I know that this blog was intended to discuss “all things writing”. But I am taking a little liberty to include this tribute to my Mom as she was so proud of my writing and my book. She continually took opportunities to mention it to everyone around her, even the hospital staff she spent so much time with in the last months of her life.
Over the years I have had occasion to sit with friends who have experienced the loss of a loved one and to remind them to extend grace to themselves during their grieving period….to remind them that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and that the process is unique to each person in its length and expression. However, extending that same grace to myself has been difficult.
It has been a little over two months since my Mom died….63 days….and the healing process is much different than the process one goes through with physical healing. When something breaks, it begins to mend a little each day, and as you progress, things get better and better. But with a “broken heart” it can appear to be getting better and then a day comes where you feel like you are back at the starting point all over again.
There are days where I will see something that reminds me of my Mom and it will bring a smile to my face thinking about how much she enjoyed it (chocolate, her grandchildren, talking with people at the coffee shop). There are even days when I see something that makes me laugh aloud (her driving the electric cart at Wal-Mart), and then laugh harder when I see the concerned looks on stranger’s faces around me… I’m sure wondering “who the crazy lady is” that is laughing alone while shopping.
But the hardest days are the ones that come when you finally realize that the little moments they gave you of empathy, acceptance or understanding, moments that seemed completely unremarkable at the time, were actually the “struts’ that were keeping you upright and moving forward.
This week I have been suffering with a terrible toothache. Being 52 (and under societies definition of “adult”), I took myself first to primary care to get the antibiotics and pain medicine I desperately needed. It then took me several days to finally break down and schedule an appointment with the dentist. I have always had an irrational fear of the dentist! I know it is completely unfair to make a sweeping statement that all dentists are “masochists” but for me they will always play the part of the “villain”.
My wonderful father has agreed to go to my appointment with me (as my entire family knows that if I am left to wait alone for any length of time in the waiting room I will end up bolting before they call my name). In situations like this, my Dad takes on the role of encourager. My appointment is three days away and he has already begun to build my courage with messages of “You can do this!” and “I know you are going to do great!”. And I am grateful for his support and company!
But oh how I miss my Mom! I miss her stroking my hair and agreeing with me that “Dentists are Yucky” and “toothaches are the worst”! I love that she would freely enter in to feeling sorry for me while I felt sorry for myself. To me, there is no better communication, no exchange of ideas, no pep talk, no motivational challenge, no problem solving, that feels better than True Understanding!
When my daughter has a bad day, I often get a text or phone call that starts with “Maaaaaaaaaaaam”. And I always respond with “Awwww….what’s wrong my little smooshy-face darling?”. And her favorite response from me is “You’re right…that sucks!” I know there is a place for encouragement, cheering them on to accomplish the difficult things, but sometimes you just want to feel sorry for yourself…and you just want someone else to feel sorry for you too. And my mother was really good at that! And even though I knew that, I don’t think I consciously thought about it until it wasn’t there anymore.
I knew this would be a process. I guess I just didn’t know that it would also include a process of discovery….discovering the little things that mean so much to us, the things we take for granted. And while I miss those things terribly, I am so grateful that I had those experiences and for what they brought to my life. And I am grateful to be reminded of how I can bring that to the lives of those around me.
Even in her passing, my mother is teaching me life lessons.
Love you Mom!