I was talking with my sister today. Lots of ranting about life and stuff. Then the inevitable pause in the conversation.
"So. How are you doing?"
Just a few simple words. But we each knew what we were asking.
We're really asking how the grieving is going. How are you holding up? Are you still in disbelief, do you still think about calling her on the phone and then realize she gone, do you still cry at odd times...the waves crashing over your soul, making you feel like you're drowning in your tears and you can't catch a breath.
"How are you doing?"
I think I'm doing ok. Most of the time. It's been two weeks since I sobbed on my bed for 15 minutes then picked up the broken pieces of my tear stained heart and shoved them back into my aching chest.
It's been three months. I like to think my Mom is getting settled up there in heaven and is putting her final touches on a new job for The Husband, amongst a bunch of other stuff. Don't get me wrong. I know God has it all organized but if you knew my Mom, you'd know that she's already attended several meetings about the whole issue, come up with a few choice soundbites that succinctly put it all into perspective and then pushed the start date up about 2 months.
It's how she rolls.
Anywhoo, in talking with my sister today it made me realize that I'm doing ok. There's a lot of stuff in my life I'm dealing with but when it comes to Mom...well, I think I'm where I'm suppose to be. Grieving, but slowly moving through this whole process of saying good bye to a beloved person.
Will I ever stop missing her? No. I don't want to ever get to that place. Do I want my heart to heal? Yes, but I want those scars to remain on my heart forever. They mean she was loved, always missed, never forgotten. But I have to wake up every day and carry on. Boy would she be pissed if I didn't do that. If every person that ever loved her didn't do that.
And so we get up every morning and brush our teeth, pluck the new grey hairs out of our eyebrows and make a pot of coffee. We carry on.
Part of the grieving for me has been a desperate need to remember my mom as she was before the cancer entered her brain. Before the chemo. Before she found a lump in her breast. It was so difficult right after she died to remember her as she truly was for most of her life, before the cancer slowly stole her away. And it was so difficult to retrieve any positive pictures in my mind.
I started to dream about my mom shortly after she passed away. Most of them were foggy, bits and pieces that I would try desperately to put back together in my mind when I awoke. They were moments of her as she used to be, not wasting away, but vibrantly alive...but they were like viewing snapshots of faded pictures when I awoke and I couldn't cling to their images, no matter how hard I tried.
But one night about a month after she died, I entered a garden in my dream. There was a patio, and a white trellis. The sun was shining but there was cool shade on the other side of the trellis...trees and flowers, white chairs in a big semi circle on the grass.
I walked out into the garden and saw people sitting in the chairs. I knew there was a person sitting in a chair just on the other side of the trellis and I was drawn to that spot. I walked to it, turned and looked. Mom was sitting in the chair, smiling, radiant, so happy.
"MOM. MOM! What are you doing here??? You're suppose to be dead. You died."
I know. Even in my dreams I ooze poetic verse.
Mom stood up. Smiling. So so smiling.
"The doctors were wrong! The cancer's gone. I'm empty of cancer! They did tests. It's gone."
Smiling smiling smiling.
And I hugged her fiercely. And we hugged and hugged and hugged and I didn't let go. And she didn't let go. I was hugging my Mom in the garden, surrounded by summer trees, sun and the flowers that she so loved. There were other people, all sitting in the chairs, watching us. I didn't see their faces but I knew they were loved ones. In her favourite place to be. The garden. Loved ones. Flowers.
I felt the need to write this down tonight. To remember. Because I'm learning that part of grieving is remembering. Remembering that it's ok to smile at the good thoughts, important to think about the happy times, let go of the "why's" and "it's not fair" and focus on the carrying on.
Do I still cry? Yes. But not as often.
Do I still miss her? Oh, yes, but I'm learning to accept this new normal.
Am I still angry? No. And I can't tell you how grateful I am to have moved past that. I am so grateful that I don't feel like putting my fist through the wall or breaking every plate in my cupboard anymore.
Do I still feel disbelief? This has all of a sudden gone away. It was strange to have gone through the last few months of her life, knowing she was dying, care for her, be there when she passed away, see her in her coffin, and then be driving down the road two months later and be hit with a huge wave of shock with the realization that she was gone. She was really gone. For good. For ever.
(For the record..if you were driving on the #1 Hwy from Chilliwack about a month ago and saw a deranged lady in a white minivan crying like a banshee? Ya. That was me.)
Have I stopped reliving my Mom's last moments over and over in my head? Yes. And I'm ok with that. Because I'm also learning that in order for grieving to happen, to keep moving through this whole process, I have to let them happen. Not fight it. Not perseverate on it. I know I was having issues with those last few hours...why didn't I realize sooner, why didn't I call the siblings that weren't there, what should I have done differently, but also just desperate to NOT forget those last few hours and moments.
Writing them down gave me permission to stop thinking about it over and over. I know I can go back and read it if I feel like I'm forgetting. That's what I felt drawn to do tonight. Write down my dream. I won't forget.
And that is comforting. It's not a hug from Mom, but it's comforting.
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