I miss my Mom. It’s not that I didn’t expect that, to some extent… but I guess I’m more surprised by the hair trigger moments when that emotion seems to hit me, in varying degrees. It hadn’t occurred to me that each time I drive up certain streets now (and probably for a while longer), I would feel a determined instinct to drive over and see Mom. For three+ years now, I have taken a specific route to visit her. The fact that that route involves streets that I frequently travel for other things, didn’t hit me as powerfully as it did when she was alive. Then, I was often avoiding a visit… feeling guilty when I did, but torn as to how to watch her changes, sit with her patiently, how to enjoy my mother. Now, I just want to sit with her, and when I drive those roads, it’s hard not to automatically head in that direction. I’m missing my Mom.
There is still that determined heart, wired to pull me toward the fresh flowers at Costco, to pick something out for her. I bough fresh flowers for her several times a month, for those three years… It’s hard not to find my cart headed in that direction, each time I’m at that store. Tonight, shopping at Fred Meyers, I instinctively found myself looking at certain looser fitting clothes, that she might like. I noticed the chocolates that she loved to keep in her nightstand drawer… even after the resident Labrador had to be taken to the vet, having found Mom’s stash. Each time I drive past the road to Hospice, my heart clenches; my jaw tightens. I miss my Mom.
There are still so many little details that pop up daily. I finally closed her checking account, sure that all bills had been paid and there was nothing left to do with the account. The banker who has helped her and me for three years, paused when I told him why I was closing it. “I’m sorry. You and your Mom were always so nice when you came in here.” There is a two day wait, once you officially request to close an account. “I’ll take care of this personally; you don’t need to come back in here.” He smiled benevolently, and as I thanked him and I choked down the emotions that rose in my throat. There are the checks to shred. The clothing that I keep finding, that I have to donate. Things that she had in her drawers (pictures the kids painted for her, cards people sent) that all must be disposed of. I know that I don’t want to hold on to these things, but letting go of each one is a tiny heartbreak.
There are people, sometimes in the most unexpected places, that I have to tell. Her hairdresser at Super Cuts and the lovely woman, Lee, who did her nails, at The Sunshine Salon, have each called to ask if Mom is ok, because they hadn’t seen her in a while. It is not any easier, each time I tell someone: She died in December. Each time I speak the words, and try to maintain some calm… I stumble over the reality that she is truly gone. I don’t actually cry often… but the emotions, rise up and then I push them back down. Such a very long time that we all suffered with her; such a very cruel thing to watch and live with… and yet, the relief is not as palpable as I expected it to be. I simply miss my Mom.
There are times when the last moments: those last breaths she took,the sound of it; the dimness of the room; me counting the intakes and exhales and talking to replace the fear she clearly felt and the shock I felt; each tiny detail, jumps up at me and I can’t close my eyes and sleep. It’s not every night anymore. Some times, it’s in the day. But, those moments come back with such incredible clarity and I am shaken. I try to think of something else, to fill that space… but it isn’t always possible. I know that I’m healing, even as these moments continue to ambush me.
I feel the positive shifts as well. The loving memories that I can now reflect on, and not feel the bitterness of a different reality. I can remember her when she was lively and beautiful… not tied down to her ticks and choreas. Before she had aged far beyond the 68 years she was, when she died. I am lighter most days, than I was for so many days in the fall. That is a relief. The sleepless nights are not gone, but are less frequent. My brain can slow down at night, more often than it did in weeks past. Things are getting put away and settled, and I feel the relief of not having them linger. There are old wounds, and old issues, that somehow melted: simply disappeared, with my mother’s last exhale… that I didn’t anticipate. That is sweet beyond description. I’m healing, but I still miss my mother. (^^ When my mother, sister and I were younger… and couldn’t imagine what lay ahead.)
I miss the moments when only she laughed at my sarcastic tone, my playful teasing, regarding the very unfunny condition that she lived with. Others sometimes gasped silently, when I’d make a comment to Mom about her being bitchy. Or, telling her that she looked like a homeless person, when she refused to wear her bra. Not PC, not kind, but my mom got it. She grinned; she laughed; as others around us tried to figure out whether I was serious. I was. She got it. The times when she would suddenly say something with such clarity and awareness, that I could see my Mom again, through the Huntington’s Disease. Those were sublime moments, when I could let my guard down a little and just enjoy my mother. Not weigh the jerky movements, the empty look, the silence… such sublime moments. They were much fewer than the moments when I just resented it all, and wanted to avoid gettig too close to it. <– Mom’s final birthday dinner… a month before she fell, and ended up in hospice. I was teasing her, with the waiter… and as usual, she got it.
So last week, I had a moment with my mother, thanks to Bono and U2. Anyone who has read this blog more than once, knows that music is my oxygen. There’s a song for every thing, every memory, every emotion, each day. When we get playing “if you had to live without…,” music is not something I could live without. I’d probably sacrifice a limb, before I’d agree to a life without my iPod, my CDs, radio station… music. So, it will be no surprise that it was a song that brought me down, on a snowy hill.
I was skiing with Denmark and a friend, at Sun Peaks. As I’ve openly admitted (Stink, Stank, Stunk); I am wasn’t the strongest skier in the group. So, as usual, I was at the back. They were waiting for me to get down a hill, that was proving a little harder than I’d expected. I ski with one iPod ear bud in, and generally set my iPod to random. What ever pops up, is what I ski to. I’ve also shared that Bono’s song Sometimes You Can’t Make It On Your Own (or watch this version), strikes a powerful chord with me. It always has, not just since Mom died. Bono has shared that he wrote the song when his father was dying, and sang it at his funeral. He and his dad had shared a very complicated relationship, and the song speaks to that. My mother and I shared a very complicated relationship as well. I’m sure some of you have picked that up, in these posts, but I’ve never really hid that fact either. The lyrics to the song, are so very true for our relationship. At the end, I thought of that song most days.
So, there I was skiing. Snow was falling; I was trying not to fall. I was tired; and trying to keep up. The song came on and I felt myself shift into a deeper place. The words just hit me so powerfully again, as I worked my way down that hill. I paused and looked up and the sun was a white ball, obscured by the snowy sky. If I were to paint it, there would be grays and whites, and a ball of light, as the snow flakes fell. I’m not a religious person. I’m spiritual, and as you have read… I believe in signs. I believe in the mystic. Those moments you can’t explain. And in that moment, I felt my mother right there with me. And let me be clear: skiing down a hill is not something my mother would do. She broke her leg skiing, as a kid, and I don’t remember her ever skiing when we were kids. The song just caught me and dragged me sideways.
A giant ball of emotions and tears came up so quickly, I couldn’t swallow it; I couldn’t push it back. I couldn’t unzip my jacket to change the song. Denmark and R were waiting below me and I could see them take in the shift in my face. They called out to me, but I couldn’t answer; I couldn’t really hear them. I stopped on the hill and just let the emotions sweep me away for a moment, and signaled that I was coming, as Bono sang on… for the both of us, and I tried to move again. We both missed a parent that we didn’t always understand, that we didn’t feel the clarity and ease, we’d have liked to have felt. Despite that, I loved my Mom, and I miss her. That song says so much of what I feel… not all of it. It truly was and remains complicated. There isn’t one song, or any easy phrase, there isn’t a simple explanation… but as I skied down that hill, with that song playing, as I looked up at that white sky, the white all around me, I just missed my mother so much.
When I finally got down to Denmark and R, my goggles were foggy, and it was clear I was crying. I had to explain that I hadn’t hurt myself; I was just hurting. Both know that I haven’t spent a lot of time crying, and R, simply put an arm around me and said… “don’t stop.” Oh that sweet spot that friends can touch. As we stood there, me trying to pull myself together, a total stranger came to one of those perfect snow stops a foot from me and yelled to me “beautiful day, eh!” As soon as he looked at me, he turned to the others and said “Well, maybe I asked the wrong person in this group.” Oops. We all laughed, and I assured him that it was indeed “A Beautiful Day,” coincidentally… another U2 song. For the record, I’m a fan. I’ve seen them live twice and have not been disappointed, but last week, on a snowy hillside… I had a sideways moment with Bono; and it was beautiful.
“Cause it’s you when I look in the mirror. And it’s you when I don’t pick up the phone. Sometimes you can’t make it on your own… Can you hear me when I sing? You’re the reason I sing.”
Stop! Really. Read this. Please note: Check out the Facebook page:https://www.facebook.com/TalesFromTheMotherland. If you enjoy these posts hit “Like” and make me smile. It also helps my blog grow and that is the point. Go back and hit Like. Thanks. Then, be a good dooby and “Share” them with others; it’s nice to share. Better yet Like them; Share them and then do something nice for yourself: “Subscribe.” You won’t get any spam, you can sign up with an anonymous name (I won’t know who you are, unless you tell me), and you will get an email each time I post. Think of it as a free gift to yourself. You know you want to. Go ahead, make my day (sorry about the gun, but this is serious business).