I have been thinking that acceptance is like a fine silver chain that I put on myself every day and take off every night. Sometimes it catches on the first try, the tiny clasp opening right under my fumbling thumb and the other side sliding neatly into place. Sometimes, most of the time, it does not. There are tears of frustration, gritted teeth, multiple attempts, fingers dumb, chain slipping, fragile glimmers dangling round my collar bone. Sometimes looking in the mirror helps, sometimes it just flips things around, complicates the task.
Sometimes it catches quickly, securely, for two, three mornings running. And I think I’m on a streak, that I’ve got the knack of it now. And then I lose it.
I miss you, Mom. I love you. As constant as the moon.
it was a month ago today that she died. but it doesn’t feel like that. time has been suspended for me. it means nothing now. a day is a week, a week is a year, and all the things that happen in between are fleeting blurs, falling slowly toward the center, drifting like leaves.
I am shatters. I am fragments. I am bits and pieces that may never be knitted together whole again. or maybe they will. it is hard to say. I have been schizophrenic since the beginning of june. not literally, of course. what I mean is that at the beginning of june, when my Mom was first diagnosed, my rational self immediately divorced my emotional self and just went about the task of getting things done. getting the doctor’s appointments, looking at the CAT scans, hearing the news no one wants and disseminating it over the phone to everyone she loved, as gently and directly as possible. driving to the radiation appointments, finding someone to fit her for a wig when her hair fell out, finding fashionable head gear, trying to keep her fed. and later, holding her hand when she was beyond speaking, as she was dying, being there, letting go. Trying to be strong and capable when I felt anything but, when the center of my universe was dropping out.
And it has become a habit. I closed the door so firmly on all those frantic emotions that I don’t know how to see them any more. they come out when I am tired, when I am less than vigilant, when I don’t have 24 million other things to do or at least 3 other people and a dog on whom to focus intently. mornings are the worst, when I am first waking up and floundering between sleep and day. when I am not sure where I am, physically and emotionally. when I am not sure if she is still here or not. when my guard is down. when I am defenseless.
and sometimes it just leaks out. I’ll stop on the path to look at light in the leaves, and I’ll realize with a start that I am crying. that my grief has wrapped its hands around my throat and I am choking.
when I spell it out like this, it sounds so wholly tragic. it sounds so dramatic. it sounds as if I am a mess. and I am. except for the fact that I am not. I am standing. I am upright. I am moving through my days, I am getting things done. sometimes I laugh, out loud. sometimes I feel good. sometimes I feel secure and loved. And sometimes I just don’t.
it is just now beginning to feel real. it is just now that I look at the future yawning before me and see all the places in which she won’t be and feel the ache of that. I am getting tired now. I am truly exhausted. It’s hard to stay vigilant. It’s hard to keep the door closed. my memory is failing me. the past few months lie on the ground, glimmering, unconnected, but I can’t see them clearly. i misplace my keys, i misplace my coffee, my shoes, my words. i misplace my anger, i misplace my perspective.
And my emotional self is banging on the door. tentacles are sliding under the cracks, wagging at me. it’s drawing close to the time to open it up and confront it directly, i think, but I can’t find the key. I think I left it in the pocket of my other pants, the ones my pre-june self used to wear.
i have a phone number here for counseling services. I am reasonably sure that what I am feeling is entirely normal, but I want to be sure. For the first time in my life, I think, all I want is to be normal, all I want is to be just like every one else. I have no desire to be all original here. I want to be secure in the knowledge that this is the way it goes, that I will get thru this process intact.
And for the record, I am reasonably sure that I will get through this process intact. but I am absolutely certain that talking to someone professional about how to get thru to the other side is a good idea.
and I am afraid. I am afraid to put this out there. i am afraid you will think it’s maudlin. that you will recoil and retreat . but the one lesson I have learned through all of this is that the fear, the anticipation is worse than the actual event. it must always have been this way, but i didn’t have the courage to see that before. now I do.
there is nothing to be afraid of. there is only love.
I feel you here with me, Mom, constant as the sun, constant as the moon.
always and always yours, Melanie
On Sunday, August 17th, 2008, after a brief but courageous battle with lung cancer, my mother, Sonya Ford, passed peacefully in the arms of one of her best friends, Merilyn, and her beloved sister, Verna. She passed secure in the love of her family and friends.
John and I spent her last two nights with her and were with her until four hours before she passed. It was beautiful. She was beautiful. She IS beautiful.
I will love you always, Mom. Every breath I take, every moment of my life is as much yours as it is mine. I am so proud and so grateful to be your daughter.
With all my love, Melanie xo
p.s. It may be a good long while before I feel recovered enough to resume life on the internet. There are so many things to tend to just now and though I am doing as well as can expected, I am completely devastated as you can imagine. Please understand if I am slow to respond to email and condolences. I do remain utterly appreciative and am now more aware of the beauty and importance of friendship and family than ever before.