I returned to the medical building today where I had taken my mother so many times. It was the first time I had been back there since my mom passed away and, as I walked along the curved sidewalk, I was overwhelmed by memories of pushing her wheelchair towards the door. I felt like her ghost was everywhere as I walked inside. I could still see her waiting in the lobby while I went to get the car. Or in the laboratory waiting room, fretting that her wheelchair was blocking the walkway. I was not prepared for how sharp the dull ache in my heart would feel.
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?
“…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.
Yesterday my niece and nephew surprised me with a visit. They have been absolutely wonderful during this difficult time. They lost their dad in 2011 and their mom in 2016 and they keep telling me that I was there for them during those times so they are making sure they are there for me during this sorrowful time. The three of us have always been close ever since my sister and her husband adopted them from Russia. They are also close to my mom and losing her is hurting them deeply. To see them doing their best to set that aside to be there for me has moved me beyond words. I just feel so lucky and grateful to have them in my life. They are definitely one of the things that are bringing light to my life right now and pushing the encroaching darkness away.