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One Week LaterJune 19, 2008

You are darlings. Thank you for your kind emails -- they mean the world to me. They ARE hard to read sometimes, though, because you're SO nice, so you understand why I closed comments on that last post. Would have made it too easy for you to be kind, and I just couldn't bear all that. The emails were wonderful, though.

It sucks. That's what it comes down to. It just sucks. I've hit a point where I have decided bed is the best place to be. The memorial is this Saturday, and I have to go back to work in another week, and I'm looking forward to rejoining the human race. However, for now, while work is paying me to be bereaved (a civilized idea, really), I am lying in bed all day, knitting and watching ANTM and Brothers & Sisters on the computer. Brothers & Sisters, a fine show, is very hard to find illegally on the internet, so hard that I have LEARNED HOW TO TYPE IT IN CHINESE. Or at least, I've figured out what it looks like and then I have copied and pasted it into Chinese TV sites, and voila! There my season 2 episodes are! Free of charge, subtitled in Chinese. A valuable talent, I know.

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED THROUGH ALL THIS:

1. Family is all-important, and I have the best one. I hope you think I'm wrong, that yours is the best, but I'm not wrong. Even missing the sun of our solar system, the planets are still spinning (I almost minored in astronomy -- I understand the physical implications of that and I'm ignoring them for the sake of the metaphor) and there is much, much love. So proud of them.

2. Sorrow does not preclude joy. That one's a shock -- I didn't expect to laugh on the very day she died, let alone every day since. I'd been so lucky that I'd never suffered a major loss until I was 35. But I thought when it happened it would change me, make me into a sorrowful person. No. It's made me sad, and at the moment, depressed and lethargic and only able to identify with stupid TV, but I'm still me, and I still take delight in the same things I always have. They just have a low-pitched humming underneath. Salted caramel ice cream is still so good I want to cry, only now sometimes I do.

3. Greeting cards. Let's talk. This is something I didn't know, and it seems so obvious, but Lala says she didn't know it either, so maybe you don't. Now, I'm only talking greeting cards, not the lovely emails and comments I've received from you, my readers. Internet notes to friends online who have lost a loved one (or are going to) -- you've done everything right. Even the ones earlier that didn't quite understand Mom was dying (and how could you? I was vague on the point for a while), those made me feel loved.

But the mailed cards. Oy. It got to a point where we screened every card, and only read Mom the good ones, or left out the maudlin words as we read. We stuck the other ones up on the wall, but only after we showed them to each other and rolled our eyes. So many wonderfully-intentioned people wrote treacly cards, invoking the Lord's mercy, telling Mom to Feel Better! The Lord has a plan! Get Well Soon! Listen, if the family has invoked the word Hospice, the patient WILL NOT GET BETTER. You telling us miracles happen in a Hallmark font does not make us (or her) feel better, it pisses us off.

You know what helps? A card, written by hand, remembering things. One of my aunts wrote, "I remember when Danny brought you home. You were so beautiful, and you both sat on the porch and sang the washing-machine song, and the shearing song." Another friend from New Zealand wrote, remembering Mom's "beautifully fringed eyes and abundant hair," and the fact that no matter how hard she studied, she could never catch up with Mom, always head of the class (natch).

Mom loved this kind of card, called them the most Christian of the bunch, and smiled when they were read to her. And we loved getting them, hearing about her, people remembering specific, wonderful things about her.

So when you write these sympathy cards, if the person is on hospice, just recall the good things, the things that make that person unique and special. Send them love.  Later, to the family, write more memories, of funny things that happened, or things specific to a time and a place and a person. People will be so grateful. We were.

4. Wacky Hijinks! Lala does everything she can to cheer me up, including what she did at 3am this morning (which was exactly one week to the hour since Mom died, but I didn't realize that then).

She normally sleeps like a rock, so it startled me when she sat straight up in the dark. She said, in an  alarmed voice, "UH-OH!"

I sat up with her and said, "What is it?"

She said, extremely worried, almost panicked, "I can't see!"

I reached behind me and turned on the light.

"Oh!" Ultimate relief in her voice. "Wow!"

I laughed so hard that I had to put my head down, but apparently that sounded like crying, which confused her, and then her look of confusion slayed me even more. Good stuff. She doesn't remember a bit of it this morning.

5-100. I have learned way more than this. But I'm done typing. Valuable ANTM time is slipping away as I write....

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Comments

You're grieving but you're healing, too, even if you don't know it yet. You'll learn to live with this loss but there will be moments of extreme sadness while you do. I'm thinking of you, my friend.

It's good to hear your voice again, Rachel. I'm very sorry for your loss. Your eloquent writing about your family's journey has been both moving and informative. Thank you.

LOVE you, girlie. Lala, too.

Knowing that your family is wonderful is about the best thing you can hope for from a situation like this.

{{{{{hugs}}}}

But my family's still the best. :)

big virtual hugs and may we someday hug in real life :) i am glad you are home safely.

So, does LaLa have a sister? A gay sister that happens to live in Washington state? Or how 'bout you just clone her? I'm single and would love a LaLa of my own! :)

Big hugs sweetie.

Thanks so much for the advice about what to send a grieving family. It's great; so helpful and specific, and I usually have no idea.
I am so sorry for your loss, and hope you are feeling better soon.

I totally expected to cry through this whole post, but no... you made me smile. Your amazing.

*hugs* *hugs* *hugs* so many hugs I can't even type them all here in this silly little comment box...

Hugs and loving thoughts to you and your family. Your helpful advice about greeting cards etc is very welcome - it's tough for people who have no experience of terminal illness and bereavement to know what to say and your comments really help.

Allow yourself a bit of self indulgence and take care xxxxx

A few weeks after my father died, I dreamed that he called me. I had all these questions I needed him to answer, but what he told me was that he was so proud of us, of how we were taking care of my mother, and of each other. And how he was so proud of all we had done to honor him, and how he was OK, and he knew that we would be OK without him. He could see that we were going to make it beautifully.

I didn't know your little Mama, but I know she must be so deeply proud of all of you for loving her so beautifully in her last days, and for loving each other and holding each others' hands on this journey through this terrible place.

There are no words, but Rachael, I'm so very sorry.

Number three is some of the best advice to the friends and loved ones of folks at the end of life I have ever read. Thank you so much for explaining that to so many people.

I am so sorry your wonderful Mom is gone, but so glad that you loved her so well, and she loved you so well, and that you have great memories of her to cherish.

You're a lucky woman to have such a loving family. Truly.

I lost my mama when I was 35 too. My heart aches for you.

Hugs and lots of them to you and your family. Just take it one day at a time, and know that we are all here for you.

The memories are so important. It's what we all have to hold on to.

Remember, you don't have to say that you're doing fine when people ask. It's OK to say that you're not fine.

Much love to you, Lala and your family.

So good to have a post from you, thanks a million. And thanks for the pointers as we sometimes forget when we go a while without a big loss.
I'm still sending virtual hugs to you and yours and I say get down with your grieving period from work. Knit, stay in bed, read, watch tv, blog, whatever the heck you feel like doing.
OH and I'm so glad Lala regained her vision!!!!!

Glad to hear you're hanging in there - and that bit of Lala's had me laughing, too. I think it's especially good to have loved ones around in times like this, and even more so when they can make you laugh for a bit.

Rachel, thanks for posting that about cards. What's Digit up to? Watching TV with you and holding your pattern steady? Don't forget to keep up with the LOLcats and LOLgoggies.

I'm so, so sorry.
And you're right on #1... but I *do* feel that way about my family too. And I'm right too. And we're both so lucky.

Hallmark makes me so angry when it comes to "sympathy cards." I did the same sad hibernation when Nanie died last year. I still cry some days, am still angry, but less so now. I wish the same for you, in the right amount of time.

Missed you and Lala and assorted critters from your blog. Glad you're posting again. Your genius on how to get Brothers & Sisters is a stitch. Soooo glad you use your powers for good, not evil.

Even though you've been quiet here, we've been sitting with you, albeit from afar and online. Still are. And will keep doing so.

Peace,
b.

dear rachel,
you don't know who i am. i used to have a knitblog some years ago and i quit writing after my divorce - maybe at that time i wrote some comments and you happened to visit my site. but this is not important... i read your blog every day, i think since you started it.... and i developped a special sympathy for you, maybe also because you love venice and i was born and grew up in verona, italy, not far away... anyway, i was very sad last week as i read about your mom and...just wanted to tell you that i have often thought about you in the last days, waiting for you to post again.
anyway..not so important, i just wanted you to know that even someone who lives so far away (actually in germany) sometimes thinks about you. hugs, marta

Good thoughts and squishy hugs, on their way to you.

The comments were closed, and I didn't send a separate email figuring that was just my way of making my own comment section...but I just wanted you to know that I've been sending a little love and light in your direction each day. Take care. ~bonnie

You are absolutely right about the memories from other people. It's always neat to hear how your mom changed someone's life. Especially if you never met them before but they have this amazing recollection of your mom.

I'm so sorry.

Lala is even cracking ME up. Goodness, that was funny.

My deepest sympathy for you and your family.
I have been thinking of you every day and checking your blog to see when you were ready to be back. I’ve been trying to think of something to do that felt worthy of your request to do something in your May 27 "Peace" entry. Every time I’d think about it, I found myself being selfish, wondering how your mom raised her family to be so joyful and loving. Well it’s been three weeks and I just could not ever get away from that and finally decided that I'll try to be a little more patient; I rationalized that my whole family would benefit even if my motives began selfishly.
I’m glad you’re finding moments of joy in your sad days. I remember those moments when my mom died, I still grin at the thought of our outbursts of laughter through tears.

My sympathies. Until you have gone through the loss of a parent it's hard to imagine what it's like. The thing I miss most is no one will ever tuck me into bed quite the same way as my litte Gran did. But no one will give me the same wonderful memories and stories, either. Hang in there.
Kate

Number 4 is priceless.

Still thinking of you all.

:)

Glad you're back. We suffered a loss last week, too. Missed the memorial, and will have one of our own next weekend. They do help. Hugs and more hugs (since they help too)...

I am so sorry for your loss, your occasional stories about your Mom were so sweet she sounds like she was a lot of fun. A week after my Dad died my Mom sent me to the video store to get movies, The Lost Boys and Dirty Dancing hold a special place in my heart they were stupid mindless escape movies that let us forget our grief for just a couple of hours. I mostly lurk and very rarely comment and have been thinking of you and your family for the last couple of weeks, have a peaceful, restful weekend.

Oh Rachael. I am just so sorry for your loss.

Love to you and your family in this time of loss and celebration. It's sad to lose a mom, six months before I lost mine, two very dear friends lost their 19 yr old daughter. That's tragedy. It is sad to lose the mamacita you've known and loved all your life. You will miss her, but you will soon find that she lives on in you. You will hear her advice in your mind, feel her hand guiding yours when you cook; you will find her in your own voice when you are moved to offer some bit of advice she once gave to you. This is how we carry on our mothers' legacies.

Celebrate her life and her love for you.

BTW, a friend of mine was a hospice nurse. 50% of her patients actually survived the hospice period of 6 months. Some even recovered fully once they had pain relief and their families around them. My dad survived 8 hours after being signed in to hospice, but I knew he was that close to going before signing him in.

As my aunt often says to me in the tough times, "I've had you in my pocket this week." I've been thinking of you often in the past week and have been sending love to you and your family. Take good care of yourself and keep finding the laughs where you can...

Wow! So not the post I was expecting after ages away. I'm very, very sorry for your loss what I remember of you writing about your mom was always good. I'm sure you miss her.

I am glad that you're still able to laugh and smile and love. That is so important.

I remember those "God has a plan" cards from a few years ago when it seemed like every six months or less I lost a relative. I *hate* those cards. I *hate* the callousness that people have when they tell a grieving sibling, friend, relative "Well, God has a plan, everything happens for a reason." In their super cheery voice. No one wants to hear that (unless they're uber religious, I suppose), "I'm sorry" is just so much more... everything.

(((Hugs))) for you all.

I deal with death almost every day at work. I see families who never seem to want to let go, I see families who are too eager to let go, and then I see families who, while saddened, are healthily assisting their loved ones with a gentle passing. It sounds like your family did a fabulous job with your mother, and it soothes my heart to see such a kind, gentle death. Blessings to all.

Love ya - hugs to your whole family. Glad you're blogging again. I totally know what you mean about the greeting cards, and you are so right - the messages that mean the most are the ones that recall something wonderful about the person - a shared memory or such. The rest feels so insubstantial, it just doesn't matter.

Which is what life feels like "after" - losing and living and healing leaves you lighter - a lot of life's annoying stuff just falls away, and good stuff stays.

Of all the blogs I've spent time reading over the past few years, yours is the one that has touched me the most deeply. I know I speak for many when I say that I have laughed and wept tears of both joy and sorrow with you. You are such a remarkable woman with such a strong voice. I came here because of the knitting, but it is the warmth and wit that have caused me to stay. I am so sorry for your loss. After my beloved grandmother died a few years ago someone sent me this Dr. Seuss quote that actually helped me through some of the hardest times:"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." You are blessed to have such a wonderful family and we are blessed that you share so much of them with us. Thank you, Rachael.

Welcome back.

You're the best. My sister wanted to make the end of each parent's life a Hallmark card complete with scrolly font and flying happy @#$%^ing butterflies. I still miss my folks, and probably will for years to come, but... Thank you for sharing when it's appropriate and locking out our sappy hugs and comments when it's time.

This weekend I'm going to be volunteering at a grief camp for children who have lost someone special to them this past year. It's sponsored by Hospice. I'm a "buddy" to a 9-year-old girl who's Grandmother died of cancer this year.

I know I'll think of you often this weekend, Rachel.

Glad to see you back! Love to you from Alaska!

Thank you so much for #3. Who knew, and I have seen my fair share of death. (I mean, about Hallmark I knew.) Maybe it's a New Zealand thing, or a Herron thing, but I'm gonna make it my thing.

I wanted to send you an email, but you don't even know me and it seemed intrusive. But like other commenters I was hoping support for you.

(((((((((((hugs))))))))))))

Boy, I have missed your voice but have understood your need for some time away from the noise of all of us. I lost my mother to cancer nearly nine years ago, and although we weren't close at all until she became ill, I still feel the lack of her presence every day... especially those moments when I go to the phone to call her to tell her something you would only tell a mom and I realize I can't call her! But God has had a wonderful way of moving delightful women into my life to fill that void for me... my mom-in-law, my best friend's mom, etc. And while they will NEVER replace my own mom, I love that they each represent having a Mom still in my life. So, no, it's not easy. But I am so happy that you can feel both the sadness and the joy and that you have so many wonderful memories to treasure. Soldier on, carrying her in your heart and soul.

Rachel,
I am glad to see you are posting again. I also spent my time in bed. Still wish I could spend my time in bed. It was nice not dealing with the world for awhile.
Thank you so much for you lovely email.
Mother's are special people. I was lucky to have the best mother in the world.
I'll be thinking of you on Saturday. We had a great send off for my Mother and I am so glad we could do it for her.
All my best to you and your Family.

*Hugs* It sounds like you've got a great support network to help you through this time. I hope your wonderful memories will bring you comfort at this time. *Even more hugs*

Will continue to keep your family in my prayers. I'm so sorry for the huge loss in your life. Do recognize that this exhaustion and need to take to your bed is just part of the cycle of grief. When my grandmother (whom I was very close to) died, I slept non-stop...it is a great form of escape.

Small steps...be kind to yourself and know that many of us are praying for you.

{{{{{hugs}}}}}} from the ♥

Love to you + your wonderful family xxx

My partner's mother died last September of cancer. The greatest gift she gave those she left behind was each other. She died at home and, after the funeral home folks had come and taken her body, Vanessa (34), Me (31), Vanessa's little brother Eric (19) watched them drive away, feeling solemnly Party of Five. Then we ordered pizza and got out the photo albums and laughed and cried all night long.

I'm glad your family is close. Sending love.

Rach,
You and your family are in my thoughts! I know how much you loved your little mama, she's with you always. My love to you all, Gina

Smiles and love. And yeah, it sucks. But oh the focus. I was telling a friend of mine this morning one of the gifts I got when my dad died (an unwilling thrust-upon present, but we must recognize that which is positive out of pain) was an absolute clarity of what was important, and what was bullsh*t. And meOHmyOH there is a lot of energy spent on the latter in this world.
I'm smiling at you and feeling your melancholy a little, too. ((hugs))

Oh Rachel,
these are hard times and yet I think the laughter is almost better as it comes as such a burst through the daze of grief. When my dad died our (crazy) next door neighbour asked for a ride to the funeral. We thought that was our dad just messing with us to make us laugh and work on our finally honed sarcasm skills. Um, my family is the best family in the world btw. Equalled only by yours...
Now, for this week while you are in bed things that are very good (though your soy lecathin(sp) may not allow this) blue fish, sour candies, and all assortments of chewy candies. My kids, niece and I lived on candies for a week after my partner died a couple of years ago and while I'm sure it did nothing for our bodies eating candies for a week was liberating - I wouldn't say fun but liberating.
Now you take care. You're in my thoughts and good wishes lots.

Ditto what Bonnie said on Thursday at 1:20.

It's nice to 'hear' your voice again. And you've got a good one in Lala but I know you know that! Keep taking care of yourself. I've been there; it takes a while but it does get easier.

much love,

R.

Though I never met Little Mama, it’s probably safe to assume that she was an awesome person, considering what a wonderful daughter she raised. The death of any such person is definitely a loss for all of us. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your sisters and father.

I am soo sorry.

Althought the chinese cut and pasting is a tip I will have to rememvber. as for ANTM time slipping away-how true. Must not waste valuable ANTM time. precious, it is!

Oh lovey, I'm so sorry. What you said about sorrow and joy reminded me of this...it's one of my favorite passages of literature (poetry??), and it always helps me in hard times.

"Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.

And how else can it be?

The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.

Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?

And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?

When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, 'Joy is greater thar sorrow,' and others say, 'Nay, sorrow is the greater.'

But I say unto you, they are inseparable.

Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed."
- Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

I'm keeping you and Lala, and your sweet mama, in my prayers.

Rachael, we've never met, but I've been a fan of your blog since I started knitting in 2004.

I was so sorry to hear about your loss, and I've been thinking of you. I'm glad you have such a wonderful support system. Lala rules! And you do, too.

Rachael, it sounds like you really do come from a wonderful family; I bet your mom took great comfort from how closely knit you all were, and knowing you'd all take care of each other.

Also - thank you so much for sharing what you learned about greeting cards. I did not know that. (I knew not to be all maudlin or cheery or religious, but I didn't know about highlighting a memory - but as soon as you said it, it clicked. Thanks.)

Hugs,
zoom

You've been in my thoughts all week. Your grace in the face of this deep sadness is beautiful, and I think a lovely tribute to your mother.

xxxxxxx

I sure love you.

A lot.

xo.

I lost my mom, too, about 13 years ago and I still find things I want to tell her and ask her. It's never easy but we get through it. Hugs and love to you and your family.

So sorry to hear about your mom - but you've done such a beautiful job of memorializing her to us, your blog readers who don't truly know you or your mom...and I'm touched that you would share that little bit of your life and loss with us.

Glad to see you're healing, glad to see you're surrounded with people who love you. Hugs to you, your family, and your lovely Lala.

I just want to give you a big-ass hug. I really hope I get to see you this week. Let me know okay?

sitting here smiling at Lala's hijinks. laughter really is good medicine and i'm glad your girl is giving it to you in just the right doses.

thinking about you as you go through these hard days. hoping all the love you have surrounding you eases the pain in your heart.

melly~

I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. She sounds like an amazing woman.

I am so sorry. Keep reliving the memories. They may bring laughter and tears but they are so important and can sometimes add a giggle to an otherwise sad day.

You and your family are in my thoughts.

Rachel, I am so sorry. Though the memories may bring laughter and tears, a giggle can make a sad day a little brighter.

Oh my dear. I have been thinking of you. You are absolutely spot on with your comments. And those cards--sheesh. I don't know who comes up with them but I think it's a Christian rainbow bunny that constantly barfs bubbles.

Take care of yourself. You and your family are in that special place that needs extra care--both from yourselves and for yourselves. I so remember that time after my mom died (when I was 34) with my sisters and loved ones. It's beautiful and unbearable at the same time.

Be well and take care. You have a lot of nice people pulling for you out in the internets.

I was also surprised at how much laughter there was at my dad's memorial service. It totally caught me off guard because I never thought I'd be able to laugh about him again. It's amazing how many emotions we can go through in the course of 10 minutes when someone close leaves us. Hang in there, Rachael. I'm thinking good thoughts for you daily.

You're so right about it all. I remember being so dazed after my mum died -- I was jaywalking (as I generally do) about two weeks after her death, and accidentally cut off a driver, who yelled out the window, "Not only are you blonde, you're STUPID!" I stopped in my tracks. Thought hard. All I could come up with was, "But I'm not blonde!" Which totally cracked me up....and then I started laughing even harder, because I realized that I was wandering down the sidewalk by myself, laughing like a maniac, and what would people think?

So, yeah. Watch TV, eat ice cream, love and be loved. (Just don't jaywalk.) Gradually the tidal wave will recede.

Oh sweetie! I am so moved by your words about your mom. What a blessing to experience her passing with such love, grace, and beauty. I had a similar experience with my grandmother and it was one of the best gifts I've ever been given. That sounds odd to me when I think about it, but it changed my perspective on living life and living death.

Hugs and kisses to all.

So sorry.........
It is nice to hear you have such a wonderful family for support.
Thinking of you - even if i am a little late!

I'm so sorry for your loss. *cyber hugs* Much love to you and your family.

Sharon

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