Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Next Frontier

Dad arrived home yesterday. Immediately I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and the urge to crawl under my bed, curl up in the fetal position and hide until my Mommy comes home again.

I realized this past month has done next to nothing to reconcile me to life without my mother. Instead I apparently used the time to build up a barrier between myself and reality, a barrier that came crashing down when Dad came home and insisted on starting in with annoying things like bills, accounts to be closed, death certificates to be sent (p.s. never thought I'd be writing on my fridge whiteboard "Get more death certificates" - who knew how many people needed to be informed?)

I am deathly frightened by this next phase. I think it means I can't hide anymore; or at least that it's going to take a lot more effort to do so.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tears not Acceptance

I find myself focusing very hard on stemming the random flow of tears these days; not out of any sense of crying as weakness or a need to put up any kind of front of strength. I am perfectly comfortable feeling weak and giving in to said weakness, either while I'm alone or surrounded by any number of relative strangers.

Ask anyone who knows me, they'll tell you that I am capable of bursting into tears while describing an especially moving long distance commercial.

These days I feel like the tears aren't helping; that's why I find myself attempting to halt them before they begin. I've shed so many that I'm not sure where they keep coming from at this point, but nothing has changed...and I'm pretty exhausted with the effort.

So now I'm trying to stop, to breathe, to think through the onslaught before it has a chance to begin. Does this mean I'm moving on to any kind of acceptance? No, I don't think so because I'm still pretty sure that Mom is off on vacation in Cuba, making friends with her lovely Cuban waiters, exchanging addresses and feeling so blessed to have made a connection with people whose lives are so different from her own.

No, I can't accept that She's gone, not even as I'm dropping off her clothes at the Sally-Ann and then suffering a panic attack at the completion of the task. I just can't keep crying, now I just have to remember how to smile.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

63 Days

Yesterday marked two months, or more precisely, 63 days since my mother passed. Where am I now?

While logic has never played a huge role in my life; I've never really grasped the need for it, it seems so complicated, so unnecessary; I have always enjoyed analyzing and attempting to quantify my emotional state.

Yes, I am a weirdo. Let me state for the record that I am completely comfortable with and in fact not a little proud of that.

So, in the spirit of logically analyzing my state of grief and mourning I'd like to sum up my status at this two month mark. I'm sure we're all familiar with the idea that grief is experienced in stages although "stage" suggests a rational, organized, systematic passage through the grief process and is really, well a completely crap term. It's more like an insane tumultuous roller coaster that sees you flung back and forth between emotions without any real control over your path. At first the ride takes you from highs to lows very quickly and without warning and it's not safe to take your hands off the bars holding you down for even a second. Over the course of riding the thing for a couple weeks you might begin to feel more comfortable with the pattern of the ride and allow yourself to let go and roll with it. When you least expect it though, the roller coaster spins around a new bend you haven't experienced yet and you're back to not knowing what's coming next.

What are the elements of the ride that I've experienced so far? Well there's good ol' denial and shock. I enjoyed denial and shock, that was a comfortable experience. I was riding an adrenaline wave for the first few days. In fact when I look back now, well, I realize I can't really look back. I was so out of sorts and running on a natural high (and wine, lots of wine) that I realize I don't have a clear recollection of this time.

As comfortable was I was with the first phase of things this immediate emotional defense system is becoming a problem for me now as I try to move forward. The next stages are supposed to be anger and bargaining. Here's where things get a little sketchy for me, I'm not sure I've experienced those. I've had some anger aimed at the things that happened the night she passed, the medical personnel involved. I've never been angry with my mother or with the experience of being left behind. This might be because even in her life I couldn't stand to be angry with her for more than a moment. It has never occurred to me to bargain for anything. It seems a waste of energy. She never deserved any anger, from me or anyone. Instead I seem to have moved from the immediate shock and denial to an almost constant state of complete avoidance of the reality of the situation.

I mean, I'm at home packing away my mother's belongings and at the same time reaching for the phone to call her to ask her what to do with one thing or another. I'm convinced she's on vacation and I keep wondering when she's coming back. Every day I think there's one more day down, surely she'll be back soon, I've suffered enough without her. This obviously can't keep going on this way.

Does this mean that two months in I'm still in the first "stage" of grief? Does this just mean that I can't possible quantify or rationalize this emotional upheaval? How the hell am I supposed to deal with this? Someone please tell me when something is going to start making sense again...please?

And this is life, if you can call it that, 63 days later.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My Dogs are Smarter Than Me

Fear, Panic, stress, more fear; all of these I experienced in the space of about two minutes when I returned home from the beach today, and all while the Sugar and Dolan danced and barked and pranced around my feet in total innocent exuberance that I had come back to them at last.

I freaked out when I got to the back door only to find it locked when I knew for a fact that I had left it unlocked; I was sure of this not because my memory is so well known for it's accuracy (hah right!) but because I had left the house by that door and therefore could not have locked it. I'm brilliant, I know.

I immediately jumped to the conclusion that some home invader had, well, invaded in my absence and had decided to lock me out in some sort of twisted, mind playing manouver. Yes, I moved very quickly from rational logic to total home alone paranoia of the highest degree.

Meanwhile the dogs were just inside the door hopping around, barking, howling, panting, doing their excited doggy thing and seemingly completely unperturbed the fact that some stranger had been on their property and committed god knows what heinous acts (heinous acts obviously having occurred if the locked door was any indication....and it certainly was in that moment).

I circled the house and found all the other doors still locked, as I had left them, and my bedroom window open the small amount that I had left it this morning. Brilliant, I would simply pop out the screen, open the window and rush in to save my dogs from their peril.

I managed to pop the screen off easily (which is great because I now I'm going to be totally paranoid about leaving my windows open when the house is empty) unfortunately the window crank fell off in my enthusiasm to remove the screen and now I was left with a window I couldn't open any further.

I took a look at the opening in the window and a look at my cadaverous carcass, I've lost weight with the loss of my mother...oh, forget it I'm not going to get into it now, the point is I'm way to thin for my own good right now - as witnessed by the fact that I managed to squeeze my non-existent ass through the 4 inch gap in the window.

I burst into the bedroom, much to the continued excitement of the dogs, and commenced to work my way through the house, inspecting every room and finding nothing out of place.

What kind of evil, home invader mastermind would play this kind of game? Visions of myself as the lead character in a horror movie, stalked by a psychopath danced through my head.

The dogs jumped all over me as I considered my next moves, staring at the mysteriously locked back door. I thought about the dogs themselves, traitors, I thought they could be trusted to guard the house, to guard me, a single female home alone, the perfect target for the imagined psycho waiting in the bushes outside.

It was then that logic return to me, the dogs locked the door. In all their joy at their beloved mommy returning from the beach, having left them for so long (a whole two hours) alone they had jumped all over the back door as I approached and one of them had inadvertently hit the latch.

Mystery solved. Crisis averted.

And my lesson for the day; my dogs are smarter than me....there's a good chance your's are smarter than you too.
Try not to forget it.