It’s hard to believe today marks the 2nd anniversary that mom left us.
I’ve gotten texts and emails from friends and family checking in on me and I must say I am doing OK. Really. And actually feeling a little guilty about it. For those of us grieving I think once we are able to accept our new normal, there’s a little bit of guilt that about not being more mournful of our loss. I know I am conflicted with this feeling. And I know this is not unusual. But what this tells me is that I am recovering – recovering from close to two years of intense grief.
As I wrote in my last post, the fact that I haven’t felt the need to visit my blog as often tells me I am on the road to recovery. That I am learning how to live my life without mom being humanly and physically here. But she is with me in so many other ways – the clothes of hers that I wear, photographs of her, her furniture, the scent of her bath lotion. And each of those is a warm reminder of her.
I spoke with my remarkable T. last night and at 99, how remarkable he is. His continuous love for mom is beyond words. And as I always do after I speak with him, I teared up.
Yes, I survived my daughter’s wedding seven months after losing mom, and survived my son’s, too, a year later. And now as the great-grandchild that mom so passionately wanted is only weeks away, I will survive that miracle of life without mom, too, but will miss her all that more more, just the same. I love you mom, today and forever.
I have been absent for a couple of months. I think I’m taking this as a sign of healing — that I don’t feel the need to pound out my feelings on the keyboard as much. Don’t get me wrong … I still grieve for mom. I still miss her every day and she is in my thoughts EVERY day. But I think I’m slowly learning how to live without her.
Since losing her, my family has gone through wonderful life cycle events – the marriages of my daughter and son, and now the pending births of their first child, my first grandchildren and mom’s great-grandchildren.
This past Monday my husband and I celebrated my birthday with friends, one of whom shares the same birthday. The restaurant chosen was the same one we celebrated mom’s 89th birthday. My heart sank a little. If I was given a choice I would have vetoed it. There are still places I can not go into because of mom. After arriving we were shown to our table. Of course it turned out to be the same one used for mom’s birthday. I was hesitant as we approached the table. As I settled into my seat and looked around, I took the restaurant choice and the table as a sign — a sign that it’s time to move forward.
The second anniversary of mom’s passing is a month away. I feel I have made great strides in the past six months, although peppered with some small setbacks, which I expect will re-occur from time to time. I am trying to do my best to remember mom, not with thoughts of sorrow, but with thoughts of all the wonderful things about her and the wonderful times spent together. I continue to be a work in progress.
Is there such a thing?
I just read an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “A Full Life to the End.” http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324577304579054880302791624.html?
It’s adapted from the book “Knocking on Heaven’s Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death,” by Katy Butler, and due out on Sept. 10. So, I guess there is if you’re able to leave this world on your own terms whether it be doing anything and everything to prolong life or choose palliative care. As my generation of those born in the 1950’s and perhaps later face the imminent passing of our parents, it’s important to honor whatever wishes of dying they have.
Once my mom approached her 80’s she would comment that “we’re just living too long.” I would say, “Oh, come on, mom. It all depends on your quality of life.” I believe she had a good one…until she didn’t. She had directives of no heroics.
We talked about her dementia, however uncomfortable it was for me because while I acknowledged it privately, I was in denial that she had Alzheimer’s. I wish I had been more honest with myself about it because maybe I would have handled some things differently. Mom had a wonderful speech therapist and we often discussed her condition and progress. But I remember getting annoyed with mom when she couldn’t use her TV remote as I explained certain buttons to her. There were times when either I just forgot or didn’t want to acknowledge the increasing limitations of her cognitive ability. Why? My denial or acceptance was not going to change things. I’m still baffled by it.
One of my biggest regrets is not being there when mom took her last breath.
I had sat vigil with her in hospice for two weeks, about 10 hours a day. During the second week she was sleeping a lot more and less awake. I still talked to her, stroked her hands and face. The night before she passed way I decided I needed to sleep in a little and was going to come in a little later that morning. Where was my head? Her doctor had told me that it was going to happen that weekend. Why didn’t I just stay with her overnight?
The hospice nurses assured me mom was not alone, that they were there. But I wasn’t there. And to me, that makes the biggest difference in the world.
Still, I am grateful that mom suffered no pain, and went peacefully.
I’ve mentioned before that the two things mom wanted more than anything in her last years was to see her grandchildren not only marry but to become a great-grandmother (GG).
While mom didn’t live to see D get married, she did get to see her engaged and in pictures of wedding dresses. And there’s another wedding in October as her first grandchild and grandson ties the knot.
But even more exciting is that mom is going to become a GG and I’m going to become a “nana” when this precious baby is born in early March. Babies are truly miracles and the reinforcement that life does go on and is to be celebrated despite personal loss.
It has now been one year, five months and four days since mom passed away.
The progress one makes in the grieving process can marked in many different ways. The marker for me is that when someone brings up mom’s name or makes a reference to her, I feel more in control. I can feel the emotions coming on and I can feel a glistening in my eyes, but I’m able to control it enough that the flood gates don’t open.
This realization of my progress happened yesterday when I went to my tailor to pick up some clothes I had altered.
My tailor loved mom, and mom was very fond of him. He would always mention how sweet she was and how she always had a smile on her face.
As I picked up my clothes he said in his Asian accent, “I miss your mom. She was always smiling.” I told him I missed her too, and we continued to talk a little about her. The fact that I was able to keep it together is a major milestone for me.
However, while typing this, it doesn’t keep my eyes from welling up.
For the past two years, July 4th has become a bittersweet holiday for me as this is also mom’s birthday. She would have been 91 today.
There’s not much to say except how much I miss and love her. A day does not go by that I don’t think about her.
So today, on what would have been mom’s 91st birthday, I just want to say, Happy Birthday, Mom. You are always in my thoughts and heart. I will love you forever.
I’ve written often about T., mom’s companion of 26 years. In many ways he reminds me of my own father. T. is very well-read, is extremely articulate, has a great love for classical music, and is very loving.
Since mom passed away 16 months ago we’ve kept in touch through phone calls and emails. Conversations are never too long, just a call to say hi and see how each other is doing.
At 98, T. remains quite an amazing figure. He just never ceases to amaze me.
I recently sent him a link to a chamber music festival’s live webcasts so he could enjoy listening to it. I work as a volunteer, providing PR assistance for the Mimir Chamber Music Festival in July. Mom loved the festival and always thoroughly enjoyed the concerts.
Upon receiving the webcast link, I promptly received an email from T. In response to my mention of how much mom enjoyed the festival, T. wrote, in his inimitable way, “If being loved was the only thing she needed to stay alive, she would be with us today.”
Tear ducts cued.