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Heavens Pavement

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It's the numbness that gets you...


WOR

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My mother didn't have a sick day in her life and at 91 years of age took no medications other than her lengthy list of vitamin supplements. In spite of having mild angina she stopped seeing Doctors in her early fifties and believed that was the key to her longevity.  She was completely coherent and funny and active for her age. After my father died some thirteen years back, she and I became incredibly close in spite of opposite communication styles. I loved (and still love) her more than anything and as an only child I made it my mission to make sure she had some joy in her life after my father's death, however I was able to engender that. I spoke to her every day and although she was two-thirds of the way across the country from me, we saw each other at least once a year. Her 90th birthday was pure magic, full of delicious foods and old family tales, lots of laugher and more love than you can even begin to imagine.

During the last year of her life she would warn me “you have to be ready for that phone call.” I’d tease her and tell her not to be silly, that she was going to live to be 100 years of age. and she would laugh wryly and say that she would go when it was no longer fun to be here. These declarations  from her came more and more frequently (as did her heart  issues) and after her 91st birthday in October she mentioned in passing that she didn’t think she would see her next birthday. I never took any of it to heart, not even for a moment.

The day before she died she complained on the phone that she felt the tiredest she'd ever felt in her entire life and that she was going to nap. An oddity for her and I honestly don't remember her ever napping once before. I spoke to her after she awakened and she mentioned sadly that she did not feel refreshed but rather yet more tired. We texted goodnight as we always did, a brief exchange of love and affection and she told me we'd chat in the morning. We did not.

The phone rang as.I was putting the last touches on my hair before work and when I saw the number, I simply knew. And, in a flurry of utterly numb busy-ness, I pulled myself together enough to go to Illinois to make her final arrangements and go through her stuff, my face drained white from the shock. Step after step, I somehow made it through. This was February. I had just started a new job in the new year and they were lovely, giving me bereavement pay and being supportive.

Somehow, I managed to go on with my life with very little support. I am single, no children and aside from a couple of close friends (one of whom is my ex), I have no one. My job is in outside sales and I found it helpful to put on a happy face and go sell, sell, sell. It took my mind off of my grief. I had a dream in which she comforted me (visitation type dream) that at first I thought would help me make it through my grief (newsflash, it did not). Then, my Mother's friend sent me some of her stuff which was lovely. In fact, several boxes came to me in California but the last box was the absolute catalyst that allowed my grief to completely envelop me and paralyze me. It was a box with a metal sculpture of Don Quixote that my Father had made and my mom's Buddha that she prayed to every day. A big loosely taped box with no "Fragile" warning, a small tapestry loosely wrapped around the Buddha and no other wrapping or precautions. The Buddha was broken from the carelessness and, for whatever reason, that plunged me into the deepest grief I've ever experienced. I wept copious tears, sobbing and forlorn. That was July.

I am worse now. Trying to edge myself out of this somehow, but how? I've never known sadness like this, never felt it so deeply or intimately nor had it permeate every aspect of my life until now. I can't seem to forgive my Mom's friend although I would like to do so. I cried all day today, on and off and am fighting back tears even now. I am clueless how to navigate any of this. My father's death was hideous and painful, the result of metastatic bladder cancer that made him suffer. I "pre-grieved" his death throughout his final months and, although I was heartbroken, I was also relieved he was out of his pain. This is different. This is worse. I feel it may never end. 

My usual way with words is not present here and I feel somewhat lucky to have strung these sentences together in some semblance of clarity. I keep reminding myself that Love is always the gift...

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Barely hanging on here by the skin of my teeth. No clue how I make it through my days when everything seems so tinted by my Mother's death. I swing between my natural ebullience and utter despair (not usually in my emotional repertoire). No one knows I am suffering, or if they do they are uncomfortable with it and don't know how to deal with me or the actual topic of death.

It's such a visceral stab to the heart. I was completely numb the first few months but patted myself on the back for having "transcended" my grief. I have not. It colors every moment of my days though, as implied, I muster through somehow. Once I am home for the day, after work or after the gym, I cry but my tears are anything but cathartic. They seem to draw me even deeper into my sadness, an endless loop that makes me think I shall always feel this way. And I probably will at some level. My hope is that I will evolve to the point that my grief is just a wee undercurrent and I will glide across the waters of Life only seeing that same shadow in the depths when I look super closely. 

I've lost friends over my sadness. About four months after my Mom died an old friend called to tell me his had just crossed over. I know enough about life to realize I shouldn't criticize anyone for how they deal with their grief. Only problem? He had no sadness and could only talk about the money he was getting along with all of the goodies he took from her storage. It made me physically ill to hear him speak that way but, as said, who am I to judge? The last straw was when he complained that I seemed to be allowing my Mom's death to color my life and that I "should be over it by now," I broke off an almost life long friendship. And you know what? I don't miss him or his words or his opinions. 

Where am I going with all of this? I don't know. But I do realize that since my Mom left this world that I feel emotionally disenfranchised and that I want to do something else other than what I do in life. Nothing seems to have the same meaning to me as it once did but today I shall seek some meaning and maybe even a little joy. On verra...

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Dear Wor,

Losing your mother has to be one of the most life-changing, gutting experiences that I can think of. And for an only child with no significant other or siblings, the loss must feel  intensely destabilizing and debilitating in it's enormity. 

I am sitting here in a quiet room at home right now, feeling much empathy in my heart for your loss. I truly am sorry.

I lost my Dad in 1998 and we were extremely close. Like you, I became closer to my mom as the years went on and the loss of my dad I somehow came to terms with. But losing my mom has been much more difficult and that more complex for me to navigate my way through.

It's been three years this September 2nd since she passed and although the agony and shock has lessened, it has morphed into the deepest sadness I have ever known. It has permeated every facet of my life too. Distraction with other things: home, kids, husband, friends etc., helps somewhat, but my grief remains below the surface of everyday normality and routine, waiting for some vulnerable moment or trigger and then I'm completely enveloped once again. 

How do you reconcile a lifetime of a mother/child relationship? How do you come to terms with it being, for lack of a better word, 'over'? That is something I just can't comprehend let alone lay to rest. Your mom's death was pretty recent from what I read, (February 2022?) so it is still very soon in your grief journey to feel anything other than what you described. 

I'm so sorry about the Buddha statue too. It is like another loss because it was tied so closely to your mom. I would have had an extremely hard time with that as well. We had a secondary loss after my mother's death too. Someone broke into her storage locker at her apartment and stole all of her Christmas decorations shortly after she passed. There were precious heirloom things in there & childhood memories from happier times. None of it was recovered. So those links to my parents and our family history are gone forever and it just intensifies the loss even more. 

Sometimes I think death brings out the worst in people too - like your friend. For me it was my sister, from whom I'm still estranged since my mom's death. Same kind of selfishness regarding money, possessions etc. 

I'm sorry... I wish I had better advice. I wish there was a way for us to magically be happy again. Or at least functioning day to day without feeling like you're going insane. I know  studies say humans need other humans and social connections because we evolved to be social creatures, but it's hard. No group or individual can replace what we had with our moms but forging new relationships and experiences could keep us from giving up or becoming hermits. 

I wish us both courage as we try to live our lives without our moms. Xo

 

 

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Traz, 

Thanks so much for your lovely words. Really means a lot to me. I think losing a mother is a much more complicated and visceral loss. You mentioned that your Dad's death brought you closer over the years to your Mother, just like it did for me and my Mother. At least we have that. Can you even begin to imagine how much more complex the loss would be like with an estranged/distant relationship? 

I know that the agony will lessen at some point. Right now, as you say, I am in shock and agony. I can not believe I am saying that I look forward to sadness taking its place but I do. I hope you had some support on September 2nd and made it through okay. I dread next February 3rd (plus my Dad left this earth 13 years ago February 21st, not a great month in my family).

I have a business meeting later today and it's an important one. Not sure if I can navigate it without disassociating. That's my latest issue. I disassociate and blank out mentally and find myself simply nodding matter-of-factly at people and don't have a clue what they're talking about. 

Yeah, the broken Buddha was a catalyst of yet more grief for some reason. I was packing for this business trip and there it was in my closet, its head next to it, staring blankly at me which made me cry. My friend, who is very handy with this sort of thing, is going to help me put it back together (it was a clean break). It was also the carelessness with it (fro the woman who packed it) that hurt the most. I gave her my Mother's car and computer and the disregard on her part was a knife in my side.

I too wish there was a way for us both to be magically happy again (or functioning!) but find myself isolating more and more. I am single on top of all of this but can't even begin to think about dating. I just can't.

I wish you courage (and me!) and hope that we both can start to see a little magic at least in small daily things. As the French say "les petits plaisirs" (little pleasures...like the sunrise or a beautiful ocean view, piece of stunning art, etc). Xo

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Hi Wor,

You are very welcome. I hope that my experiences and feelings help you somehow. Grief, while universal is still so individual and different for everyone. 

I hope your meeting went well without too much dissociation. It's hard when life demands the executive functions of your brain to still be sharp and attentive when you feel anything but. I go through that still, but the early days were the hardest. Yeah, the anniversary dates are always hard and I hope you find a way to cope when yours comes around in February. 

I really hope your mom's Buddah statue can be repaired also. I get it - for someone to be so careless with something precious of your mom's must feel like she completely disregarded her as a person. And disrespected her as well. I am sorry that happened to you. 

No, if I were single and suffering from a recent loss, I couldn't think about dating either. It's probably better to give yourself the time you need right now. 

My mom passed away 6 months before Covid hit. I took care of her for 5 years until she died. 2020 was going to be a year of healing for me and I was going to try and get back to making art again. Then my two adult kids moved back in and we're all just trying not to kill each other now. Just kidding, lol. It's not that bad. 

There will come a time when you'll participate in life again, do interesting things and find joy. Little pleasures as you mentioned, mean so much and possibly even more to the grieving. 

Take care xo

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