Most days, I feel like I’m plugging along well… I feel like I’m doing a good job of living in the now and in the new-normal. I feel like I’m beginning to make peace with the terrain of life without my Mom. I think that I am near some semblance of that mixed bag of ‘better’ in regards to my grief.
But twice in the last four days, I’ve found myself ambushed entirely unexpectedly.
Thursday night, Husband and I had been having a long discussion, and at the conclusion I got up to bake for a function I had the next day. I went to the cupboard to take out the sugar and noticed the Karo syrup bottle sitting there. On the back of the bottle there was a recipe for pecan pie. I had one of those very complex trains of thought that happen in the course of an instant: “I need to make Husband a pecan pie sometime soon. I don’t want to use this recipe. I want to use Mom’s recipe. I got it once, but I lost it. I’ll have to ask her for it agai….” Crash.
Did you know it’s possible for part of your mind to still not believe that your Mom is dead even over a year after the fact began to be a reality? Yeah…. that’s something they don’t tell you in the Psych courses in college where they break the idea of grieving into those nice compartmentalized stages. Something else they don’t tell you is that when you have these little out-of-nowhere lapses, it’s absolutely heart-wrenching.
Then yesterday… well yesterday was a bad day. But it was a run-of-the-mill bad day. It was a ‘having odd relational issues with friends and acquaintances” bad day, a “minor disagreements with Husband” bad day, a “tired from not sleeping well and out of sorts as well” bad day. And even in the midst of it being a bad day, part of me felt, “it feels so good to have a good old normal bad day…. Where I don’t feel guilty about being upset about something ‘little,’ and where my sadness doesn’t come from catastrophic circumstances of family members or grief or deployments or anything else big and difficult.”
But I sat down to cry about this bad day… And then I realized that the only person in the world that I could think of to hash it through with–or even just to call to talk about nothing in particular until I felt a little better–the only person who fit that bill was Mom. And that’s when the bad day got really bad. That’s when the fragility and the frailty came out and I broke like a twig, and then all that ‘progress’ I thought I’d made in being able to have a regular old bad day was shattered.
I fool myself into thinking that I’m ‘better’ only to find that I’m not. I find that I’m healing and then feel the pain in a new way. I guess it’s just part of the journey.
Jessica of Hidden Willow commented recently that grieving the death of a parent is something that people don’t want to talk about. People don’t. It’s not so much that it’s grief and that’s messy and hard… though that’s part of it. I think it’s more that those of us who experience it are perpetually made to feel that because it is a ‘normal loss’ i.e. “Goes along with the natural order of things” that it is somehow less devastating and terrible. It’s just not true. It’s hard. It’s just hard. It hurts. No, I would never in a million years say that it holds a candle to losing a spouse or a child or having a fatal illness myself, but that doesn’t mean that grieving the loss of one or both parents is easy.
So if you wonder why I talk about this still… even here on my new blog, it’s because I think that somebody has to. It’s because it’s my experience. It’s what’s in me to write. I can’t get to the other things to write about until that’s down, and it screams to be shared so that others will know and others who have experienced it will hear other voices out there saying the same things or different things and can add that to their own experience.
And as for me, I’ll just keep walking this journey with it’s unexpected plunges. I grieve because I loved my Mom. Because her presence in my life was significant… Because we are wired for eternal relationships and I lost her way too soon. And with that definition the grief contains good.