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.

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.

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.

Compartmentalizing

The word of the day is, you guessed it, compartmentalizing. Before going to see my mom today, I was having one long meltdown. I had no idea how I was going to keep my emotions in check during my visit when all I could think about was how this, in all reality, was probably my last Mother’s Day with my mom. I didn’t think I could do it and found myself making that my mantra while getting ready. Not to mention the fact that I’m childless not by choice so Mother’s Day is an emotional day for me anyway. Needless to say, my emotions were at an all-time high. Driving to the hospital I had a heart-to-heart talk with myself. I told myself that my main goal was not to cry in front of my mom and upset her. I also told myself that my emotions could not control me today, that I had to control them. Enter the idea of compartmentalizing. Mentally I created a room in my brain that had concrete walls three feet thick and encased in titanium and stuffed all the emotions I had been feeling this morning and slammed the door and locked the twenty padlocks on it and headed into my mom’s room. She had been put back on BiPAP this morning because her oxygen levels dropped again. The first half hour or so my mom just kept asking me to take her home. I could feel those concrete walls cracking in my brain and I just forced myself not to think about it. I had to tell her several times that the doctors feel that she just wasn’t ready yet. And she seemed to accept my reasons only to ask me seconds later when she could go home. At one point I mentally added another foot of concrete to that room. All in all, though, I got through it without breaking and, as I walked out, I felt pretty proud of myself that I was able to control my emotions and didn’t let them control me. I did what I thought was impossible.

You’ve Hurt Me Again

You’ve hurt me again. I lie here in tangled sheets a mess of raw nerves unable to sleep. My hear races trying to keep up with the thoughts that are chasing each other through my brain. Frustratingly I roll over and try to go to sleep but eventually give up and get up to sit in the corner chair. Wrapping myself in a blanket I sit and stare out the window into the night sky as if the answers to my questions are out there somewhere.  I’m so tired of questioning myself about your choices. Why you wouldn’t stop in and see me after driving three hours to visit our mom in the hospital. I was only another 15 minutes away. It wouldn’t have taken much more time, even a five-minute visit would have been enough. Or why not let me know you were coming so I could have met you at the hospital? Why didn’t you want to see me? We’re sisters, aren’t we? What I would give to feel comfortable enough to call you and ask you these questions. However, I know you feel little empathy or compassion when it comes to me, which saddens me even more. I find myself wondering why the most toxic people in our lives are usually related to us. Why is that? Who decided to tether our hearts to people who overlook, ignore, and dismiss us over and over again? The first rays of sunset rouse me from these thoughts and I stumble back to my cold sheets and try to find some sleep before morning has fully arrived.