Hello and welcome to another edition of #TransparentTuesday! During #TransparentTuesday, we remove the rosy filters of social media and share real life.
Twelve years ago tonight, I was sitting in the ICU waiting for my mom to die.
It was surreal. I was exhausted physically and emotionally in a way I hope to never experience again. Never would I have imagined that I would be waiting in her ICU room a few days before my 26th birthday, when she was only 50.
Yet, her body was failing from complications of young onset Parkinson’s Disease. None of it was by the book as far as Parkinson’s goes. She was diagnosed young, didn’t have a good reaction to any meds or to brain surgery, and was quickly immobile.
I was recently trying to clean up the files on my computer and external hard drive and came across files related to the care of her. Long term care options spreadsheet, directory for aging services and community resources, notes I made about what I needed to get power of attorney, phone numbers for different doctors, nursing homes, and the nursing home ombudsman. It all came flooding back to me how I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. At age 24 when I took on her care, I kept telling myself how I wasn’t equipped to handle getting my mom in a nursing home before she was 50. Even now at 37, I don’t know how I would cope. Life doesn’t really prepare you for being an advocate, health care navigator, and maker of super important decisions, much less prepare you for losing the member of your family that you felt the closest to. Yet, you somehow make it through as best as you can. And 12 years after her death, it feels simultaneously like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
Grief is so complicated. As years have passed, my grief has dulled around the edges but still can wound in the happiest of times like my wedding, or even with day-to-day work. I was signing a contract for another post with Catherines the other day and while that in itself is fun, it’s part of my work now. I had a flashback to how she took my prom pictures outside the dressing room of the Catherines that she worked at. She was a stay at home mom, but when we were older, she took a job there just because she liked clothes. I think she would get a real kick out of some of the work that I do now! Again, simultaneous feelings of happy and sad.
The other day I was picking my dog up from daycare (she goes 1-2 times a week for socialization) and one of the workers walked past me and said “I like your dress! My mom wears dresses like that.” While I could have been offended for having “mom style,” I got a big giggle inside because I was thinking “my mom would wear dresses like this too if she was here!”
Tonight I’m struggling like I always do this week of every year since she passed. In addition to grief, I also deal with a wild swing of emotions because she died 2 days before my birthday. We buried her the day after my birthday. The timing seems to have left a would only slightly be healed by time, only to be ripped open again. Something about being celebratory and happy this week of the year feels wrong. Then not only am I surrounded by grief, but there’s also a mashup of resentment, confusion, and ultimately guilt. It feels so selfish, but also necessary to somehow divorce her death and my birthday. Grief and celebration need to eventually learn how to coexist.
I saw this quote recently, and it sums up how grief has felt to me
Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, & in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.Unknown
More posts about my mom:
- Parkinson’s Disease – her story
- Peaks and Valleys – August 2009
- A Voice – April 2010
- Why So Emotional? – April 2010
- Happy Thoughts – August 2010
- 55 – August 2011
- Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda – April 2012
- 56 – August 2012
- Six Years, Slow Healing – April 2013
- 57 – August 2013
- 58 – August 2014
- You Begin to Forget – April 2015
- 59 – August 2015
- 60 – August 2016
- A decade of grief… and life – April 2017