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June 2013

June 20 ~ Give yourself permission to rest


Every day since Mom returned to Heaven I have had a plan.  I plan to make the most of every day.  I plan to get healthy.  I plan to write.  I plan to get creative.  I plan to catch up.  I plan to plan until I am exhausted and nothing is accomplished.

Mom teased that I needed a "project" and that she was mine.  As her heart weakened there were things that we did together.  Yard work, shopping, road trips, baby showers, house cleaning, laundry, window washing... with time she rested more and reluctantly allowed me to mow and mop, while I insisted that she relax a little more and fret a little less.

Watching your parent release their hold on life and slip away little by little, while you are frantically trying to deny what is happening, requires moving more quickly.  Listening for every breath requires sleeping less.  Praying for cures instead of comfort requires diligence and focus.

When the flowers at the cemetery have all died, the thank you notes are all written, the dishes are all returned and there is no longer a valid reason to move frantically or listen or pray for cures or would think you would relax, breathe, sleep perhaps... but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Jules and Todd fixed the leaking bay window and while painting the trim I fell.  Nothing serious but I ache all over and have tried to use that as an excuse for my inability to ease back into my life.  My life without my Mom... without my "Project".  Each day begins with good intentions but I am out of synch.  Load the dishwasher and watch tv.  Take out the vacuum and watch tv.  Mindless tv...not even intelligent tv that I could count as educational or informative.  Check the mail.  Text someone.  Watch tv.  Take an Advil and plop in the recliner with my Winnie the Pooh comforter and mindless tv.  Depressed?  No, not me... I am too familiar with death to get depressed.  I have met the slow dreadful death that demands that you eat, drink and breathe the enormous love you hold for the one leaving so that you don't run away as fast as you can so that you don't have to watch... don't have to feel the agony that you are helpless to stop.  I am also familiar with death that comes suddenly and rips you to shreds and leaves you to try to find some familiar pieces to put your heart back together... depressed?  Me?  No, certainly not. 

But the truth is, when we can no longer pick up the phone and hear the voice of our Mother or our child or our husband, our sister or brother, or our best friend... When the rest of our life seems to stretch into an eternity that until now seemed like fantasy, we are forced to accept the unacceptable.  And it is painful.

There is a wonderful book on my shelf "Transcending Loss" by Ashley Davis Bush.  She also has a Facebook page that often says exactly what I need to hear, but even before I discovered that resource, I wrote her a thank you note.  I just wanted her to know how much the grieving need to know that the journey changes you and lasts a lifetime.  She was gracious enough to respond.

Today she posted this brief message,   "Grieving is an exhausting process.  Your emotional, spiritual, and physical energy is sapped by so much sorrow and mixed emotions.  You must let yourself rest.  Give yourself permission to let things go, say 'no' when you can, and restrict your activities so that you can rest as much as possible."    


So I felt excused, validated perhaps.  Decided to share so that if there are any of you who are beating yourself up over the unmistakable inertia of having a broken heart...don't.  We love for a lifetime.  We get comfortable with the every day touch, heart to heart with those we love and when, for a moment, the illusion of separation grabs us by the throat and takes our breath away... we are allowed to panic, to be frightened and feel lost, but just hold on.

I had to write to remind myself that this will ease.  I know I will eventually sleep.  I know that I will stop trying to fill the empty space with chips and pizza.  I know that I will find a way to "make the lifelong impact of grief meaningful"... Again !  But for now, I'm going to allow myself some time to get used to the newness of my life without my Mom.

Her sweet kitties, Opie and Elle have come to live with us.  They sneak out from under Shannon's bed to eat and pee, but then they retreat to the safety, the quiet and the darkness.  When they are ready, when they trust this new home, this new life...they'll come out.  They are, I think, wiser than I have been.  They aren't trying to rush into the newness.  They aren't trying to formulate a plan.  They just know what they know and they know they are safe where they are and they will just rest for a time. 

It's  been a difficult year, I think I will too.









Jun 18, 2013

I am so grateful that when my mind is incapable of holding my memories safely in time....I can move through the photos on my phone and laugh and cry and wonder what on earth I was thinking !

Precious precious gift.

Jun 18, 2013

June 17 ~ Birthdays in Heaven

Today was Mom's 82nd birthday.  We celebrated on Sunday, the whole family got together and had fried chicken and birthday cake.  We were also celebrating the Dads in our lives, the old and the new.


It seems impossible that only a month ago we were planning ways to get rid of fluid and eat for a healthier heart.  Mom was cruising the yard in her "Hovercraft", commenting on the beautiful cranberry Clematis and the low ever present hum of the Cicadas.

Life just keeps moving forward.  Johnny, Candy and I met at the cemetery.  We put a wreath between the graves of our parents.  One invisible, well worn... the other, fresh red dirt and new grass seed.  The wreath was too fussy.  Grape vines, white tulips, white peonies and deep purple lilac, a small bird's nest and two bright pops of yellow Goldfinch.  I could hear her laughing because I never seem to know when to quit.  More is not always better !

Mom and I had talked about getting a pedicure when the swelling went down in her legs so I decided to make that my way to commemorate the day.  Bright red polish on my toenails seemed like an appropriate "Out of my comfort zone" way to step into this new life... a life that once again has an enormous hole in it and an echoing plea to find a way to embrace joy.

Of course the nail technician was lovely.  Grinned and giggled each time she cut a little too deep or said something that I simply couldn't understand.  As I sat in the car, emory board in hand, rounding the rough edges off of this less than adequate manicure, lamenting the fact that my feet felt pummelled and I had just spent way too much and left far too large a tip because I felt anyone deserved extra for trying to beautify feet that spent far too much of their lives either in boots or bare, wondering why I hadn't followed the advice of far more feminine friends in my choice of salons.... I could hear my Mom laughing once again. 

It must be fun, gazing down from Heaven, to remember the human moments with only humor and gentleness.  We must wonder why we embarked on such a journey with no memory of the glorious beings we truly are.  We must feel such compassion as we watch those we love make mistake after mistake.... ordering the same turkey reuben because it's a sure thing.  Paying good money for red toenails that will grow out or grown in... knowing full well that the experience will never meet their unrealistic expectations.  Starting to write time and time again, only to find that words can never fully express the depths of despair or the heights of joy that are part of 'being human for a time'.

Today I will finish the thank you notes.  Friends and family have been amazing.  They have held us when we wept.  Fed us when we couldn't think of food.  Visited and made Mom laugh, taking her mind off of her ever expanding legs and equally weakening heart.  I am finding it nearly impossible to find the right words, words that will express how much their love means to us.  How much we cherish the memories.

I know what 'missing' feels like.  I have ached with it for fifteen years and as so many of those who have offered us comfort know all too well... each loss opens the way back to the last and wicks the sorrow to the surface once again.  Reminding us that life is a gift... moment by moment... hand in hand and heart to heart.

I was compelled to add those two bright yellow goldfinch to my Mother's wreath.  They were an after thought but insistent and raucous.  I gazed at them at the grave they made me smile.  The bright yellow sang delightedly from the green grape leaves and purple lilac as the sky grew heavier and the air hotter.  Sweat ran down my face and pooled in my nooks and crannies, but those litle birds just oozed happy.   They seemed to be insisting  that I take particular notice.


 I have been watching for signs.  I charged my Mom with sending me a message that I couldn't deny or chalk up to wishful thinking or imagination.  She was to hug Shannon, get settled in and find a way to let me know she was there all safe and sound. 

 Several days ago I purchased " Closer Than You Think" by Deborah Heneghan, and a small hard cover day planner... reduced to one dollar.  In the bathtub last night I read the chapter  Subtle Signs: The Moments You Can Easily Miss. 

 I just pulled the ugly round red one dollar sticker from the front of the non descript dayplanner and there sitting silently, beneath residual sticker gooh, waiting for a place that I could have easily missed... was a bright yellow Goldfinch, just oozing happy.

Hugs delivered, settled in... arrived safe and sound !

I love you my Angels.