happy birthday Mom

Hello boys and girls. I’m back. Been awhile, hasn’t it? Oh, I have my reasons, which you’ll learn in time. If there is such a thing as the Struggle Bus, I’ve not only been riding it lately, I’m pretty sure I’ve been steering it. Or NOT steering it, as it were. :D

What’s kept me away for so long? Over a year? Well… as it turns out, writing about a loved one isn’t as therapeutic as one might have hoped. In fact, it’s pretty painful. Just the thought of putting words to my memories of Mom was enough of a force to sink me into the proverbial pit of despair. I’ve been wholly unmotivated – and in almost every facet of my life. You see kids, I deal with depression – the real, clinical kind that’s often diagnosed with medicine and lots of therapy. I chose to ignore it for a good chunk of my adult life, believing instead that something was horribly wrong with me. It was Mom who pointed out my cheerless moods, reminded me of our family history, and so I sought help. After Mom was gone, it was inevitable that I’d slip up somewhere. I just didn’t realize how low I’d go.

The highlights of my year (or lowlights??)…

To start with, I didn’t fully comprehend how individual the grieving process would be for me and my entire family, and how the grief would choose to attack us at inopportune times. Truly, I didn’t know what to expect; but then, who does? You really can’t prepare yourself for something like this. It’s interesting to watch how each of us deals with it – from eating too much to imbibing on weekends, from not cleaning the house to sleeping all the time or not sleeping a wink, from not leaving the house to being careless at work, from worrying too much to not caring at all, from ignoring all the important relationships in our lives to simply not even having the urge to try anymore. Grief can be rather unforgiving.

And oh, how the wisdom poured in! Most people said the holidays would be hard, particularly Thanksgiving and Christmas, those heavy with tradition. Honestly? They weren’t; they were oddly comforting. Maybe I’m fortunate to have a family that chooses to stick together when things get rough. So that’s what we did. No, no… for me, it was the double-whammy of January and February that sucked balls. Short days, NO SUN, little to do, might as well be eternal darkness for all I care… BLAH. Some people said birthdays, anniversaries, and other significant milestones would be the trigger. Again, not so much. Her birthday and the 6th of every month passed by with little fanfare. She certainly wasn’t far from my thoughts on those days, but then, she NEVER is. In fact, Mom’s birthday is today. She would have been 66. And while that is incredibly sad, it’s not the thing that gets me down either…

Mother’s Day? Now that was horrendous. The annual Komen Race For The Cure, which I’d done for years with absolute joy and compassion? I was nothing but angry at all the survivors there. The return to school in August also bugged me – probably because Mom, a teacher, always loved the fresh start to the academic year. And hey, the one-year anniversary of her death? It was akin to living her showing and church service all over again. Flowers, cards, words and prayers from well-meaning friends and family. I was in awe so many people remembered. It both consoled me and tore my heart in two.

In the middle of all that madness, exactly ten months to the day after Mom died, I lost my dog. My beloved Teddy, the sweetest soul in all the world. “Bereft” didn’t begin to describe my general state of being. I like to think he left me to keep Mom company – at least, that’s what I tell myself over and over again. But it’s a poor lie.

So, between the ongoing grief over Mom, the added heartache over losing my dog, and with it, an unholy stretch of pitiless gray days, my depression returned in full force. Weeks went by with absolutely nothing to punctuate the monotony. I settled into the comforting, deadly routine of: get up, go to work, come home, put on pjs, read books, go to bed. Oh, and eat – often and badly. Wake up the next day and repeat. I was so down, that to enjoy living required effort… to just live really, really hurt.

I’m not sure what finally got me out of that overwhelming hole, because I had dug down deep. Maybe it was fear. Maybe I had a little help from above. Maybe, like my mom, I’m a fighter after all. I began to pay attention. I made note of every emotion I felt, every thought I made, and every word I spoke. It just seemed important to do so. And slowly but surely, I started to see color where only the grays had been. I also reached a turning point… a point where I realized that this is the way things will ALWAYS BE. Mom is gone – really gone. She is NOT coming back. And this is how it will always be… how it will be WITHOUT her. Different, but somehow already feeling the same. I don’t want to get used to that feeling. This has shocked me to the depth of my soul; it has also allowed me to move forward.

It’s frightening to know I may have years ahead of me without her. And while that thought is very sobering, and almost paralyzing, I’ve managed to find the tiniest, most distant sliver of hope in it. My mom can’t be forgotten. Not by us certainly (her family), not by her friends, not by this world. She was just too good. So I have to keep her memory alive, and the only way I know how is through my writing. That’s the main reason I’m back here, on this blog… to write again. Mom would tell me to; in fact, she’d be my biggest, loudest supporter. I have to remind myself of that, when the ups and downs and middle-grounds threaten to take over. So I write today because I just can’t stay away from it. And that’s my gift to you, Mom. Happy Birthday. ♥

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