Sunday, April 30, 2017

Grief and Legacies

I was 19 years old and puffy faced from crying, my arm had been numb for about an hour but in order to have feeling in it once more meant I would have to let go of my mother's hand, and I couldn't do that, not yet.

She was asleep.

No... that's the lie I told myself.

She was in a coma and probably wouldn't have realized if I slid my hand from hers and shook it until the pins and needles passed, but I would know. I would know that those precious seconds had ticked by where I wasn't comforting her... another lie, comforting myself... and I couldn't bear the thought of wasting a single moment, not when I had wasted so very many with typical teen angst and misdirected anger.

I remember thinking how small she looked on her bed. She was only 5'2 but there was always this grandness about her, this overwhelming presence of love, compassion, and kindness, she always seemed so much bigger. She had been my world, but now she looked like a fragile doll.

I don't recall who was in the room, likely my grandparents, uncle, aunt, random family, all holding a silent vigil as I sat clinging to my mother and whatever time we had left together.

This was so unfair.

It was unfair that she had battled brain tumors on and off her whole life.

It was unfair this last one struck when I was 14 and altered my life, seemingly overnight.

It was unfair this had happened to one of the kindest most genuinely good people.

It was unfair that she couldn't be the same woman she had been for me my first 14 years.

It was unfair she could barely walk, couldn't work, couldn't remember, couldn't live the life her peers were living, the life she had been living.

It was unfair that she fought so hard for so long.
It was unfair she was still fighting.

I asked everyone to leave, I needed a moment with my mother.

"I am so sorry. I am so so sorry. You deserved a better daughter. I was so angry, am still so angry, but it's hard to be angry at a disease and so I was angry with you. Please forgive me. I love you, will always love you, will always remember who you taught me to be. You did your job, I'll be okay, I promise, you can stop fighting, I'll be okay."

I wanted to climb in bed with her, I wanted her to wake up and stroke my hair and tell me it would all be okay as she had done my whole life. I wanted to wake up from this nightmare, be 14 and realize it was all a Christmas Carol style lesson in appreciating what I had. I wanted miracles to happen, wishes to come true, prayers to be answered.

I wanted my momma.

(I still do.)

I remember only bits and pieces of that week.

I remember begging the man at the book store to help me find "Love You Forever"  because it had to go in the lilac purple coffin my mother now laid in. I read it over and over and cried.

I remember the food, as southerns are wont to do everyone in the county seemed to filter through the doors, bringing casseroles and condolences.

I remember thinking, "This is it. I'm an orphan now. Yes, all of you stare at the poor orphan, judge her for being a shitty daughter and now unable to make amends."

I remember being angry that it was sunny and bright the day of her funeral. I was shattered and broken and had cried until I could cry no more, the sky should weep for her too.

I remember crying all night, nearly every night, for months on end.

I remember feeling guilty the first night I didn't.

Grief is a funny thing. At first it pins you down and tightens around your chest until you can't breath, until it feels as if it has squeezed your heart right out of your chest. You then have to walk around with this gaping hole, this wound that refuses to heal, this giant missing piece of yourself, and still live your day to day mundane life as if you aren't broken and empty. Eventually you realize you went one whole day without thinking about it, and you are then crushed by guilt. You're given platitudes and cliches by well meaning people but you begin to discover time does NOT in fact heal all wounds, you just learn to work around them.

You do better though, weeks may pass without tears, but grief will not be tossed aside so easily. When you are in the absolute best mood with all of the greatest things happening grief will rear its ugly head and smack you down. When you are at your lowest low, heart sick and barely functioning grief will come along and rub salt into every wound. On a random Tuesday at Chipotle grief will show up and you'll find yourself sitting alone, ugly crying into your sofritas burrito bowl for seemingly no reason.

There is no "getting over" grief. There is no "being done" mourning. There is no "moving past" the pain. You can learn the tools to grieve in a healthy way, but you will ALWAYS miss that person.

My mother will never attend my wedding, should I ever get married.

I will never have that fun adult relationship so many of my friends now have with their mothers.

My mother will never again wake me at midnight  just to be the first one to sing me Happy Birthday.

Every Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July, will be without her.

My daughter will never meet her grandmother, who I think would have been the most amazing Mimi.

I do what I can to keep her memory alive. As Witchling grows I will tell her stories about the Mimi she never knew, I will do everything in my power to make her as real for Witchling as I can.

I guess maybe that's the point of my post tonight. I'm honestly not sure, I didn't start out with a real direction. I don't talk much about my mother publicly, and never really about her death, but with Mother's Day coming up I'm a little out of wack.

I digress.

I have promised to tell Witchling all of the stories of my mother that I have, and have asked others to do the same. I believe that is our true legacy, the stories others tell about us.

I think the Doctor said it best, “We’re all stories, in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

(Per usual as of late this rambling emotional mess was posted from my phone, please forgive any typos, random autocorrects, and other various mistakes.)

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