This Journey

Yesterday was a tough one for me. I woke up feeling the gaping hole in my heart that my mom has left and I started crying. I got up and cried. I ate breakfast and cried. It’s safe to say I tapped into that maelstrom that has been brewing within me. By last night I was so exhausted and cried out I fell asleep quickly and would have slept through the night if it hadn’t been for the nightmare. A nightmare where this giant spider descended from the ceiling wearing my mom’s face. I woke up shivering and freezing and scrambled to pull the quilt over me and try to find warmth again. I lay there in a fetal position my heart and thoughts racing unable to find the path back to peaceful slumber again. I got up and rifled through my closet until I found my childhood teddy bear and brought it to bed with me. It seemed so ridiculous for a middle-aged woman to curl up with a stuffed animal but it brought me enough comfort that I did finally fall asleep. This journey I’m taking with grief is a strange one. I thought I knew what twists and turns I’d be facing but it hasn’t been like that at all. Some days I feel like nothing has changed, which has been the most unfamiliar feeling of all. How can I feel like everything is how it’s been when I’m adjusting to a new normal? It is a maze of confusing contradictions and I can’t find my way out. I’ve taken too many turns trying to outrun my grief. And now I’m lost somewhere in the middle of it. At least I think I’m in the middle, maybe I’m still in the outer ring of it. I wish I had a drone’s eye view of it so I could figure out how much further I have to go. Realistically I know this grief will be with me for the rest of my life. Time heals all wounds but does it lead you the middle of the maze where I imagine acceptance and peace dwell?

Completely Apathetic

I don’t know if apathy is a stage of grief but it has filled me to the brim today. I haven’t wanted to do anything at all. I’ve sat on the couch most of the day passively watching whatever has been on the television. My brain has felt like it’s been on standby mode just running on low gear. I have nothing I have to do. Nowhere, I have to be. And most importantly, no one to take care of. This feeling of emptiness is just consuming my body and soul. I know I should go out and be with people and get out of the house and not close myself off but I just don’t have any energy whatsoever to do those things. There is so much advice out there on how to deal with grief and how important it is to let the process evolve naturally. But I don’t want this apathy to become a lifestyle. If I’m honest with myself I have been finding myself reverting back to apathy more and more. I don’t want to feel the grief. I don’t want to feel the pain of losing my mom. And when I’m just in low gear, I don’t feel anything and my brain won’t allow myself to go anywhere near that pain that still simmers below the surface. I’ve tapped into that pain a few times and it is unbearable. Uncontrolled sobbing and a heaviness in my chest that makes it nearly impossible to draw in full breaths. Can you blame me for wanting to hide from it? I feel like a frayed wire and if I get to close to it I get a painful shock that makes my heart and soul jump. Do they make electrical tape for the soul? Just wrap it around the exposed bits and get on with my life and hope it’s strong enough to hold back the electrical aspects of grief. It might sound stupid but I wish grief came in a vending machine and I could put my money in and get a little bit when I wanted to deal with it. But that’s not how it is. It has been coming at times I’ve expected and at the oddest times as well. I suppose this will continue for the foreseeable future. I just have to learn how to take its hand and walk with it instead of running away from it. Maybe then the healing will begin in earnest.

Hollowed Out

I feel hollow.

The foundation of my life is gone.

Unstable ground is what I

Tremble on.

Unsure of who I am.

Unsure of where to go.

Unsure of everything.

I try to move forward,

But my gait is unsteady

And I fear falling

With no one here to catch me

Before I hit the ground.

At some point forward movement

Will become necessary.

I know it is what she

Would want for me.

But for now, I sit trying to

Fill this aching emptiness

With memories of happier times

With my mother.

Empty Spaces

The cat having given up on

His former napping spot

Cuddles up to me

As I write.

Grief has given me

Tunnel vision.

I find myself obsessed

Over the now empty spaces

Where my mom sat.

Her kitchen chair.

Her place on the sofa

Her napping chair

All now filled

With pink elephants

I try not to look at them

But there’s a gravitational pull

To what is no longer there.

Swimming Down

“…the moments when you’re in so deep it feels easier to just swim down.”

-It’s Quiet Uptown from “Hamilton: An American Musical”

It’s been two weeks since my mom passed away and for the first time today I felt like giving into the grief and depression that’s been burbling under the surface of my consciousness. It was so strange, in the quiet moments, I almost felt like something kept brushing against my feet threatening to grab my ankles and pull me under. It must sound insane and that’s how it felt. I have been treading water since my mom left us just waiting to drown in the grief I thought I’d feel. But it hasn’t happened yet and I’m puzzled by that. And yet, I can’t stop fighting the urge to sink. My arms won’t stop paddling to keep my head up. Why am I so afraid to really let myself feel my mom’s loss? That’s what I find myself asking myself. And yet I know the answer. I’m afraid if I let myself feel it I’ll get lost in it. I’ll lose myself in the power of it all. Then I have to remind myself that it has only been two weeks and I have the rest of my life to grieve. I don’t have to feel it all at once. I will grieve in my own time and my own space.

Self Implosion

It’s gathering,

Just below the surface

Of my knowing.

Bits of magnetized grief

Attracted to other fragments

Of what was blown apart

When she left us.

It is growing exponentially

Expanding in size and weight

Sitting densely on my heart.

Threatening to pull me inwards

On myself.

A fetal position curling my back

To the world.

I will implode at some point.

This grief will overwhelm and drown me

And the flotsam that is left

Within my soul

Will be the building blocks

Of who I am to become without her.

Cold Realization

This morning the world held

Less color.

The wind in the trees

Sounding like mournful sighs

Not whispers of hope.

Five days it took

For the realization to

Sink in.

You are not coming home

There is no more you.

And I am alone.

I have felt frozen all day

Wrapped in blankets

And still, I shiver.

Emotions flood

And drown me.

The person I have been

Dies.

The person I am to become

Waits to be born.

My New Reality

My older sister left to go back home today. She has been staying with me since my mom was moved to critical care which was several weeks ago. It was a strange feeling watching her car pull out of my driveway. I felt completely untethered for the first time since my mom passed away on Tuesday and it was unnerving to say the least. I mean I was alone during the first part of my mom’s hospitalization but then I knew she was still there, you know? This knowing that she’s not coming back, that my life as a caregiver is over, is just daunting. I took care of her full time for 12 years and part-time for 8 years before that. I’ve lived this life for 20 years and now it’s just over. I have no idea what kind of person I am without that. Looking around the house for the first time I just felt numb thinking of everything I have to do. Going through my mom’s things and getting organized to find a job and everything else that I haven’t thought of yet. That is what is going to get me through this. Keeping busy and moving forward to a life I know my mom would have wanted me to have. It’s up to me to see this through and my mom gave me every tool I need to see it come to fruition. Will I have rough days? You bet I will. I realize the magnitude of what has happened hasn’t even begun to hit me yet and, to be honest, I’m kind of scared of what will happen when it does. I just have to focus on handling things as they come. One day at a time and not worry about what might happen in the future. Because being untethered doesn’t mean I’m just drifting aimlessly about, it means I have control over what direction my life takes and, with my mom’s spirit guiding me, I know I’m going to find the path I was meant to take.