One Year

Today (July 19–despite the timestamp) marks the end of one year without my Mom.

I can’t believe that it’s been one year. It is inconceivable to me that she has missed one full year of Little Miss’s life. When she died, LM was a little blob of baby–not crawling–just rolling over. She gave winning smiles, and had quite a personality, but she was so far away from the little person that she is now. Mom missed her crawling, her walking, her first words. She missed hearing about her saying, “Butt Boost,” barking at every dog she sees, and all of her adorable dancing.

She has missed a year in my life as well. I survived my first deployment. I moved into a new house that she has never seen. I traveled 7000 miles or so. And I made a decision to begin moving in a new ‘vocational direction.’

I miss her. How can it have been a full year already? The most painful thing about today is that it makes her feel so far away. All year long I’ve known that at least her life was just last year. Now I don’t have that. Now all I have is distance. A year is a long time…. 365 days. One whole trip around the sun.

The thing is, a good part of me doesn’t think that the world should have travelled around the sun again… A part of me wishes that the world had stopped… Because I want the world to take notice that an AMAZING woman ISN’T HERE anymore.

I said elsewhere that this day doesn’t make her any more gone than she was yesterday or she will be tomorrow, but this day makes the finality hit home. Mom is not on deployment like Andy was. She is not coming back. The missing doesn’t stop.

I have decided, for the record, that I hate the word “acceptance.” That is supposed to be the phase of grief that you aspire to. I am an overachiever, you know, so logically I should want to get to that stage. I refuse. I will not contentedly accept the fact that my Mom died a horrible death due to a horrible disease.

I will however allow for integration. That is what I want my ‘final stage of grief’ to look like. I want to allow the grief and the missing and the hurt to be as big as it is. As big as it needs to be. And that is very, very big. But I want to be able to coexist with that. I think I am moving into “integration.” I still hurt. I still miss her every day. But my every waking thought isn’t tied up with Mom and missing her. I will never be one of those people who can look back at this experience and say, “I’m really thankful that this happened because I learned so much and gained all of these new insights.” If I could have traded the lessons and still had my Mom–healthy and free of pain, I would in a heartbeat. But… The grief and the missing are only a part of Val now. They are no longer the black hole-like vortex sucking all of me in and leaving me no light.

My Mom was one hell of a woman. She would have understood my meltdown today. She would have understood my tears. Days like today were hard for her too. But she would have wanted me to smile today, and to celebrate her and the life that she led instead of just focusing on her death, and so I did.

Mom was tough, and strong, and no-nonsense, but she was also incredibly compassionate. She loved nurturing people, giving to folks in small ways. So today, I wanted to honor her by doing the same. I wanted to allow her to continue giving. So… I brought Yellow Roses and buttons that said, “Cancer Sucks” to a nearby cancer center. I left them at the front desk of the infusion center with instructions to give them to anyone who came in for a treatment today. And I hope in some small way, they will be tangible tokens of encouragement to the folks who recieved them.

Mom would have loved the sentiment “Cancer Sucks.” She didn’t mince words. If she felt like hammered dog shit, she told you that she felt like hammered dog shit. I think she’d get a kick out of the buttons.

So it’s been a year… And I miss my Mom. I will always miss my Mom. I wish she had never had to hear the word, “cancer” and I wish she was still here to drive me nuts with unsolicited advice regarding my raising of Little Miss. I wish she was here to teach Little Miss to flip people off, and to say the words, “Male Dominant Stupid Gene.” I wish she was here to personally infuse her grand daughter (and any other grandkids who may come) with her grit and her love of life. And I wish she was here so I could hug her, call her to process through the craziness of people and to remind me that the democrats are always right.

I miss her. And that will always be part of me. And that is as it should be.

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