (my safe space) and I allowed myself to feel every emotion. I didn’t try to bury it or dismiss it.
But the fact still remains that I miss her something terrible.