A grieving daughter’s real thoughts.
It has been a little less than 2 weeks, as I write this, since my mom died. Grief is so much more different than most people tell you, than what you really think it will be like. I always felt like I would cry constantly. I’m an emotional person and cry often anyway. But I have moments where I’m fine. I cry at the right times but sometimes I want to cry and I can’t. That could be from the amount of anti-depressants I’m on, or it could just be the way I’m grieving, but I want to talk more about that, and how I have felt for the last two weeks, and even longer as my mom’s life hung on by a thread: a thread that was being cut and re-sown, time after time, until one final, painful snip.
Grief is weird. I don’t know if I’m feeling all of the stages, but I think maybe I’m grieving for other people too. I grieve for myself. I grieve for the things I will never have with her. She won’t ever see me get married or meet my children, she died exactly 2 weeks before my college graduation (first in the family, by the way), and she won’t be here to give me advice about the shit that life throws at you. Her advice was always the best, and even when I didn’t take it as I should have, it has always stuck with me.
I grieve for my dad. My mom was and always will be his one true love. She was the end all be all for him, and before you ask, no there is no way he will ever date anyone else. I pray that he holds onto hope for the future through my brother and I, but I know that he wanted that future with my mom. Its hard to ask him to hold on hope for our futures when they, too, feel empty without her.
I grieve for my brother. He trusted her more than anyone in this family. He seems to be doing okay, but I know he misses her. I am so scared he isn’t processing things correctly, but if he is, then I am so envious of him and his ability to just be okay.
I grieve for our little nuclear family-no more. She was the matriarch. She kept the world spinning for all of us. I worry about what every holiday will look like, every birthday, every happy life event. She was so good at making them all special, and I don’t have it in me to take that place. I don’t have it in me, and I know no one else will either. We will reflect on all of the lasts of her life, as we go into the nexts. Her last Thanksgiving was non-existent because she was too sick. Her last Christmas was spent in a way that would make most of you sad. Her last birthday was spent as her other sick days were. I wanted to take her on a trip in May, thinking things would be normal, or close to normal, by then.
I grieve for my grandmother. Her first lost child, but one that she had a different relationship with. I don’t know what its like to be a parent yet, but from what I’ve heard, the pain of losing a child cuts deep.
I grieve for her brothers, younger and older. So different, and the relationships with her were too. Her older brother was her confidant for many years, they were in it, good and bad, together. Her younger brother she practically raised, she was like his second mama.
I grieve for her sister. Mom got to see how wonderful of a mother she has become, and she was able to tell her that, but her last memories with my mom are ones where mom was at her sickest.
I grieve for her hometown friends, especially her best friend. I don’t have to explain that one, you can already imagine the pain that would come from losing your best friend since second grade. I grieve for her hometown friends who she lost touch with, but always carried love in her heart for.
I grieve for the friends that she made in Memphis, the women that supported her since Jackson and I were in Kindergarten. She talked on the phone with them constantly, sometimes about everything and sometimes about nothing.
I grieve for every co-worker she made an impact on, every child she made smile in a school office, every parent that she gave good advice to.
I grieve for everyone that ever met her, which makes grieving for myself that much harder.
And while I grieve, I also become angry. Everyone is going to miss her, but everyone else besides my dad, brother, and I get to move on in some way. They get to be bogged down by daily life and talk to their children and spouses and co-workers, and not think of her every single day, even if they think of her often. My dad, brother and I are left in this house that she decorated and made ours, with what feels like the echo of her soul. I get to wake up everyday and miss telling her what my plans were, for the day, or for life. I get to miss asking her if she needs anything while I’m out, or what she wants for dinner, or sit out on the porch with her while she drank her morning coffee, usually as I interrupted her book or podcast.
I get to miss her telling me she’s proud of me, or what remedy on Pinterest she read about for my minor inconvenience of that day. I get to miss literally every little thing about her. And everyone else will move on. They’ll miss her or think of her, but I get to live in the house that used to be filled with the sounds of her voice, her laughter, her singing.
The past 6 months were traumatic and painful, and I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain or exhaustion on my worst enemy. I ask, why God did it have to happen to her? She meant something to everybody, so why her? I think one day I’ll get that answer, but I ask the question angrily. She deserved better. She deserved a better ending. We deserved a better ending. We deserved to hear from her that it was going to be okay, because she is the only one in this world that made my dad, brother and I truly feel okay.
Don’t expect me to move on quickly. This is shaping my young adult life, and my young adult life shapes the rest of my life. As my peers start their careers or graduate school, I get to grieve and mourn. If I sound bitter, its because I am. I am bitter because things should be better. Things should be happy, without the sting. I feel bitter because I don’t understand, but one thing I do understand is that she is finally at peace. While I am bitter and angry, I am also at peace. The duality and confliction is hard for me to understand, but that’s part of grieving.
That is the weird thing about losing someone. I am at peace with the fact that she is no longer in pain, no longer suffering, no longer exhausted by Earthly problems or sadness. I know that when I die, she will be the first one to meet me on the other side. But before that happens, I have to go the rest of my life, which could be so long as I am only 22, without the person who was most important to me in my life.
I fear that she will just be a name that my future friends know, or the name my kids know when I talk about her. I fear that they won’t ever understand how much she meant to me or how much I loved her, and she loved me. I will keep her alive in my actions and everything I do, but damnit I want her here to tell me its okay and that I’m doing it right.
No one will ever tell you that your dreams (or in reality, nightmares) of her being sick and getting better aren’t real or feasible. No one will ever tell you that these dreams where she’s sick and dies are a repeat of your harsh reality, just with a different color. No one will ever tell you that waking up in the morning will be one of the hardest parts of the day, because you have to tell yourself that its all true, let it sink in, and realize that when you go downstairs you don’t get to tell your mom what your plans are for the day, or interrupt her morning coffee alone time. No one will tell you that when you’re falling asleep, and you see her, that it just fades into a weird dream where she’s not herself, and even in your dreams she’s still stuck in a sick body. I pray that one day, when it all isn’t as fresh, that the dreams will be better, that they’ll be the sweet dreams I long for, instead of the nightmares I have now.
With or without the dreams, I think of her in everything I do. I listen to music and I think of her, I watch a new show and I think of her, I see a commercial and I think of her. Everything I will do or have ever done has involved her in some way, and now I can’t share those things with her, at least not in the way I wanted to.
She would probably be upset with me for not going to grad school in the fall, but I just don’t think I can do it. My accomplishments feel hollow without her to share them with, because, in a way, my accomplishments have been hers too. I want to go on and live a life she’d be proud of, but it’s hard to do when she isn’t here to say she’s proud. And I know, I know she is looking down from Heaven at me, and she is proud, but she also was one to give people grace, and I think she’d be proud of me for doing what’s best for myself right now.
I need to give myself some grace, and I need grace from others. Forgiveness for not doing what I expected to be doing since graduating college. She was so good at that. She let me do things in my own time, and now, more than ever, I need to do things in my own time.
I wrote these nine pages in about an hour, so clearly I have some thoughts sorted out, but there is so much more that I am leaving out, as I navigate my way through this emotional turmoil. Some moments I feel okay, and then I think of her. And I miss her. And I wish she were here. And I would imagine I will feel that way forever, but it might just sting a little less. But in a way I don’t want the sting to go away, because that means I’m moving farther away from her livelihood, and so is everyone else, making her into mere memories instead of a human being. But I also know, as the sting goes away, and I move forward each day, that is one step closer to me being with her again. I don’t mean for that to be concerning or morbid, but I just know that when my time comes, whether I’m 48 or 88, she’ll be there to bring me over into God’s beautiful kingdom, and what a joyous, beautiful, eternal reunion that will be.
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