I was reading over my 3 month post and trying to see how things have changed since then. Or how I have changed/grown since then, in my journey with grief. I can say that I feel like I cry a lot less than I was. Not because I'm any less sad, but maybe I'm making some progress in getting to that acceptance stage. Sure, certain memories and places still summon the tears. Even simple conversations can lead to a minor meltdown. Like this past weekend, when my sister and I were talking about Mom's last birthday we celebrated with her. We both cried and then just as quickly, we recouped and went about our day. We almost always talk about Mom - But it's not always sad; we have so many funny memories of her. Believe me, when I tell you, there were very few moments with Mom and us girls that were uneventful. We could easily have a story for every day of the week.
We'll always talk about her and keep her memory alive - It'll never get old. I know that.
What I can - still - say is that I continue to think about Mom every day. I think I'm at the stage where I'm wrestling with a lot of guilt. A lot of 'what ifs' and 'should haves'. My husband asked me a while ago, when we were working through a sob fest with me, if I had any guilt and he said that I shouldn't. I said very quickly that I certainly did have plenty of guilt. It's the kind that eats at you, because you start wishing you'd done things that you kept saying you'd get to. Now, the chance is gone and I have to live with it.
- I wish I'd taken Mom dancing at Adelphia when she asked and not figured we'd get there eventually.
- I wish I'd filled out the correct disability paperwork so Mom had money coming in...BEFORE she died.(she hated not having her own)
- I wish I'd brought her over for the weekend, like she'd asked a month or so before...
- I wish I'd asked more questions of the doctors and had been more educated about lung cancer.
- I wish I'd listened to her and not dismissed her fears -
- I wish I'd really just asked her what she wanted to do in regards to her treatment...
I feel like she did it for us.
- I wish I'd seen that email on July 4th when she emailed me late at night - The next day, she was at the ER and never came home.
- I wish I'd answered her last phone call -
- I wish I'd been more affectionate with her
- I wish I'd had more patience sometimes
- I wish I'd sat in the hospital room with her longer - even though she was unaware of my presence.
I could go on and on but I won't. If any of my friends or family read this, I know they'd say that I'm so wrong for feeling this way. Even the monsignor at mom's funeral mass said so... but I struggle with it, still. I hate all these what ifs and should haves. I just want that chance to do it over and it differently. When we knew she had breast cancer, we felt like we had a fighting chance - then she was diagnosed with the lung cancer not even a month later, and we suited up and went to war. Sometimes, when I sit in the quiet and really think about it, I realize that it was such a fast moving journey. We just didn't get the TIME we needed. Mom didn't get the time SHE needed.
Grief really bites the big one and I guess this is the kind of thing you go through. A few months after Mom passed, I experienced a crazy ass panic attack at Wal-Mart... of all places. I had no idea what was going on, I just knew that I felt like a basket case and couldn't wait to get out of there. I was shaky, felt like my feet were not touching the ground and I needed to hold onto something. I remember grabbing onto a Doritos display closest to the checkout and just kind of stood there. (this was actually funny when I was relaying the incident to my sister). But that really scared me. Then in the months that followed, it seemed to happen more. I finally realized that these were panic attacks. I'd never experienced that in my life before. A few days ago, I had another one and now I can't help but wonder if it's something like PTSD, that I'm experiencing. Does that happen to people who have suffered such a personal loss? Not liking it, at all. (nope, not at all) **that was for you, Tam**
I just wish that we were granted one last conversation with someone who has passed on - I need to know that Mom's not mad or upset with me or us... That she feels we did what was best for her. I hate this feeling. The doctors are quick to console you and tell you that "this is the right decision" .. and it's "what's best".. She's just a patient to them. She's the woman in Room #4. She didn't talk them through their first heartbreak, she didn't run them to CHOP in a snowstorm, in a taxi, because she wanted to save their life, she didn't wipe away their tears or nurse their skinned knees from roller skates and bike wheelies. They didn't call her Mom... We did. She was (is) our Mom and she's gone. I don't know how anyone ever gets over that. Sometimes I awake from a dream and then gasp out loud "Oh my gosh, Mom actually died".. What the fuck?
I thought it was weird at first, but one day I had a long conversation with Mom.. Well, I guess it's not a conversation unless more than one person is talking... so I guess I was just talking to her. Once I started, I was so at ease with it. (I'm listening to music on my iPhone while writing this and a song called "You're not alone" by Meredith Andrews just came on). Thanks Mom.
When I was looking through last year's Christmas photos, I realized that there will be no more pictures of Mom in the coming holidays etc. It's a dreadful feeling, deep down in my gut. I can't stand the thought of it. It almost makes me lose my breath, just considering it. I'm a big fan of Jodi Picoult and some of the lines in her books have stuck with me forever... These come to mind, so often:
“There should be a statute of limitation on grief. A rulebook that says it is all right to wake up crying, but only for a month. That after 42 days you will no longer turn with your heart racing, certain you have heard her call out your name. That there will be no fine imposed if you feel the need to clean out her desk; take down her artwork from the refrigerator; turn over a school portrait as you pass - if only because it cuts you fresh again to see it. That it's okay to measure the time she has been gone, the way we once measured her birthdays.”
― Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper
― Jodi Picoult - My Sister's Keeper
"Someone once told me that when you give birth to a daughter, you've just met the person whose hand you'll be holding the day you die" - Jodi Picoult - Change Of Heart
I'm sure it's because it's still early, but I catch myself referring to Mom in the present. I'll say "Oh, my mom says that".. or "My mom likes that too". I don't know if people pick up on it and frankly, I don't care what they think about it.. It's just that I notice it. It's a silly thing to even worry about.
I just have to pray each day for strength and wisdom to work through this as best I can. It's not the easiest thing in the world. There are good days and bad days.. but I do think it's getting easier.
I'm sorry, if you're a follower of my blog, and you're already sick of my posts about grief, loss and all that good stuff. I've always been a writer and have always found peace with journaling my emotions.. whether they were good or bad.
I decided to post some pics of Mom today, so that there is a face to go with all these posts - She was so cute and tiny. The first one is a picture after the Johnny Maestro concert that I took her to. She had no idea where we were going but was thrilled when she saw him come out on stage! The 2nd pic is Mom and her cousin.... at my bridal shower. They look like sisters...