Life’s Rubber Band

Major life events become

Rubber bands wrapped

Around our life time.

As time passes

It can stretch

To make it

Seem like forever

And when it relaxes

The event

No matter how long ago

Seems like mere days

Have gone by.

Years may pass

Before the band

Loses its elasticity

And the event eases

Itself into real time.

Until that happens,

Humanity is stuck

In a limbo of

Push and pull

On our conscious memory.

Time seems to move fast

And slow all at once.

And we just drift with it.

 

One year ago today, my mom went into the hospital, for what would turn out to be, the last time. It’s another one of those firsts that I’ve had to face since my mom passed. I’m running out of time to have those first moments though. In five weeks it will be a year since she died. That in and of itself seems impossible. That day, her last in this house seems so long ago, yet it seems like it happened last week — such a strange sensation, to bounce from one distance of time to another. Somehow, I’ve found the strength to get through my first summer without her, the first fall, her birthday, holidays, all without her here. There have been moments of unbelievable pain and moments of peace where I’ve found some kind of acceptance. Even though pure acceptance has yet to materialize in my heart, I still can’t believe she’s gone and in some ways, now that so much time has passed, I can. And back and forth I go.

Good News!

So, good news! I passed my exams with a high enough average score to qualify for an internship with a transcription company! Yeah!! I’ll find out more details tomorrow, and I’m pretty anxious about it. I’m not questioning my skills or abilities; I’m wondering whether or not my time as a caregiver will be an obstacle to me getting a job. I haven’t worked since the summer of 2005. I spent the last 13 years caring for my mother full time. Ideally, I’m hoping my work will speak enough about who I am that the work gap won’t be a factor for prospective employers. Realistically I know there are people out there who don’t see caregiving for an elderly parent or a family member as work. My own siblings slightly fall into that category, although now that our mother is gone, I feel like they are beginning to see what my reality was like. It was work. It was 16 hour days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year nonstop. I’m hoping those I encounter in my job search will be empathetic and realize that what I did was work. I have the skills to do this job well and be an asset to any company I end up working for. I just hope I get the opportunity to prove my worth and the 13-year work gap won’t be a hindrance. I hope potential employers will see that my caregiving shows that I am dedicated, that I am a hard worker, and I would be a valuable employee to add to their team. So onwards and upwards with fingers crossed.

The Soccer-Playing T-Rex

You had been too quiet for too long when I went to look for you. I found you standing at your parents’ window that overlooked the backyard. I walked over and kneeled next to you. You were so focused on what was going on in the yard that you barely noticed me.

“What are you looking at?” I asked you. I had looked outside and didn’t see anything.

“Kardhu (the family’s golden retriever).” You replied your eyes never leaving the scene you were seeing.

“What is Kardhu doing?” I asked watching you.

“Soccer.” You replied with such conviction that I almost believed it was what you were seeing.

“He’s playing soccer?” I asked. You nod, and then you laugh.

“What’s funny?” I asked him.

“T-rex.” You said as you glance at me with your laughing blue eyes.

My eyes grew wide, and I whispered, “Kardhu is playing with a T-rex?”

You laugh and look at me, your gaze piercing my soul with a curious look as if you were gauging if I was really seeing what you were seeing or not.

“Who’s winning?” I asked you. You think about this for a second before saying, ‘Kardhu is.”

“He is?” I ask. You look at me, and I can tell you want to tell me something, but your words aren’t quite there yet. You shorten your arms like a T-rex and start growling at me.

“Oh because Kardhu has four good legs and T-rex has two?” You nod with such a grin on your face, and you come at me with your T-rex legs, and we dissolve into a fit of giggles on the floor. As I look at you, I can’t believe an almost three-year-old has such an imagination, and I hope it is something you never lose.

The Saddest Birthday Cake

I stand with my hands gripping

The edge of the counter

Tears spilling to

The floor.

I can barely look at it

My birthday cake.

Here I am.

First birthday without her

And I stand alone.

No family came to celebrate

No family came to support me

During what is the most

Difficult day so far.

The aching for her

Is unbearable.

My heart cracks again

And sobs fall

From trembling lips.

No lit candles this year.

I am so sad

I am so angry

I am so lonely.

And another year begins.

Grateful

Through all the tears I’ve shed

I’ve found clarity

Like rain washing away fog

Even though it hurts

I’m grateful.

Even though my heart is aching

I’m grateful.

Grateful to have had her

In my life.

My arms long to hold her again

Because she was such

A wonderful mother

And provided me with

Such warming love.

And even though it

Will never be enough

I’m grateful to know

That she will always be

With me.

A Riptide of Grief

Hi all,

Sorry I’ve been quiet for a few days now. I was doing fine. Getting the house ready for Christmas and thinking I was dealing with my grief pretty well. And then wham! I got caught in a massive riptide of grief that dragged me off my feet, and I’ve been trying to find my footing again ever since. I had heard that the first Christmas after a significant loss is hard. Hard is the most useless word to describe it. For me, it has been utterly debilitating to the point that I can’t do anything much except cry. The pain I’ve felt the past two days has been spiritually excruciating. I miss my mom more now than at any other time during this grief “process.” Yesterday I thought I’d try to make myself feel better by putting the lights on my little tree. After finishing, I was looking at it thinking how cold and harsh the lights looked this year. There was no soft twinkling glow at all. There was no anticipation of the upcoming holiday that I had been looking for. I felt even more miserable and also thought about taking the lights down again and putting the tree away. I’ve contemplated not having Christmas at all this year because the pain is just so intense. I’m not seeing the world as it is right now and I know it. I’ve heard of rose-colored glasses; I wonder what color grief colored glasses are. I’m thinking a swampy greenish-brown color. I feel like I’m just treading water until the day that I’m dreading arrives and departs as it does every year, just surviving instead of living. I don’t know how to change my mentality but I know I want to. I hate feeling this way. My mom wouldn’t want me to feel this way. But if I try to swim against the grief, I know it will just drag me out of my life even further, and I’ll drown. So I’ll just keep treading and try to move forward towards Christmas and hope I find a way to get through it without her.

A Christmas Haunting

The closer Christmas approaches

The more I feel you near.

Memories won’t stop unfolding

And it’s leaving me in tears.

You’re ghosting all the corners

Of every single room

Tis the season of light and merriment

And I’m deep in grief and gloom

I’m hearing snatches of your voice

As if your still here with me

I see the brightness of your love

in the lights on the Christmas tree

I don’t know how to do this

The holidays without you

How do I heal this ache in my soul

And figure out what to do.

 

This poem doesn’t want to be finished. I’ve been trying for several days now, and this is where it wants to end. Maybe once I get through this challenging time I’ll be able to look back and come up with an ending, I don’t know.

Happy Birthday, Mom

Swedish princess cake

Today would have been my mother’s 88th birthday. She was born in Stockholm, Sweden and every year for her birthday she had to have a Princess Torte (cake). A Princess cake is a Swedish dessert with white cake surrounded by layers of whipped cream, raspberry jam, and a thick cream filling, surrounded by a cover of green marzipan (almond paste), dusted with powdered sugar with a frosted pink rose on top. When we lived in Massachusetts, my sister would drive to Worcester to The Crown Bakery and get one for her every November. Once we moved to Maine, that became too much of a drive, so poor mom was deprived of her cake for a couple of years. Then last year, I found a European Bakery near where we live and to my surprise and delight, they sold princess cakes. I arranged to get one for her, and she was absolutely stunned when she saw it. She ate the entire 8-inch cake herself over the next week and said she wanted more. Last spring when she was in the hospital I got one for Mother’s Day to make it more special. It was one of the last solid foods she ate before she passed. I’m missing her incredibly today but having the memory of last year’s successful surprise is helping me immensely. So, happy birthday mom, wherever you are, I miss you incredibly, and I love you like crazy.

Checking In

I’m just checking in.

To tell you all how I’ve been

I keep surfacing for air

And looking here and there

To see if the grief is gone

To see if life can go on.

But grief’s a cheeky bugger

And not much of a hugger

He tends to sneak up on me

From behind where I cannot see

So I quickly dive back down

Trying to find smiles in all the frowns

And try to be patient with me

Because that’s what mom would want to see.