I spent last week Thursday-Monday in my hometown. I haven't been back since a month after Mom died. And we can't even count that because I was still in some shock-protecting coma and I just went into "army mode" and did what I needed to do. (removing all the things still left in the house and packing them into a U-Haul) The last time I had a U-Haul in the driveway was when I moved to Illinois after college graduation. Both times there was pain. But the first time was a growing pain. This time was a growing pain on an entirely new planet and one I most certainly didn't choose.
I didn't drive by the house or put myself through any rituals to agitate the sadness. I just let it come as it may. I visited with family and spent a few days in Wausau with the hubs. He skied. I drank and read and thrifted and researched where to eat. I sat in a hot tub, drank a bloody Mary and checked out a winery. I ate duck. I slept like a rock in the hotel bed. I talked and talked to the hubs without four million interruptions per minute from the kids. (My Aunt watched the kids because she rocks. so hard). I broke down a few times but nothing out of the ordinary. I thought I was prepared for all the ups and downs that come with a grief so powerful as your Mom dying. I actually thought to myself that I've been feeling incredible since my Austin trip. How strong I feel and how could this possibly be?
And then I woke up on Tuesday morning and felt like a wounded bird left for dead out in the bitter cold of February. I literally could not stop crying all day. The flood gates were open. I felt raw and sad and lonely and bitter and angry and weak and tired and spent. Absolutely every thing I touched, thought about or encountered made me cry. And that's the thing about grief, you never know when it will knock you on your ass. When it will kick you in the knees. I walked down the stairs of the basement and had to stop and sit and cry. We finished the basement (mostly) for Mom. For her recovery. A lovely little suite and kitchenette and bathroom and she never really got to fully appreciate it or use it when it was 100% finished.
The guest bedroom upstairs has become a storage room. Door closed, cold, blinds shut....Every time I open the door I flash back to Mom sitting in the bed recovering from a stem cell transplant. A f'ing stem cell transplant that gave her a whole three months of no drugs or treatment, oh wow. Great. When I get really sad/mad I just want to use the F word like no body's business. Insert a bunch of them right here.
So here's the thing. I may have learned a tiny bit about myself in these 41 years. I went to sleep on Tuesday night knowing that Wednesday would most certainly have to be better. I knew if I just went to sleep and got up and started over the next day that I could most certainly manufacture some inspirado. (That's an old-school saying my girl B and I would say when we needed to get going, get inspired, make it happen!) I put on some brightly colored lipstick, a hat and some big sunglasses and took Buddy Boy to school. I did errands and just kept moving. I kept thinking of the first year after Dad died and kind of channeled Mom. What would Mom do? What would Mom say? Just. keep. moving. forward. Fake it 'til you make it. (that's my new favorite saying)
Yesterday I took Evan and his buddy on a preschool field trip to the local theater to see Martha Speaks. There is nothing like the theater to make you feel inspired. Seeing the little faces look up at the stage...(and the fact that my attention span right now lends itself quite nicely to a one hour production!) We went to a cafe across the street for sweet treats for the boys and chai tea for me. I took lots of photos despite their disinterest.
I cooked dinner a few times this week despite my lack of interest. I just need to keep going. And when everything crashes down like it did on Tuesday I need to understand it's all part of the journey. I didn't ask for this, didn't want this, hate this....but I don't have a choice.
I told a friend that I come from a long line of strong women. They showed me how to do this. I talked on the phone today forever to a college friend. She needed me and I needed her. Sometimes we just need to speak our truth. To not care if our stories are pretty or if we are the perfect mothers or wives. Or even if we are doing a good job. Some days I'm mom of the year and some days I suck. Sometimes we need to relish in the journey.....that our similarities far outweigh our differences. There is greatness that lies ahead. I can feel it.
Marianne Williamson posted something on her facebook page this week that said something along the lines of "in our darkest grief our truest selves are revealed." I'm here. I'm letting the waves crash and wash over me as they come. Some days I am a wounded bird and some days I am a warrior. This is my truth right now.
Mom's favorite saying was "This too shall pass." Amen Momma. xo