This is from about a year and a half ago, a few months after my mom died. I came across it today and realized how many of those things are still true, but also how I’ve grown around them as they have become part of my life. Now I have Kora, and though the process of being pregnant and having a new baby has had many moments of grief without my mother, these have still been majorly joyful experiences. Reading this, I have realized that I am growing stronger than I ever would have expected in 18 months. I’m hurting, but I’m also okay. I didn’t feel ready to get pregnant when it happened, that wasn’t the plan….for many reasons, including the ones mentioned in my words below. But it did happen, and I’m so glad it did. Maybe I never would have felt ready. Maybe I’ll always hurt, but I don’t mind. There are new loves ahead, but never the same love that was lost. Life keeps rolling along. As Kora grows up, I can only hope that my daughter will know her mom loves her as much as I always knew mine loved me.
The day before she died, she couldn’t even talk. I lay in bed with her. I couldn’t even tell if she was awake, she had barely moved or made a sound day. I tried to tell her good things, sweet things, but the tears came despite my best intentions and carried me away. I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t mean for her to hear, but I have a habit of hyperventilating when I’m really upset. As I tried to slow my breathing, I felt a hand on my back. She had moved her hand for the first time all day and was rubbing my back. Her eyes were still closed, but there were tears coming out the sides of them. In a few hours, there were white streaks of salt crusted along the corners of her eyes. She had called out the day before, the last loud thing she had said in a painful voice, “I don’t want to die yet.”
I realized then that she was helpless. And I was helpless.
It was the helplessness that hurt so much then, and I see it in the eyes of my family and friends when they look at me. Painful helplessness is not what I wish for them, or you, but I have to get this out into the universe or I will explode.
My world feels so much smaller without her enthusiasm. I feel like I have lost an important part of myself. I was always the dreamer, an optimist. No hurt is beyond mending. Happy endings are always possible. I am struggling now, because I question that.
I am tentative without the strongly woven net of love beneath me.
I feel uncertain excitement with my successes. Recently I have achieved two goals that my mom knew I was working towards. After each, I was excited, and told my dad and Dane, who congratulated me and said they were proud of me. Then there was a hollowness, a feeling like neither really happened, a “This is it?” Because I guess, connected to those achievements, was the knowledge that I would make my mom proud and excited, maybe more than anyone. She would probably be more excited than me. That’s just how she was.
I wish I had told my mom more often how much I appreciated her enthusiasm and joy. On trips. With family and co-workers. With me and my small successes. If I had told her about these recent successes, she would have told the family and they would have known, and she would have smiled at me and maybe done a “whooo-hoo!” I mean, I could tell my family this stuff. Dane would say “WHOOOO-HOO” if I wanted him too. It’s not about that. I guess I just am realizing that I was irreplaceable to someone who was irreplaceable to me. I took it for granted, how proud she was of me, how much everything in my life meant to her.
It’s hard to think about all the times that that will happen again in future years. Will every important good thing hurt this much?
This one looms larger than the others: As much as I look forward to starting a family with Dane one day, I currently cannot bear the thought of my mom not being there when I am pregnant. I can’t bear the idea of her not being there to meet her grandkids. I would not be able to cope with that right now. I probably won’t be able to for awhile.
I have people who love me, I know, but it’s very lonely. I am very lonely. There’s no one to share this special grief with really, no one who will understand completely. That’s the nature of it, though.
Maybe you’ll read it an relate in some way. Maybe someone who loved you died, and you feel an absence of love, too. Maybe you got dumped by someone you thought you’d found forever in. Or maybe you aren’t speaking to your best friend. I’m not saying no one can relate to this kind of grief, just that every grief of this kind is personal and unique.
The beauty of a blog post is this: It helps me to write about it and get it out there.
If it helps you to know you’re not alone in your pain, great. If it makes you depressed, you can stop reading it or forget that you did immediately.
I’ll come up with something happier for you tomorrow. Promise.
One thought on “My Mom, Motherhood, Moving through Grief”
What a loving tribute to how big a part of your life your mother’s presence was. From someone else’s Mom…be kind to yourself and know she would be so proud of you for carrying on moving forward with your goals.