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.
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.
It’s been a hell of a day. And to top it off, the week itself has been a complete bitch. It has been 9 months, 39 weeks, 274 days, 6,570 hours and 394,200 minutes since you left me on this God forsaken planet with these humans.
The anticipation of today as well as yesterday was far worse than the actual course of the day. I opted to exit the house today to avoid wallowing in bed and crying endlessly into my pillow, smelling like Christmas Day or Christmas Eve (I can’t keep up) and just being completely sad.
Today, I made the trip to the cemetery to check on the area in which you lay. I’m not sure why I do this. I promise I can always hear you saying, “I don’t know why you come here to cry and be sad. I am not here“. Our beliefs on the “life after” were similar. However today, I just needed some peace. And being in a desolate cemetery gave me that sense of peace. Nothing but stillness and silence except for when the wind blew. Sitting at your feet as always, with my hands in the Earth, stroking the grass as if it was your hair. Truly weird Mother…I know. But you know, you have pretty weird children lol.
After sitting with you in silence for a while I was certain the kids would enjoy a day out since I ditched our Annual Christmas Trip. No worries Mom, they will definitely reconvene next year. This year was a blip.
To get my mind on a different track, I attempted to do a little retail therapy which ended horribly. I ended up buying the kids each a toy. It is the day after Christmas…palm to face. I know what you’d say. I rode them around the base showing them where I use to live and how the one time you decided to come into the area, I could not get you to come on base with me. You were not interested in the Army life I was living. You were still pretty pissed that you signed the paperwork to allow me to join at the tender age of 17. I’m sure as time went on, you were glad that you did. And as a bonus, I influenced my younger Brother to join and with much trial and error, you were finally able to see your youngest child and only son off into the Army as well. All you wanted was for us to get away and do something with our life. Yet here I still reside. But I came back for you. Now I am beyond ready to relocate. The obstacles just keep appearing in my path, but I will try to not let it deter me.
I saw Brother for a brief moment today. I think he feels as though he owes me an excuse for not hanging around much while he is visiting but it’s fine. After all he is an adult. He spent time with family today, since I had no desire to do so. His appearance is for the both of us. You know like how I use to show up for you. Smh. We’d play rock, paper, scissors to see who would make an appearance lol. So I’m thankful he went. However, I am sorry if they badgered him with questions but I think he’s well equipped with how to answer. (If you want to know, call her and ask…) You taught him well Mother lol.
This month was no easier than the last. I had to remind myself a bunch of times that I didn’t need to get you a gift. These holidays are really fucked up. I have therapy this week so I’m sure this will be at the top of the list of topics to discuss. I feel emotionally exhausted, with waves of excessive thinking and just a serious case of grief overload. Tomorrow’s another day to try and move through the stages of grief feeling as though no one understands this pain, and my disinterest in wanting to explain it. Retreating to my bubble..
Christmas Without YouAlthough it is sad to reminisce
On Christmases we once knew,
This year I tried to celebrate
All in memory of you.
I attempted to put aside my sorrow
With every unshed tear,
And concentrated on all the time and love
We shared when you were here.
Our time together, though very short, taught me
What Christmas time is for,
And that's what I will always remember
Until we meet once more.
It’s 5pm. And I’m excited. I’m not sure why, this guy never does what he says he is going to do. But I want nothing more than to be around him. This guy is my Father. I’m 9 years old. I’ve testified in court and now my Mom is sitting across from me crying because I am being made by a court order, to go stay with my Father, his wife and children. In our house, it’s just me and my Mother. She feels like her everything is being taken away from her. She silently sobs and picks at her jeans.
I stare out the front door of our house watching the tree limbs sway back and forth when the wind blows. I begin to wonder why is my Mother so sad? Why is she crying? He is my Father. I have no idea what my Mother goes through behind closed doors. I’m just a kid. And I just want my Father…I want him to want me.
I move from the chair to the floor in front of the stereo. The sun is going down and I ask my Mom if I can play some music while I wait. She motions for me to go ahead. I’m playing music for her, not for me. I can physically feel how sad she is. My chest feels heavy and I want to cry every time I look at her. She is so sad. As bad as I want to go with my Father, I do not want to leave my Mother like this.
I find Kenny G’s Breathless cd in the organized shelf of cd’s. I pop it in and I forward to track 9, “Even If My Heart Would Break”. She and I have listened to this song on her good days. She would grab my hand and dance with me around the living room. After it starts to play, I walk to her and I extend my hand. I begin to sing terribly “I’ve been around this world, I’ve been a lot of places…” At this point, I’ve forgotten about my Father. I’m more worried about my Mother and right now I want nothing more than for her to smile. Just so she can have a moment where she isn’t crying. If she feels how I am feeling, then I know she is truly hurting even if I don’t understand why.
She looks up at me and place her arms on the arms of the chair. With her head tilted slightly she asks, “child where have you been? Talking about you been around the world“…she chuckles, grabs my hand and rises from the chair to dance with me. We sing and we dance and we fall in the floor. After our dance, we cook and I fell asleep on her bed looking at clothes in her Spiegel catalog. We were ordering clothes to take pictures for Labor Day. She would pick my outfit and I’d pick hers. (Real Best Friend Shit)
My Father never came. This was nothing new. He always sold me the most elaborate dreams to never cash in on them. And when he saw me, I’d get the brush off and he’d tell me another lie or make another empty promise.
It’s been 5 months and this morning, I dreamt that exact day all over again. And I’m not really sure why. What I do know is that I held my Mother a little longer and I danced with her like I’d never dance with her again, because it felt so real.
I don’t share a lot about me or my childhood with anyone. And there is so much that I have buried. In therapy yesterday I was told that in order to heal and move to a more positive place in life, I have to address these things. They happened. I can’t change it but I can’t heal myself holding on to anger, regret, and resentment. So today, I accept the fact that this healing is one that will never end. The pain won’t ever go away and time won’t heal anything. I will always cry. The 26th will always be a sad day. My birthday will never be the same. A lot changed. And I have to change too…
Today I’m accepting that I have to let things from my past go, really make peace with them and release it. I accept that I have to let someone in or I’m going to drown myself in regret and sadness.
“Be YOU. And be good at it. Because there is not another YOU in this world.”
I’m the weird person who has a song associated to every major or memorable life event. Happy or sad occasion, I have a song that will take me right back to that specific day and time as if time hasn’t lapsed.
Currently it’s Good Days by SZA. Until this particular day, I had never truly listened to this song…I had just done one of the last things I ever wanted to do in life alone. Physically alone, because Brother was on the phone.
I was making my Mother’s final arrangements while she was still alive…
The hospice nurse thought that it would be easier to handle before rather than during this transition. I cannot tell you how much I tried to prepare myself for this. I couldn’t. My heart raced. I was fucking scared. I screamed. I was fucking angry. I threw shit, I banged shit and I broke shit. I just wanted to end the entire world. I didn’t give a fuck about anything or anyone at this point. I have never been here and I was completely ALONE. I am nearing the point where I have to tell my Mother, Goodbye. Goodbye. The word we did not say. See You later was our term. Goodbye was FOREVER. This felt like someone stabbing me in my chest and turning the knife counterclockwise. Over and over again, while I just sat and endured the pain. Digging deeper and deeper past my physical body and deep into my soul. My muthafuckin SOUL was aching!!! Do you understand what kind of pain that is???
After I sit in the car and give myself multiple pep talks, I walk inside. I’ve called because I don’t want to do too much talking. I’m 100% sure I’m going to fucking cry. I sit, shake and fiddle endlessly inside the funeral home. I still cannot make sense of me choosing a casket and vault for my Mother who is very much alive. I have not made peace with her transitioning soon. I don’t want this to be true. This woman…was not just my Mother…she was the truest of my true friends. She was my everything. I sat quietly with my Brother on FaceTime. I am sure to refer to her in the present because she is very much alive.
This is just planning. “Girl you are just planning, this does not mean anything.Get it together!”, I tell myself over and over again. I’ve been here before. But this time is different. THIS IS MY MOTHER!
I remember countless random conversations that we had about end of life. Things she said she wanted and things she absolutely did not want. Her biggest hell no was being put on display. We shared the same sentiment in this regard. I am just me. She was just she. She didn’t think she was pretty and neither do me. (That was our rhyme…❤️) We we just we. No label. In competition with no one. But one thing was for certain. We did not want people looking/staring at us. It’s funny because as I sat there at the table with the Funeral Director, I laughed. My Mom was truly a nut. Always being silly. (I’m sure that’s where I got it from) If someone stared at her a moment too long, she’d stick out her tongue. Smh. A grown woman. She was she, as I said. There was no one else like her and she didn’t give a shit. I loved that about her. She didn’t care what anybody thought. Her life was her own and she made of it what she wanted. No one else mattered. Except me and Tonka Truck Head lol. That was one thing that she always taught me. She’d say, “You are magical girl. There’s no one like you. Never let anyone dull your sparkle. And you better not come down off your thrown for no woman or man. I create nothing but greatness!” Once I got older I’d laugh at her speech. I thought it was funny…magical…ok Mom… (P.S. I’m a mermaid 🙄)
“No cars, no church. Private graveside service. I’ve already purchased the plot. Short, simple and sweet. No wake/viewing. No newspaper announcement. Immediate family viewing only after My Brother & I’s approval. I will write the obituary and complete the program. I’d like to assist with the design of the programs.”..I word vomited it all while tapping my foot and staring at the clock on the wall. All I could think was I have to wrap this up and get back to Best Friend. She is probably wondering what is taking me so long. She hated when I said I’d be right back and it was hours later. Say what you mean and mean what you say…that was her motto. And she stuck by it and tried to hold everyone else to it too.
I asked Brother if I covered it all, he agreed and I hurry the hell out of there. When I step outside and the sun hit me, I dropped my mask and take the deepest breath I could. My chest feels like ten elephants are sitting on top of me. I get in the car, hang up with Brother and head back to Best Friend. I get this strong feeling that she need me. She swears we were telepathic. I always played along. But foreal though…Mom I’m coming was what I was subconciously thinking just in case this shit was true. At this point, I believe in genies, fairies, vampires, zombies, heaven & hell, angels, Iron Man, WonderWoman, shit Donkey Kong. I reverted to an entire child again wanting nothing more than my Mother. If you don’t know how that feels, well I can’t make you. Believe me I don’t ever want to be there again.
I run not one but two red lights. I don’t even care. Mail me a ticket. I gotta get across town. I get a text from my aunt. Come on back now. I’m on the way Auntie…as fast as I can promise me. I reach the light not even a half a mile from her…
I sit and wait for it to turn green….I hear SZA and I sit and stare beyond what’s in front of me to listen,
Good day in my mind, safe to take a step out
Get some air now, let your edge out
Too soon, I spoke, you be heavy in my mind
Can you get the heck out?
I need rest now…
Good Days by SZA
The song is interrupted when my phone rings…I look down and it’s the hospice nurse. My body instantly turns into an ice block, my heart seems to stop and I feel like every piece of hair I have on me is standing straight up. She asks me if anyone had called me. I hesitate to reply. I am approaching the stop sign to turn into the facility parking lot. I’ve never really been scared like this in my life. I didn’t want to hear anything she had to say other than my Mother was speaking or something positive. She says, I’m sorry Hun, your Mother passed away about 10 minutes ago…..she continues to talk and I hear absolute. nothing.
I can’t tell you what happened. I just remember being in the hallway sliding down the wall to avoid hitting the floor. The nurse walks me to her side because I’m adamant that I see her. I enter her room and I’m met with my Mother, who looks like she’s sleeping.
The little girl inside me is kicking, screaming and yelling. Her Mother is gone. On the exterior, all I can do is silently cry and hold her hand….my Best Friend is gone. What in the entire fuck!!!
What part of the game of Life is this???
My Mother was a huge lover of all music. It is why I use music to get through so much in life. It why it is always playing around me. It’s not surprising that of all songs to play, this one was playing when I was told she had transitioned. Right down to the words…she was heavy on my mind and heart before I got the call. And just the mere title of the song confirms for me that she was ok…and that she didn’t want me to be sad. It was a Good Day. She was no longer suffering, no longer depending on someone else to care for her when we know that she hated it.
So, this song lyrics loop through my head several times a day right now. It triggers so much for me. Sometimes I hear it and I can smile, knowing that we had some good damn days. And other times I can hear it and cry, knowing that this was the song that I was listening to when I was told that she’d left me.
Still not easier…in fact, it’s harder than last month.
I temporarily lost access to my best friend. The love of my life. The other half of my soul.
I reflect on how I wish you were able to meet him. He’s really a great guy. I can only imagine the conversations that you two would have had. Oh my goodness. You’d talk for hours. He’s the one that would have a beer with you. I even think, he would of been the one that could sweet talk you out of the house on a trip with us.
There is still so much I want to pick up the phone and talk to you about. My feelings, what’s going on, and get your advice, hear you sing or make a joke about anything and everything.
Your picture scrolled across my TV when it went to sleep yesterday. I looked at it and smiled. It was Brother’s going away party. You were standing next to him with his friends. I remember that day like it was yesterday. You were tired that day and you didn’t feel well but you made your way to his party. The party that I orchestrated. You were ready to go before it got dark so that you were at home. It was super hot outside and for a moment I had to make you come inside. You were sweating profusely and just didn’t want to be around “family”. Oh I understand now. Hell I don’t want to be around them now myself.
I sometimes find myself mad that I didn’t understand things that you told me growing up. And then I think maybe back then those weren’t things that I needed to understand. But now I have so many questions. I can hear you now. “Just shut up talking and listen! You ask so many damn questions. Inquisitive Ivy…” LOL. I loved it. You may have been one of few people who walked this earth who can make me hush.
There are days where I really forget that you are truly gone. And when I remember it hurts like it’s Day One all over again. I restart the stages of grief at least a few times a week. But it is ok. My new grief counselor says it’s normal. You never get over it. You learn to live with it…now that sounds better than time heals all wounds.