my mom died.
i thought a lot about a way to gently head into this post- i tried a few different, softer introductions that seemed less dramatic, less shocking, but they didn't feel right. maybe because her death is still dramatic and shocking to me. or maybe because gut-wrenching, heart-aching grief has a funny way of stealing away all things that you used to 'normally' do, and replacing them with harsh, blunt acts that seem like the new way to do things.
either way, my mom died.
three months ago already.
in a way, it was expected. ovarian cancer is sort of infamous for it's mortality rate. but in another way, it was so very unexpected. my mom was a fighter, had a positive attitude, and wanted to live more than maybe anyone i've ever met. she also just loved living. it was sort of her thing.
expected or not, it's still a piece of reality i cannot seem to wrap my brain around. every day, there's some new way that it finds to slap me in the face. i feel it when i smile at my littlest baby, a daughter, born just five months before she died. i see it when i look at my sister learning how to mother her own baby, another little girl, born a mere 19 days after mom's death. it hits me hard each time i watch my stepdad get into his car to go home, alone. i think of it when i look through my phone and notice i haven't talked or texted with mom in ages. it hits me in every day things, surprising things, like when i read books to my kids, when i hear my daughter laugh, when i see a penny on the ground, when i hear country music, when someone talks about their own mom. when i wake up, when i go to work, when i come home, and when i go to sleep... it always seems to hit me like a brand new reality that i must somehow understand to be my own.
during the day i think of mom: i easily find memories of a healthy, vibrant woman doing life and giving love with her whole heart. memories of her laugh, her long, rambling messages, her silly jokes, her funny dances. i can find those during the day.
at night, i am ravaged by memories of the sickness that overtook her. when darkness comes and i'm awake in bed, i just can't seem to escape the harsh, surreal reality of her last two weeks of life. in a way, i'm sort of grateful for that because it keeps me in check- no questioning this actually did happen; i didn't make any of this up. the reality of her being gone forever is so surreal on a daily, moment-to-moment basis that sometimes reliving the memories of watching her die before our eyes is helpful to justify the aching hole in my heart. nonetheless, though, the pain is still searing hot and relentless.
grief is a funny little monster. it sneaks up and shows up in ways i hate. like (obviously) crying. i used to not really be a crier, at all. then i had all these babies and they messed up my hormones so i cried much easier than before, but still not often. but now... now. now i can cry just thinking about crying. i cry at the mention of a funny story of mom. i cry when i realize i use past tense to talk about her. i cry when i realize she'll never see the new firsts of all my babies- her pride and joy grandbabies. i cry when i start talking, i cry when i close my eyes, i cry when i'm alone and i cry when i'm with people.
i also get very overly emotional and underly (is that a word?) logical a lot lately, which is terrifying. grief seems to have taken a hold of my emotions and stuck me into this really shitty cycle of over-performing when i'm stressed out (which is all of the time, #letsbereal) and then i get upset that i'm so stressed and doing so much, and then i get angry and rage-y about it all and take it out on the people i love so dearly. and then i realize i'm doing that, so i dive into this deep depression for a few days, realizing i'm a horrible, grown-up human who can't even regulate her own damn self. i sort of wish i could be rageful towards my mom, or God, or cancer, or anything that would make half a lick of sense. rather, grief takes a hold of a normal annoyance or frustration and turns the volume up to, like, 50, and then i can't see or hear or think of anything except that i am mad.
and so many other ways grief shows up. too many to count, really. and yet, i have to keep going. my sisters, my step dad, our family... we all have to keep going and doing life, every day. because life doesn't stop, obviously, but also because that's how she would have done it. actually, that's how she did do it. i can easily say that mom lived her life, right up until the very, very end. and for that, i am proud of her, and so grateful. grateful for that last little lesson she left for us: don't forget to live.
love you mama.
Meet my mom