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You know that feeling when you’re throwing up and it’s almost as if your body has betrayed you?  It’s working on its own, so violently, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it?  You’re sitting over the toilet, or perhaps the sink, or maybe a bag or bowl…hating every second of this awful feeling but you can’t stop it.  Your body is just doing it on its own and you’re completely at its mercy.

That is what my grief feels like.

It’s also sort of like those dreams you may have where something terrible is after you, and you try to run, but all you can manage to do is move in super slow motion.

No control.

Mom is in hospice.

I know what will happen.  And I can’t stop it.  None of us can.

There are moments when it all seems so surreal.  Like this can’t be my life, this can’t be happening, it’s not time for this yet.  Like someone is going to approach me soon and say, “Oh man, we totally got you!  You completely fell for it.  Oh, hahahaha!  Yeah, you should have seen your face!  Hoooooooo!  Oh wow, well, yeah, no, she’s totally fine.  All is well.”.  Then we’d both have a good laugh and I’d say say something like, “I KNEW it was too soon!  Oh, you guys!  You did get me!  You’re just a bunch of punks!”.  Then we’d go out for margaritas or something.

But that’s not the case.  No, reality is more the “can’t stop the vomiting” scenario.

The weird thing is, is when it chooses to hit me.  Like a ninja attack, out of nowhere and I’m completely vulnerable.  Washing dishes, humming a little ditty?  *WHAM!!*  Grief vomit.  I am literally doubled-over, the emotion turning into physical pain and I can barely breathe.  I’ve found myself curled up in a ball on the floor, on my bed, in a chair, more than once, panting from the exhaustion of it all.

Because I can’t fathom a world without my mother in it.  I can’t imagine not being able to pick up the phone and ask her something.  I can’t figure out how I’m going to DO it.  How am I going to go through my days when she’s gone?  How will I find out the end of an incomplete childhood memory that I randomly thought of, and if I don’t discover the ending, it will just bug me?  How will I listen to anyone talk about their mom and how they love her so much?  Or how they can’t stand her?  How will I endure Mother’s Day without this gut-wrenching pain, this pit in my stomach?  How will I….?

All I know is that God has never failed to be with me, holding me, sometimes picking up my feet to move me, through any and every difficult experience.  Though this one is by far the worst, I know He won’t fail me this time….but it doesn’t mean there won’t be pain.  It doesn’t mean I’ll coast through with a plastic smile on my face.  I don’t want to.  That’s not me.  It never has been.  I want to be real.

So I can promise that to you.  I will be real.  I will be honest, good and bad.  It’s the only way I know how to do life.

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There’s been quite a lull in posts, I realize.  There’s good reason for that.  My mom, who has been fighting cancer for almost 2 years now, has been in the hospital for the past two weeks dealing with chemo side effect bowel issues.  She had to have surgery, and while things looked good for a few days, she suffered a major setback last week when she developed a leak in that area where her intestine was re-sectioned.   Things looked bad.  Really bad.  Like, this may be goodbye bad.  I will tell you the end of the story here so as to spare you the “to be continued” drama because that’s well and good for literary suspense, but this is my mom, you know?  So I’m not doing that.  At this point, it appears that the leak has healed, which really is miraculous, considering how bleak things seemed due to the cancer cells in her abdomen making healing difficult.  So for now, we are “cautiously optimistic” as it were.

Here is something I learned from this:  I have never experienced the level of emotional pain I felt this past week ever before.  Not even close.  I literally felt as if I were drowning.  Once I started crying, I couldn’t stop.  I physically couldn’t get a handle on myself so I just let it out until I was too exhausted to continue.  Sleep eluded me as vivid childhood memories came flooding back.  The way I used to snuggle with my mom and nuzzle my nose into her neck, which always smelled like Shalimar.  The time she sat on a bench outside the entrance to “The Whizzer” at Great America, and prayed with me for courage, as I was stuck between a desire to ride a roller coaster, and sheer terror.  Some of our horrible fights, including the one where I screamed an obscenity in her face, then took off running because I knew she’d slap me good for that one.  Standing for alterations on all of the many dresses and other clothing items she made for me and usually getting poked by the pins.  Trying on her jewelry…most times without her permission.  The time she taught me how to use a curling iron.  The way she cared for and comforted me when I was sick.  The shopping trips we would take together.  The way I never was embarrassed to hold her hand, even when I was a teenager.  The time she came to surprise me at college when I was really down and needed my Mommy.  Helping her in and out of her chair when her fibromyalgia got really bad.  So many more.  So many.

When she was diagnosed with cancer, I came to understand the mortality of my parents for the first time.  Up until that point, there was a silent expectation that both of them would always be around.  But the reality of actually losing my mom became very possible last week, and it was awful.  I could not rise above the grief.  I do not want to feel that again, but I know I will at some point.

Thank you, Lord, for letting Mom stay with us for now.

Keep fighting, Mommy.  We’re all in your corner.