Tender Hearts and The Grief Journey

I am realizing that some days, my heart is more tender than others about my mom. I really do think of her every day. On some days, it’s just a small thought, a quickly fleeting one. On others, it is a heavy weight, a sinking feeling that persists. Although my dad has been gone since I was 4, I find myself thinking of him more since she has passed than what feels like all the years before. Anger builds in me when I think that I have no parents. I know I’ve said that before, but that’s the thought that goes through my mind over and over. Neither one is here with me any more, neither can see my children grow….I have no parents, and I feel too young to have that status. I am the start of the living in my family lineage. No parents, no grandparents……it feels heavy to me.

2014-04-20 00.07.50When Easter approached, I kept thinking of the Easter before. Last year, mom was still with us. In fact, she looked great, seemed to feel good, and was all-around seeming as if she was winning this cancer fight. Even though she had just recently been released from the hospital, she had energy. Her hair was growing back, her face was round, she smiled a lot and her smile was still hers, not the one where a stroke had robbed her of its normalcy, and her voice was vibrant, not one burdened and crackled by tumor pressure.2014-04-19 23.47.14

I have a voicemail saved on my phone from my mom from last Easter. Although not a message filled with fluffly thoughts, it is still a recording of her voice. It’s preciousness to me is extreme. On it, she tells us to come to her house and get our Easter baskets. And by OUR, she meant everyone, even me and 2014-04-20 00.06.44Thomas. She just couldn’t leave anyone out, grown adults and all. At the close of her brief message, she said “love you” before hanging up the phone.

When we went to retrieve our baskets a few days after Easter, we took this picture.2014-05-25 15.00.44

It was almost right after this that everything began to fall apart.

I wrote that first half of this blog post, everything above this point, and then I paused. Now, I can’t remember my train of thought. I can’t seem to find the vein of those emotions that got me to begin writing it. Yet, I’ve never stopped thinking about it. Somehow, that seems extremely fitting, for as I wade through this grief process, that’s how everything seems to be to me. My heart feels one way, and then it is changed, on a whim. A pressure on my mind and heart. My spirit feels one emotion, and then it is adapted, placid to a storm. Everything swirls from okay to horrid. It affects all things, and the worst part about it is that you don’t know it until its too late and it’s already happening, and those around you feel ashamed to want to blame your actions or feelings for the day on grief. It’s almost like that cliche of the man wanting to blame his crazy wife on it being “that time of the month.” You don’t want to say it, but you think it, and it’s usually right, and you can’t claim it to be true, cause it feels like a cop out to want to excuse your emotional whirlwind on grief.

I wonder when it will stop.

Nothing about the grief process is linear. You don’t go from one stage to the next and never back to that stage. One isn’t conquered to never be experienced again. I’ve always taught this about the writing process, encouraging students that even once it is “published” or turned in to me, changes still need to be made, ideas revised, errors adapted, materials deleted. It’s never “done” as a piece of writing, hence multiple editions of a book. That’s the grief process it seems, and it is troublesome. You feel like the loss shouldn’t have that effect on you. But it just does. Eventually, I will hit a year without her, which will mark making it through most all the “firsts” without her. After that though, I assume it just turns into something else that can bring the sadness.

This Easter just enters into another one of those “firsts” without mom. I wouldn’t have ever thought “yeah, Easter is going to be hard without her!” but yet it is. I didn’t know it mattered so much, yet apparently it does. I think the contrast of the two is what hurts so much. My littlest is a whole year bigger, which is extremely noticeable at her age. She’s grown so much and mom can’t enjoy it.

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DSC_0008My boys have grown so much and she can’t participate in that either.

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DSC_0040In my mangled sadness, I occasionally have the foresight to grab my emotions and ask for help.  I asked one of mom’s friends that spoke at her funeral to pray for me on Good Friday. As we traveled to get Wesley’s cast off, I knew mom would be excited about that venture. She would be likely right in the middle of our day, lavishing love on our littles. On Saturday, our church’s Children’s Pastor, Bridget, texted me that when she saw me at our Saturday night Easter service, she nearly cried. She wondered if she was in tune with something, channeling mom. I shared with her how it has been such a hard few days, cause I keep thinking of the extreme differences from this Easter to last.

I stopped by the graveyard this week, which I normally think is a stupid thing to do. It just seems like a waste of energy to me, and I have never cared to ever do it before. I find myself now wanting to take pictures with my kids standing next to her and my dad’s grave, just like she use to make us do next to my dad’s tombstone. What it profits, I have no clue, yet I feel like I want to or need to do it.

But this Easter weekend, there were a few things that really stood out to me as “she’s still here and loves you” moments.  After coming home from eating Easter lunch with my family, I put the spoon which I had used to serve our green beans on the counter. And there it was, faded but still present: Boyd.IMG_5643

It had actually been her  spoon. It was one from her house that I had brought into mine, and that was the spoon, out of all my spoons, that I took with me that day. It made me crack a smile.

Then, a picture of me holding Hazel. One that a my cousin’s mother-in-law took of me at the close of Easter Sunday service. My sweet Hazel had fallen asleep on me, and I just sat and lingered at the close of service in order to let her get as much snoozing as possible. And at that moment, on the empty pews, me, Hazel, and my mom’s rings on my fingers. The way I am holding my hands, I could have had my left on top, hiding hers and showing my wedding set……but I didn’t. That makes my eyes fill with tears.

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Little moments, sweet elements of her.

I know she’s not still here but when I say “she’s still here,” it is the whole “her memory is alive and that love never goes away” type of here.

Just like the name on that silly spoon, “faded but still present.”

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6 thoughts on “Tender Hearts and The Grief Journey

  1. I read every word. I thought of you and your mother on Easter Sunday as I watched the sunrise. I sent you prayers. Our love to you, Summer. You are not alone.
    Helen

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