When Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

The past few days have been an emotional roller coaster for me. My older cat, Patches, has been having a very rough time since Sunday.  That night and most of Monday, he didn’t eat or drink anything, and he just stayed in his bed all day. So tearfully I was planning on taking him to the vet on Tuesday to have him examined. But then late Monday night he started eating again, so I started feeling hopeful. However, I did go to bed not knowing if he would be with me in the morning. Not only was he still here, but he was also eating and drinking and mooching treats. But his back legs weren’t working correctly at all, and he was having extreme balance issues. But he seemed to be getting stronger, so the Tuesday visit to the vet became a plan to go today. Today, he has continued to grow stronger; he’s still wobbly but not nearly as bad as yesterday. This is where the questions begin. Is he suffering? I don’t know, most likely in some ways, yes. Then there’s the whole quality of life versus quantity of life debate that’s been raging in my mind. I don’t want him to suffer, but I don’t want to cut his life short, either. It’s just so difficult to not be selfish and keep him around just so I don’t have to lose him. I mean, I know he’s 17 and nature is going to run its course, but man, that selfish side just wants to wring out every second I can with him. It certainly doesn’t help that the first anniversary of my mom’s death is rapidly approaching and the idea of a resurgence of grief over her swirling with fresh grief if I lose him is overwhelming. How much pain and sadness can I take before I crumble into dust? But then I think about how he depends on me to do the right thing no matter how much it breaks my heart. I just have to wait and see how he does in the next few minutes, hours, and hopefully days.

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 Possible Visitation

Yesterday, my niece and nephew came for a visit. I had them help with a few things while they were here including taking my mom’s bed apart. Seeing the pieces of the bed my mom has slept in for over 40 years was very emotional but having to walk by it every day had gotten to be much too painful and I knew it was time to remove it. Hours after they had left when I was getting ready to go upstairs for the night, I went into my mom’s room and looked at the dark empty space where her bed had been and asked if she was okay with my removing her bed. I wasn’t expecting an answer, how could she answer me? Taking one last look, I went into the front hall and turned on the lights, one in the downstairs and one in the upstairs. Climbing the stairs, the light behind me blinked on and off one time. “Once for yes, twice for no.” flashed through my mind and I stopped mid-step dumbfounded. Could it have been her? I don’t know. There was no accompanying cold or air or feeling like she was there, but I’d like to think it was a sign from her — a sign that she’s okay with me moving on and changing the house to suit my new needs. It’s also comforting to know that her spirit is still around watching over me.

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.

Taking Care of Myself

The last few days have been particularly rough for me. The realization that Thanksgiving, a holiday my mom loved, will also fall on the six month anniversary of her death has hit me like a ton of bricks. I’ve allowed the grief to take the reins for now and haven’t been able to do too much more than recover from the endless crying I’ve been experiencing. I’m not posting this for sympathy, it’s just the reality of my life right now. It’s important to allow my grief to take its course and be patient with myself during this healing process. I’m not sure if I’m going to be posting much over the next little while and I wanted to let you all know why. It’s time to focus on myself and being careful with my feelings and not pushing myself past what it’s able to do during this time.