Stages of GriefJune 7, 2011
I've given up on today. I had a meeting this morning, and then I wrote 2000 words, and I think that might be all I'm good for. I was, in fact, out driving with the intention of going to Santa Cruz for the day, but then I got a milkshake and sugared myself right out. I turned the car around and went home (via the cafe, where I MADE MYSELF work for a while, gritting my teeth the whole time).
It's the little mama's birthday today, and I'm thinking about grief and what I know about it.
What I know is this:
The way I, Rachael Herron, grieve for my beloved little mom, is not the way I'll ever grieve for anyone else, and not the way you'll do it for anyone, either. This is my mileage. Make of it what you will. *
The first month is awful. Let's not even think about that month.
The first six months suck with a white-hot fiery agony. Much of the time breathing feels like a check-box you'd rather not check. There is joy, of course, daily, because joy happens even when you'd rather it not. But there are nights of howling black loneliness even when you're surrounded by your loved ones. Everything feels heavy, especially your feet and your eyes, and neither are worth lifting. Dreams are dark, corporeal, and devastating.
The second six months are pretty bad, but there will be a day here and there when you forget about your little mama until nightfall, and then it will all come back in a rush, and it will hurt, but more like being socked in the stomach, less like being stabbed in the heart. You'll have one good dream about her (the one where she comes up behind you and says in your ear, "I'm here", and you'll cherish it, hugging it tightly for weeks).
The year and a half mark was, for me, a turning point. That was the first time I could think of her without pain. I could remember funny things, and even more important, I could remember her faults again (not that there were many, mind you). I could remember how she bugged me every once in a while. I could almost hear that grumbling noise she made as she walked around the house, picking up, and I realized that I (and Digit) make the same noise. Those memories made her into a real person in my memory, whereas before that time she was so shiny and perfect I could barely see her in my memory for the bright glow of her halo.
Now, it's three years this week (can you believe that? I can't). I'm multi-published, something she didn't live to see. Dad's getting married to his girlfriend in October (I adore her, hi Lola!), and overall, the world has kept spinning pretty well, even if it wobbles sometimes.
But Mom is still around. I know this in my heart, and you know I'm not a woo-woo kind of person. But our loved ones ARE nearby, and I see Mom regularly in my dreams (and sometimes she's grumbly. I love that). I can say to a stranger when asked about my mother, "she died," without breaking into unexpected tears. I don't even feel like I'm pushing the tears back anymore. It's just a fact now.
Just like it's a fact today is her birthday. She would have been 71. And I knew it was coming, and I've been through a couple of them, and I thought I would be okay. Today I'm not okay, though.
I am, however, very good at self-care. I've tucked myself back in bed, and I don't plan on leaving it until evening at the earliest. I have my computer, my iPad, my phone, and three dogs. The cats will follow when they realize where I've gone. Lala is being very nice to me, because she's had Great Loss, too, and understands. If I need it, she will go get me ice cream.
I'm pulling the covers over my head, but I also wanted to say, I'll be okay. I know that. And there's great value in that.
In New Zealand at Hot Water Beach
*(I was emailing a friend about the death of parents, and this has been on my mind. Yes, it's supposed to happen before the death of the child. Therefore, most of us go through it. But there is NO reason to discount it because of this. In some ways, it's the deepest, most cutting loss we'll go through, and I hate when it's made less because it's "just" a parent. I have Strong Feelings about this.)