08 October 2008

Time Since... Five Months

I remembered the other day when Darren and I were first married, unpacking and setting up home in that beginning of us. Darren had a collection of 'last things', those items that seem to not be able to find a place to be and in his frustration he blurted out, "Mom". Because always when a child calls for his mother, no matter what age, there is that natural expectation that mom will be there to find a solution, the fall-back plan, that quiet support... always there for you. Well, it is gone. It's like when participating in a trust exercise... lean back into someone's arms, trusting they will catch you. Will they? or will I just keep tumbling down... down? I have just finished Joan Dideon's Year of Magical Thinking and this passage on grief helped me to not feel so crazy - or maybe feel ok about being crazy.
"Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days of weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect this shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes. In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be "healing." A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to "get through it," rise to the occasion, exhibit the strength that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day? We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself."
And here is where my heart aches for my father. Our family is strong, but not many know the experiences we have journeyed through to build that strength. Harsh, violent, traumatic events, even the circumstances that caused my mother's death -- a tragic accident are hard to take, but take them we have and a familial bond of protection and endurance and love keeps us going when the odds seem stacked against us.

I heard about a plane wreck where a young mother and her husband were critically burned. Months of rehab - lives forever changed. I participated in an online auction where bloggers got together and raised over 100,000 dollars for their benefit. I bought a great necklace with a giant metal flower. I read about their recovery and pray for healing for this family and a sneaking thought enters my mind, "things could be worse" but for me, at this moment, grieving the loss of my mother is my worst. One day it will be put in perspective, but for now this is the lowest point. I hurt. We all do.

A niece wrote on her blog the reasons she blogs. I thought about why I do it. I tell the kids as I am snapping pictures that I am a documenter. It is a way to bear witness to the blessings in every day. I don't usually post about the days like today when I literally cannot stop crying and that moving through the moments is like being drowned in maple syrup so slow and sticky and tired. Or that I snap at the kids and Darren and forget too often that they are struggling too. No I post about the small "gifts of goodness" like vegetable pizza with whole wheat dough, or a new yellow lampshade, or the magical qualities of lucky jello. Another reason is my young nieces started the family blogging trend and my mother loved it. She would be so excited when they posted something new and say to me, "have you read the girls' blogspots?". I smile when I think about it. Maybe these virtual messages can be viewed much further away than just on a computer screen. I like to believe she knows how much we miss her and love her and love each other.


Tamara Jacobs said...

Thank you for your post. My heart aches so heavily with grief too from losing Grandma. I miss her so much. Like this morning I wanted to call her up and tell her how I'm learning to sew. I know she would have been excited. I love what you said about her being able to read our messages somehow. I wonder if she misses us too or if it is but a blink to her before we will reunite. I hope that your pain eases today...thank you for sharing your beautiful and healing thoughts. It's good for me to read. love you.

melforbes said...

Thank you...you put words to all of my feelings and thoughts that are rambling around in my head. The past week I have been real teary and just so peacefully sad. The pure panic has subsided and now it is just simply pure sadness for the loss of an anchor, a calmer, a mother. I love you De..you've been a great strength to all of us. love, Mel

Kaitlan said...

My heart aches for you and your family. Every now and then I will stop and think of your mom, and remember how remarkable a person she was and still is, always. The other day Hailey was wearing a green jacket and pants that your mom gave to her and at the same time Gracie was snuggling in a blanket that she made. It put a smile on my face. Your mom always remembered us, and sent us cards, letters, and emails. She cared for everyone. Give your dad a hug for us next time you see him. Hope your day gets better, but remember a good, hard cry is healthy for the soul. All our love.

Kaitlan, Nate, and the girls.

brandonandlexee said...

I have to tell you that I think about your mom a lot and I am so sorry that you and your family have to go through this. It is something I can't even pretend to understand. Thanks for being so open with what you are feeling...see ya, Lex